Ireland Beer Trip – Day 3 – Wexford, I hardly knew ya’!

Day 3 was pretty chill. This is the day that we left good ‘ole Dublin for greener pastures. We had our bags packed and were ready to board our bus at 8am. That’s where Barry (the bus driver) entered our lives and he’ll be a better man for it, I’m sure.

This bus is the coolest place you’ll ever experience for several reasons:

1) It is not uncommon to start popping bottles of delicious beer by 8:15 am

2) There is no class system on the bus. Unlike high school, everyone is cool

3) We’re got some pretty funny people so the laughter is boisterous and often.

Our first stop was Carlow Brewing Company, better known as O’Hara’s. This is a family owned brewery that opened in 1996 with the vision of brewing traditional Irish styles with quality ingredients. This isn’t a hard task as the brewery is located in the heart of Ireland’s malt and hop-growing “Barrow Valley” region.

The O’Hara’s team was extremely welcoming with a table of food and beer flowing freely from the taps. My favorite style was the Irish Red. The sweet caramel notes balanced nicely with the maltiness. At 4.3% ABV it’s an easy drinking beer with lots of flavor. A perfect combination! You can check out the complete O’Hara’s line-up here.

After about an hour of riding, we arrived in Wexford, Ireland. This small town is located in southeast Ireland, at the mouth of the River Slaney. We didn’t have much time to explore before dinner but I fell in love with its windy, cobblestone streets and vow to return one day.

Dinner was at Simon Lamert & Sons Pub and Brewery. This pub features its own beers, which are brewed on site. The brewery is called Yellowbelly and produces award-winning brews that can be found all over Ireland.

I had already tried several Yellowbelly beers at bars across Dublin and was an instant fan. I honestly had not had one beer of theirs that I didn’t like. My favorite was a Berliner Weisse called “Jack Bauer’s Power Shower” – aside from the awesome name this was a very mild, approachable sour with hints of orange peel. You can check out Yellowbelly’s full list of beers here.

After a delicious dinner and many beers, we took the bus to check out Yellowbelly’s brand spankin’ new brewery. Just a few minutes drive from the restaurant, the new digs were coming together nicely. They had yet to begin brewing so that “new brewery smell” was ever present with squeaky-clean fermenters and a canning line ready to be fired up.

They were scheduled to begin production shortly after our visit and I think I can speak for the entire group in saying that we wish them the best and hope everything is running smoothly.

Fun Fact: This month, Simon Lamber & Sons Brewpub was named “Pub of the Year 2017” for Co. Wexford at the Irish Restaurant Awards. Congrats!

With a full belly and heavy eyes, we headed to our hotel. The next day we were headed to Galway to see old friends and make new one’s. Stay tuned!

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ireland Beer Trip – Day 2 – Oscar and Molly Sittin’ in a Tree…..

It’s day two! Everyone is well rested and fatigue is but a distant memory. We’re ready to hit the ground running – for the most part – and the biggest item on our itinerary for the day is visiting the infamous Guinness Brewery. We’re ready.

On the way, we took a leisurely walk through St. Stephen’s Green. At twenty-two acres, this is Dublin’s largest public park. Originally, only well-to-do locals had access to the park but in 1877, at the urging of Sir A.E. Guinness, parliament passed an Act to re-open it to the public. Guinness paid to have the park laid out as it is today before giving to the people in 1880.

Many of us took a moment to admire the swans and ducks at the lake before heading to nearby Merrion Square see the statue of Oscar Wilde.

Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde was  an Irish playwright, novelist, essayist and poet. In the early 1890’s, he was London’s most popular playwright who was best known for his works The Picture of Dorian Gray and The Importance of Being Earnest.

Despite being married to a wealthy Englishwoman, which resulted in two sons, Wilde carried on an affair with a young man named Lord Alfred Douglas. When Douglas’ father found out about the affair he left a card at Wild’s home addressed to “Oscar Wilde; Posing Somdomite” misspelling Sodomite. Wilde was so enraged that he sued the man for libel. During the trail, evidence of Wild’s homosexuality was presented which resulted is the dismissal of the original case and the arrest of Wilde for “gross indecency”. Wilde was convicted on May 25, 1895 and sentenced to two years in prison.

Upon his release, Wilde exiled himself to France where he died three years later, at the age of 46, of meningitis.

While Wilde fled Ireland a broken man, he is hailed as a national treasure today. His statue rests atop a rock just across from his childhood home and is as unique as he was.

