Part one of seven-part series –
DUBLIN – Welcome to the land of perpetual green fields, misty conditions, and driving on the ‘other’ side of the road. Like many people, my wife and I traveled with two close friends from Boston to Dublin (via Heathrow) to spend a week away from the stress and confusion that often fills our daily lives. For the next six days, as we wander through the countryside, we’ll try to find a connection every day to snowy and cold shores we just left. Here’s day one.
We knew the first full day traveling was going to be a long day. We drove from Saco to Boston, hopped on a shuttle bus to Logan airport, found our way through British Airways security. After hours of driving, security, and lunch, we made it onto the 747 that was waiting to take us to London. The five-hour and thirty-minute flight across the Atlantic was uneventful, and we landed without incident early the next morning.
After a nearly three-hour layover at Heathrow, we boarded another British Airway jet for the 45-minute flight back to Dublin. By 9:30 a.m., we were standing in the customs line waiting to have our passports stamped and wondering why we were asked by the agents to look into the light. Without any fuss or complaints, we stared at the small blinking red lights in front of us and they waved us through. We were in Dublin, tired, but ready to go.
Before getting on the plane in Boston, we talked about what to do the first day and what we’d like to see. My wife and I have both been able to visit Ireland before and together we decided to visit the Guinness storeroom and tour through the brewery.
For whatever reason, there has been an enormous increase in the last decade in the number of breweries and craft beer vendors in Maine.
It seems every town we know in southern Maine has at least one or two bars or restaurants that feature this sometimes wonderful alternative to Budweiser or Miller. I blame it all on Shipyard Brewery and Federal Jacks in Kennebunk, but that’s only because they are close to home, and I often ride past the bar and restaurant on my bike (no I don’t stop).
Standing in rental car parking lot in Dublin we decide to head for the Guinness Storehouse on St. James Street and tour the brewery before heading for our accommodations in Adare. It was a great decision and one that I would recommend to anyone visiting Dublin. Having said that, I may never look at a bottle of Shipyard the same.
We learned about the millions of gallons of Wicklow mountain water that are used during the brewing process and the barley and hops grown in Ireland and throughout the world that give Guinness its distinctive flavor and color. Speaking of which, I could have sworn the heavy stout was brown or black, but when held up to the light you can see it is a deep dark red. Anna, our Irish guide taught us how to properly taste the beer, and she informed us that the color comes from the roasted malted barley. She also told us that Guinness is one of the few large breweries that still roasts their own barley.
But perhaps the most important thing she taught us involved the proper drinking technique. “Never sip it,” she said and smiled. “Take a full mouthful and let it wash over your tongue. That’s where the flavor comes from.”
That was all we needed to hear. In less time than it takes to talk about it, we drained our three-ounce tasting glass. I don’t know about the sweet aromatic flavors she described, the beer tasted like fresh, Irish-made Guinness. It was smooth, cold, and after 24-hours of traveling, it seemed like the right medicine.
Lunch was the next stop and I heard from someone who sounded french that the factory made a killer version of Irish stew.