On the fourth day of our trip, our group of super awesome beer nerds was headed northwest to Galway for a few days. A little over 3 hours of driving was broken up the best way possible, with castles and beer.
Our first stop was a stroll around Cahir Castle in County Tipperary. Situated on an island on the River Suir, this castle was pretty legit. I’m talking towers, winding stairways, a drawbridge – the whole shebang.
Having been built in 1142, Cahir Castle (like Jlo) doesn’t appear to age. In fact, it is one of the best-preserved castles in Ireland. In its Heyday, Cahir Castle was a state-of-the-art structure but that didn’t stop it from being pillaged and plundered several times over. Most recently, it was used to film a battle scene for Excalibur in 1981 and can be spotted in Showtime’s The Tudors.
Quite frankly, the whole experience was but a sharp reminder that I didn’t marry Prince William and become a princess (I told myself I wouldn’t cry).
I quickly gathered myself and made peace with my pheasant status because the group was now headed to Eight Degrees Brewing and boy could I use a beer.
Eight Degrees is located in Mitchelstown County Cork, Ireland and is run by two friends, Scott and Cam. They’re from New Zealand and Australia but two Irish beauties lured them to the Ballyhoura Region of the Emerald Isle where they decided that craft beer selections were lacking. Fast forward six years, and the remedy to that problems is their very own brewery.
The hospitality from everyone at Eight Degrees was amazing. Beer was drank, questions were answered, pizza was eaten and a good time was had by all.
My favorite brew was The Full Irish Single Malt IPA, brewed with local malted barley. It was fruity, floral and most importantly – super hoppy!
In addition to my stamp of approval, this beer has also won several awards including a silver medal at the 2017 Dublin Beer Cup, Best IPA in Ireland at the 2016 World Beer Cup Awards and Beer of the Year in 2015 by independent consumer group Beoir. So yeah, good stuff.
You can check out the complete line-up of beers here.
Later in the day, we arrived to a very rainy and dreary Galway. However, we were all hopped up on good brews and carbs so the weather was no match for our good spirits.
After checking into our hotel we were headed to Olso Bar, the self-proclaimed mother ship of Galway Bay Brewery. It was here that we were going to meet up with head brewer, Will Avery. I had heard a lot about Will over the past year and almost none of it was bad (I know him now so I can make jokes).
Will moved to Ireland from Georgia the year before with his lovely wife, Laurien, and two adorable kids – who somehow look Irish AF. Seriously, they look like they were birthed in a neon green pasture as sheep grazed nearby.
Anyway, Will welcomed us and enjoyed the company of old and new friends as we ate and were all around merry.
It was a long day and everyone was visibly tired but when the opportunity to check out a micro-distillery located in the back of the bar, home of Micil Poitin (pronounced poo-teen or poo-cheen depending on who you ask), we all perked up.
I had become enamored with this spirit a week before while I was exploring Ireland solo. The first I had heard of it was at the Irish Whiskey Museum in Dublin and the nerd in me took over. I went back to my Airbnb that night and researched everything I could about poitin and made a point to try different brands when available during the duration of my visit.
So here is a brief history:
Like anything worth indulging in, Poitin (aka Irish moonshine) was once illegal. For centuries, it was homemade in rural areas of Ireland and could vary in quality depending on the availability of ingredients and the attention paid by its creator. It became legal in 1997 and is gaining popularity world-wide.
Pouitn can be sipped straight up or enjoyed in a cocktail (I prefer the first) but be warned, it is strong at 40-90% ABV.
The founder of Micil, Padraic O Griallais, explained that his product is named after his great-great-great grandfather, Micil Mac Chearra and is derived from a family recipe that has been preserved and enjoyed for five generations. It’s a smooth liquor with a nice balance of spicy and sweet. The burn was expected but welcome, not as harsh as you’d expect from a clear, high-gravity liquor.
Padraic was very gracious in explaining the distilling process and equipment to us and I’m still kicking myself for not bringing a bottle of Micil Poitin home with me.
NOTE: I am a novice in the world of poitin but there is plenty of information online if you’d like to learn more about this Irish spirit. I highly recommend it.
I’m sure that the more awesome youngsters in our group showed Galway a good time as the night went on but I am a mere mortal and headed back to my hotel to dream of my would-be life as a princess.
And with that, Day 4 was a done deal. Stay tuned for Day 5!
P.S. There is no proof that Oslo Bar, meeting Will Avery or touring Micil Poitin ever happened. It was a long day and I was tired hence no photographic evidence. You’ll Just have to believe me. However, there are some lovely pics of the Avery family that were provided by the wonderful Laurien Avery below.
If you’d like to go on a super cool beer adventure led by the one and only Owen Ogletree then find out how here.