What stands out most about the Oscar Wilde statue are the colors. His jacket is carved from green nephrite jade and collar from pink Norwegian thulite. His pants were created with blue pearl granite. It truly is a unique work of art. A small bronze statue of his pregnant wife is nearby.

We then took a quick romp through the grounds of Trinity College, Ireland’s oldest university, before heading to see the Molly Malone statue.

The Molly Malone statue depicts a busty woman pushing a cart along the streets on Dublin. Molly Malone is a popular song which has become the unofficial anthem of Dublin.

Here are the lyrics:

In Dublin’s fair city,

Where the girls are so pretty,

I first set my eyes on sweet Molly Malone,

As she wheeled her wheel-barrow,

Through streets broad and narrow,

Crying, “Cockles and mussels, alive, alive, oh!”

“Alive, alive, oh,

Alive, alive, oh,”

Crying “Cockles and mussels, alive, alive, oh”.

She was a fishmonger,

But sure ’twas no wonder,

For so were her father and mother before,

And they wheeled their barrows,

Through the streets broad and narrow,

Crying, “Cockles and mussels, alive, alive, oh!”

(chorus)

She died of a fever,

And no one could save her,

And that was the end of sweet Molly Malone.

But her ghost wheels her barrow,

Through streets broad and narrow,

Crying, “Cockles and mussels, alive, alive, oh!”

 There is no evidence that Molly Malone was an actual person but her fame among Dubliners is so great that when her statue was revealed by Lord Mayor of Dublin, Alderman Ben Briscoe on June 13, 1988 he declared it Molly Malone Day.

Disclaimer: The Molly Malone statue is temporarily situated on Suffolk but set to return to its original location of Grafton Street by the end of 2017.

The group finally meandered to the St. James Gate Brewery AKA Guinness. This brewery was founded in 1759 by Arthur Guinness and became the largest brewery in the world by 1886. While it is no longer the largest in the world, it still holds the record as the largest brewer of stout in the world.

Fun fact: Group member, Dan Rosen, went to school with Arthur Guinness’ grandson-Rupert Guinness.

During our tour, we got to view the Guinness Storehouse, Dublin’s most popular tourist attraction. It was originally a brewing factory and has since been converted into a museum, which houses some of the old brewing equipment as well as brewing ingredients and insight into brewing techniques. The Storehouse is massive at seven stories and is in the shape of a 14-million-pint glass of Guinness.

After learning about the Guinness family and their beer, we were ready to learn how to pour the perfect pint.

Now that I am an expert at this (I have the certificate to prove it!) I’ll fill you in on how to pour like a pro:

Step 1: Start with a clean, dry 20-ounce tulip pint glass

Step 2: Place the glass under the tap at a 45-degree angle

Step 3: Pull the nozzle forward and allow beer to flow into the glass until it is three quarters of the way full

Step 4: Let the beer settle for 119.5 seconds

Step 5: Top off the glass

Step 5: Enjoy

You’re welcome.

While I enjoyed the visit to Guinness it fueled my desire to see the small craft breweries of Ireland, the little guys who are reinventing the beer scene and challenging the status quo. I knew they were on the schedule in the coming days and my excitement about it was growing.

We continued with the theme of Irish history with a visit to The Brazen Head, Ireland’s oldest pub dating back to 1198. Stepping into the Brazen Pub is like stepping back in time. You can’t help but imagine Irishmen of every century throwing back a pint and sharing a limerick or two.

Dinner was at J.W. Sweetman’s Craft Brewery. With its dark and ornate woodwork, fireplace and tapestries you wouldn’t necessarily think “Craft Brewery” when you walk into this place. It has the feel of a good old-fashioned Irish Pub where you’d order a Guinness and leave well enough alone.

However, J.W. Sweetman’s is the only pub in Dublin with its own micro-brewery. That means local craft beer! We were given a tasting of all five beers. My favorite was the porter, which was thick with notes of chocolate and tobacco giving it a subtle and enjoyable smokiness.

That was day 2. It was a long but interesting look at the city and how the Guinness family helped shape Ireland it into what it is today as well as how craft beer is emerging into a force to be reckoned with.

If you haven’t checked out my recap of Day 1 click here.

Cheers!

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.

 

 

 

Ireland Beer Trip – Day 1- Jet Lag, Whiskey & Booze

Every year, Owen Ogletree of Brewtopia Events organizes a special trip comprised of Craft Beer Professionals and enthusiasts. While this has been a tradition for quite sometime, I have only been privy to these heavenly getaways for the last two years.

