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Fergus returns from a lads weekend…

By Fergus Fitzgerald, also posted in News on

Fergus FitzgeraldI’ve had a few trips to Ireland recently, firstly for a friends 40th birthday and then a few weeks later for a family get together. The first trip was to the Republic of Cork. For clarity, Cork is not a republic, but Cork people believe it should be and are currently introducing a Cork Passport. Annoyingly for those not from Cork it is actually a really nice city, it retains an ‘Irishness’ and a charm which some cities lose in the clamour to be global. I arrived late on Friday evening and arranged to meet a few friends in Midleton, which is a town just outside the city. I headed for a pub called the Mad Monk. I hadn’t been there before so I was expecting the usual traditional Irish pub, although the name perhaps should have given me a clue. My friends were sitting in the corner, I resisted the urge to ask why none of these technophobes had answered their phones and then went to the bar. There a huge array of fantastic beers from across Europe and America. However, I wasn’t interested in them, instead I plumped for a Metalman pale ale. They are a small Irish brewery in Waterford. I hadn’t tried their beer before but it was lovely and fresh, full of bright citrus hops. I don’t usually talk about other breweries, good or bad, but the change in beer and brewing in Ireland from how I remember it is great to see, so I’ll make an exception in this case. We tried a few other beers, all good but I came back for the freshness of the Metalman. The next day some distractions were organised so we went on a zip wire ride and tried a bit of rock climbing before venturing to a few more pubs. We ended the evening in The Blackbird in a small seaside village called Ballycotton. It was a great pub full of music and life, what an Irish pub should be, but even here a few eclectic beers had found a place alongside the standard fare. The next day we walked off a few cobwebs with a stroll along the cliffs and then stopped for tea and scones as we relaxed into our middle-age. There was one dissenter though who couldn’t bring himself to have a cup of tea on a lads weekend, so instead he ordered a pint and a scone. I don’t know if that’s made it into the official beer and food match but he seemed happy with it. A few weeks later I was back in Ireland again to see my family. Again, the change in the availability of quality beer struck me, even in mainstream supermarkets Irish-brewed, small-batch beer was to be found. This time it was from Eight Degrees which is a brewery about 30-minutes from my family home. Again, really nice beers and such a pleasure to find beer at home that I can enjoy. One of my sisters lives in Australia and her partner's family run a pub. We got talking about pubs in Australia and it was interesting to hear that they are facing the same problems as in the UK and Ireland, people are drinking less so pubs are relying more on food, the drink-driving laws has had it’s effect much like in Ireland, but even against this backdrop the interest in beers with taste and substance is growing. People may be going out less often but when they do they want something that matches the premium price they pay for it.


Fergus Fitzgerald