Being in Ireland, of an age to be drinking, and inspired by Mr A, I decided that I should try as many different stouts as possible. I quite like Guinness at home, but know that it is better in Ireland, closer to the source. Though having tried a can of Guinness after making a Beef and Guinness stew for Mr A, we thought that it was a bit on the watery side, even though everyone kept saying that it was thick oily stuff. Thinking it was perhaps because it was in a can, I was determined to have it on draught to see if I was mistaken.
On our jaunt to Belfast we tried a Chocolate Stout which was brewed using cocco, and while it was nice, it wasn't on draught, and didn't quite have the taste that we were looking for. Whilst in the first pub we fell in with some men, one of whom was a member of CAMRA who was bemoaning the evils of Guinness and their monopoly on the Stout market. He pointed us in the direction of the John Hewitt Bar hoping they would have a non-Guinness stout. They didn't have one on tap, so we settled for German Black beer instead, which was lovely. It wasn't pretending to be thick like one imagines a stout should be, but was full of flavour. The two we tried were bitburger and Kostritzer, the latter of which was the favourite.
I headed down South last week, and was determined to work my way through a good few pints of stout. The first evening I had a Guinness as there was no other stout on offer. It was better on draught than in the can, but still was lacking a depth of flavour. Perhaps, I thought, I was seeking a holy grail of stout that didn't exist. In Dublin I backed my Dad's enthusiasm for a slightly dodgy looking pub because they offered Beamish, a stout from Cork, on Tap. This was getting closer to what I was after. A fuller flavoured stout than Guinness, though not bitter. A nice creamy head and no disappointing watery texture. I was very impressed. For dinner we trooped into another pub off O'Connell St, and another stout was on offer, Murphy's. Again it had a fuller flavour than Guinness, but was lovely and smooth, like the Beamish.
A small pub in Roscrea was our next stop where I had a pint of "Good Guinness" according the the barman, and indeed it was good, better than the previous pint, but a lighter option to Beamish and Murphy's.
In my uncle's pub I indulged in more Murphy's and then I pulled myself a pint of Guinness, which had its merits for having pulled it. All in all I am pleased that there are other stout options than Guinness, and that I am now an established Stout drinker, to add to my love of Ale which was carefully nurtured and trained whilst in England. I won't know what to do with myself when I go back home and have to make do not only with no real ale, no varieties of stout and worst of all no pint glasses!!
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