The goal is to explore the craft beer culture of another country. It’s a way to see how each place is making it their own. On these trips, it has truly been exciting to venture into different brew houses, pubs & bars and seeing how craft beer is both universal yet unique to its surroundings.

These trips make it apparent that the United States is a leader in the craft beer industry. Being such a young country, we can’t say that about many things but it’s undeniable that brewers in America have been studious in resurrecting and perfecting long forgotten styles as well as with being adventurous with new ones.

For instance, last year’s trip was to Italy. It was fascinating to be in a country that has trumped the United States in so many areas; art, culture, industry (to be fair, they have a few thousand years on us) yet when it came to Craft Beer they were behind us by at least a decade. That’s not to say that the beer wasn’t fantastic just that they are still figuring things out and have only recently developed the loyal followers that we’ve been enjoying for quite some time.

This year, our group was lucky enough to explore the beautiful island of Ireland. Along with amazing craft beer, we also toured a few distilleries. I thought it’d be fun to recap the trip here as a way to reminisce as well as share the experience with my readers.

Day 1

The first day of any trip is pretty laid back. People are jetlagged and running on adrenaline, which tends to wear thin pretty quick.

The group met in the lobby of our hotel in Dublin before walking to Teeling Distillery for a tour. I know, a whiskey tour on a beer trip? Crazy! However, keep in mind that with barrel aging becoming more and more popular in craft beer there are many intersections of beer and whisky (as well as wine, sherry and bourbon) so it’s all good. I for one will never turn my nose to anything that been fermented for my enjoyment.

The Teeling Distillery opened in 2015 and is the only operational distillery in the city. On the tour, you learn about the Teeling family and their history with whiskey along with the distilling process. As a beer nerd it’s always fun to compare and contrast brewing beer and distilling spirits.

Owen does a great job at providing an extensive list of the best beer bars wherever we go and it’s common to break off into groups to explore them. Later in the day, a few of us decided to grab a few drinks at The Long Hall. This is one of the oldest pubs in Dublin and is like taking a trip back in time. Pints of Guinness, settling and waiting for a second fill, line the bar as patrons squeeze in to made room for one another. You’re sure to make a friend here.

Our first group dinner was at Galway Bay’s Alfie Byrnes where we enjoyed even more pints. Being the first day of the trip, the meal was short for many as we slowly began breaking away to get back to the hotel and sleep.

Day one was the perfect prelude to what was sure to be an exciting romp through Ireland’s craft beer scene.

Check out the photo gallery below. Disclaimer: The first day was not well documented and all pictures are from my iPhone. It gets better, I promise!

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.

 

 

I’ve Got The Post Trip Blues

 

meinireland
Me living it up in Ireland.

Cue the guitar cause I’ve got the blues.

I’m home after two wonderful weeks in Ireland and I’m a little bummed. This is normal, right?

When you’re planning a trip the anticipation is overwhelming. Anything is possible. Oh, the things you’ll do and see!

When you’re on the trip you’re blown away. Each day is packed with excitement. New places, new people, the food, the buildings; everything is magical.

And then it’s all over.

Sure, you have your memories but you also have spoiled milk and dirty laundry. You’re playing catch-up and fighting fatigue. You spend the first few days thinking about what time it is where you were and what you’d be doing if you were there now.

I’ve very fortunate to have been to so many awesome places and am sure that another adventure is right around the corner. Until then, excuse me while I load the washing machine……

Ha’penny Bridge – Dublin, Ireland

In honor of Valentine’s Day, I snapped a few pictures of the sights at Dublin’s Ha’penny Bridge.

Ha’penny Bridge was built in 1816 and crosses over the River Liffey. In years past, the bridge was covered in ‘love locks’. However, Dublin City Council began removing them in 2012 due to maintenance concerns. They asked people not to put locks on the bridge but as you can see, rebels persist.

Today, I Marched. Atlanta Woman’s March For Social Justice (Photo Gallery)

On January 21, 2017 Civil Right’s icon, John Lewis, led the charge at the Atlanta March for Social Justice and Women saying, “When you see something that is not right, not fair, not just; you have a moral obligation to say something, to do something. We cannot afford to be silent.”

Silent we were not. It is estimated that approximately 60,000 people marched alongside Representative Lewis to denounce the words and actions of the newly sworn in President and his administration.

I don’t have the time or energy to list all of the egregious things that Trump has said and done so I’ll just refer to the Huffington’s Post’sEditor’s Note‘ that they used during the Presidential Campaign as it sums it up quite well:

Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.

Check out the Photo Gallery below.

 

A New Day – My Journal Entry From Obama’s 2008 Inaguaration

presidentIn 2008, I was  25-year-old and working towards finishing my college degree at Georgia State University. I had also just voted in my first election where I had actually followed the debates and was passionate about the issues. Barack Obama was a breath of fresh air who seemed relatable and gave me hope. As I reflect on his last day in office, I remember a Journal Entry that I had written on the day of his Inauguration. Back then, I didn’t have a blog but would instead write and save Word Documents. After a quick search I found my account of that day. (Please forgive my amateur musings but I wanted to show the original entry without changes.)

“It’s A New Day. I woke to my alarm going off at 7:30 am on the morning on January 20, 2009 and jumped out of bed with more energy than usual, because I knew what an historical day lie ahead. I layered in anticipation of 36-degree weather and headed to Marta bound for Centennial Olympic Park where I had just learned the day before that the presidential inauguration would be televised live to the public.

I was worried about running late, but arrived in plenty of time find my place in line and wait for the gates to open. As I stood waiting I observed the people with their blankets and chairs and talked with many who were more than eager to share what this day meant to them. One woman was there with her two children, whom she had taken out of school so that they may share the moment together as a family.

Once the park opened and our bags were checked, I was pleased and surprised to find myself in the very front of the crowd just feet away from the big screen. The music was blaring and it took little effort for the people around me to start dancing and singing. From the moment I took my place in the crowd I was glad that I decided not to stay home. The energy was indescribable and spirits were high.

The spirits of those surrounding me never dulled, despite the cold weather, and every now and then there were chants of “Yes We Can”, or “Obama, Obama”. I began a conversation with a high school student who had skipped class to attend with her mother and eventually we were taking pictures together as if we were long, time friends.

Everyone watched in anticipation as the soon-to-be first family took their seats and I soaked up all of the faces surrounding me. A woman behind me had tears streaming down her face as the said aload, “This is awesome” and I found myself getting choked with emotion at the realization of what was about to happen.

Even though I expected the day to be emotionally charged, I was still moved by those around me. I witnessed grown men shamelessly wiping away tears and strangers joyously hugging one another. I was overwhelmed by the energy that surrounded me.

As Barack Obama stood to take the oath of office the crowd erupted and a young man screamed, ”Anything is possible.” We then all fell silent as we heard our new president swear to uphold the Constitution. It was such a powerful moment and for a second I forgot that I couldn’t feel my fingers or toes. I was transfixed on the screen before me as I watched the first black man become our 44th President of the United States of America.

I am so proud to be a part of the progression that our country has taken and look forward to what the years ahead have to bring. I revel in the fact that I can tell my nieces and nephews that they can be anything they want, no exceptions, because we live in a land that has proven so. This presidential inauguration was a “Where were you moment” and I will forever remember that I was in Atlanta, GA surrounded by thousands of strangers who didn’t feel like strangers at all.

During this period of war and economic uncertainty I truly feel that change is coming to American at a time when we need it more than ever. I cannot wait to wake up on January 21, 2009 and feel that a new day is upon us.”

Today, as we say good-bye to President Obama I am a much  more cynical person. The day-to-day reality of having an African American President has been shameful. Congress worked overtime to undermine his initiatives while so many questioned his citizenship and called him and his family hateful names. The realization that President Obama will be handing over the keys to the White House to the very man who led the Birther Movement (not to mention has no experience and is by all accounts a narcissistic sociopath) saddens me in a way I cannot explain.

Did President Obama meet my every expectation? No. However, he carried himself with grace and dignity even while facing insurmountable opposition. I believe that he represented our country well and was a strong leader during difficult times. He and his family were a beautiful addition to the history books and I am so proud to have called him Mr. President.

 

What Is Going On At Standing Rock

standingrock

I’ve had several people ask me about Standing Rock. This is a very brief overview of what is going on at Standing Rock. I’ve supplied more detailed links in the text.

Standing Rock is a Native American Reservation located in North Dakota and South Dakota. There have been continuous protests by indigenous people as well as other supports in an effort to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline, a 1,172-mile pipe slated to carry crude oil from North Dakota to Southern Illinois.

Native Americans are concerned that the pipeline, which would pass underneath the Missouri River half a mile upstream of the Standing Rock Sioux reservation boundary, will contaminate the tribes only clean water source.

For the government, the Pipeline is a cost-effective way to transport crude oil to major markets. For the Native Americans, the Pipeline is a threat to sacred land and safe drinking water for their people.

There are a lot of things to consider about the protests at Standing Rock including the history that the U.S. Government has with Native Americans and their land. The preservation of Native Americans and their culture has taken a back seat to government interests many times in the past.

You can read a more detailed timeline of the protests at Standing Rock here.

Also, if you’d like to help the efforts at Standing Rock you can find out how to here.

The First Female President Of The United States

memememblah

Maybe the first female President of the United States has tattoos and a purple streak in her hair. Maybe she lifts her middle finger high when a man tells her to “smile”.

Maybe she’s had an abortion, smokes too many cigarettes and takes too many selfies. Maybe she sings in the car to Beyonce and Taylor Swift and The Runaways.

Maybe the first female President of the United States wears mini-skirts and doesn’t suck her gut in for pictures because fuck that. Maybe she smacks her gum.

Yeah, I’d be ok with that

Donald Trump To Be 45th President Of The United States

flag

Donald Trump will be our next President. I didn’t think it was possible. In fact, I was pretty damn cocky. How could I not be? Pundits, pollsters, politicians (REPUBLICAN politicians) all told me that a Donald Trump presidency was not something I had to worry about. Now, it’s a reality that I cannot wrap my head around.

I’m sad that our first African American President will be passing the torch to someone who has vowed to build a wall, ban Muslims from entering our country, enlist mass deportations and restore “Law and Order”. How did we manage to fall back so fast?

Keep in mind that President Obama was handed a mess of a country 8 years ago. He managed to turn things around with little to no support from his opponents and will now have to pass it on to someone who is endorsed by the KKK. What a cruel state of affairs.

I am sad for my African American friends. I am sad for my Muslim friends. I am sad for my Latino friends. I am sad for my LGBT friends. I am sad for my fellow females.

When Donald Trump was heard on tape bragging about sexually assaulting women, it sent me into a depression (and prompted me to write a post). As someone who has been sexually assaulted numerous times, his candid words brought back some troubling memories for me. Events I’ve tried hard to forget. That time the neighbor put his hands between my legs and reached inside my shirt when I was 12-years-old, or that time I woke up with someone’s hands in my underwear. I could go on, which is incredibly sad, but I think you get the idea.

Personally, it’s going to be tough for me to have a President who has rated women and said mean, ugly things about them. I’ll have to find a way to stay strong, be confident and deal with my emotions for the next two years but I’m frustrated to be put in such a situation.

I also have to find a way to make peace with the fact that people I love and respect voted for Donald Trump. People that I know for a fact a generous and kind cast their vote for the most unqualified candidate in history.

I boil it down to socioeconomics.I live in a city and am exposed to so many cultures and ideas. In fact, I have friends that are genuinely scared right now because they are unsure of their place in our country. However, I grew up in a place that was not very diverse. I did not see a real life Middle-Eastern person until I was 21 and moved to Seattle after Hurricane Katrina. When you don’t leave your bubble and everyone is like you, it’s easy to overlook deplorable behavior and vote within your comfort zone. Your world centers on church and family and you don’t want to rock the boat. My point in proven by the fact that Trump was elected largely by uneducated, white men.

I don’t understand rebelling against the elites by electing someone who has never been poor, never truly struggled, never fell on hard times? I’m baffled.

Political Commentator, Van Jones sums up my frustrations best when he said, “You tell your kids, don’t be a bully. You tell your kids, don’t be a bigot. You tell your kids, do your homework and be prepared. And then you have this outcome….”

You cannot deny the well-documented evidence that Donald Trump continuously exhibited a bullying and bigoted mentality throughout his campaign. Apparently, some didn’t thing those events were a big deal. Don’t want to rock that boat.

I’m scared but I have hope. Here is what I believe those of us who are saddened by these event should do next:

Reach out to your minority friends and let them know that you care about them. Let them know that you will stand up for them if/when you witness injustice. Donald Trump wants to make HIS America great again but we will fight for the inclusion of EVERYONE.

Recognize bad policy, especially if it infringes on the rights of others, and fight against it. Become a pebble in the shoe of your local government. Sign petitions, march, speak out.

Be kind to everyone and recognize the plight of others. Show empathy.

Plan for the future. Look ahead. Let’s work to become a stronger party so that someone like Donald Trump will never have access to the Word’s highest office ever again.

In a moment of despair, all I have is hope. I have to remind myself that it is not the end of the world. We may fall behind on a road we’ve been clearing for so long but this too shall pass.