I have yet to complete my beer narrative from my European vacation in the summer of 2017 (which I don’t know if I will ever get around to finishing), and it is much more daunting a task to write about the beer I drank in Ireland and England at the end of January 2019.
I went on a bucket-list trip with a friend to watch two English Premier League mid-week matches. After some planning, we decided to catch the Manchester United-Burnley match up at Old Trafford on Tuesday, January 29, 2019 at Old Trafford and the Livepool-Leicester City match at Anfield on Wednesday, January 30, 2019.
My friend handled the flight arrangements, so we left the US on Saturday, January 26, leaving from Charlotte to go to Dublin, Ireland with a layover in Boston.
The first beer I consumed on the trip came during the layover where we caught lunch before our flight to Dublin. While at Logan International, we stopped at the Beerworks brewpub for lunch. I had two beers: the Beerworks Excellent Porter (that’s its name), and the Old School IPA.
Based on my ratings on Untappd, I preferred the porter over the IPA. There were some other beers that I had wanted to try, but they were out of them.
I don’t recall if I had a beer on the plane. I think the wi-fi that was supposed to be working, wasn’t. So if I did have a beer on the plane, I couldn’t have recorded it on Untapped. But I also don’t have a picture of a beer from the flight, and since I generally don’t like to drink on long flights (I have trouble sleeping on airplanes anyway), I probably didn’t have one.
We got to Dublin just after 5 AM local time on Sunday and took a taxi from the airport to our hotel in the Temple Bar area of Dublin. It was far too early to check in, but the staff – who were great and very accommodating and understanding – and allowed us to leave our bags under their attention and sit in the front room until the kitchen opened at 7:30 to serve breakfast. While we waited, we were getting groggy and fighting off the urge to take a nap.
During breakfast, we decided to do what any beer lover would do in Dublin – book a tour of the Guinness Storehouse online. After breakfast we set off on a brisk walk to the west on Wellington Quay on the south side of the River Liffey, weaving our way through a number of streets until we found it!
After our tour, we went to the top of the Storehouse for our free pint. I made a note to try the Hophouse 13 beer that was available there, as well as the Smithwick’s Blonde. But I ended up choosing a pint of the Stout.
There was a group of what I took to be Spanish high school students there on a field trip. Of course, they weren’t permitted to drink, but that didn’t stop two of the young women from asking us if they could hold our pints as props for pictures. When they did, the one young woman almost completely spilled my friend’s beer when she put it back on the table. He was not amused!!
We decided that we needed to keep moving if we didn’t want to fall asleep on our feet, so after checking back at the hotel to see if our rooms were ready (they weren’t) we decided to explore the Temple Bar area as it was nearing lunch and we would have to try to eat someplace.
I also decided I wasn’t going to wait for another opportunity to try the Hophouse 13, so I had that next.
After Trinity College, we decided to head back towards the hotel stopping at pubs along the way to break up the walk. Our first stop was at the Norseman Pub, where I ordered a Citra IPA by the Guinness Open Gate Brewery. The Norseman was great fun, and our bartender was a charming and vivacious young woman from Brazil named Rayanae – not what you’d expect in Dublin! I followed this up with a Murphy’s Irish Red.
At this point, the afternoon became a bit of a blur. We went to another pub on the way back to the hotel, but the beer I was drinking was not all that noteworthy (I remember a Carlsburg and probably another Guinness or two). We made it back to the hotel, went to our rooms for what was supposed to be a short rest so we could go back out for dinner at around 6 or 7 PM, but both of us fell asleep. We needed to catch up on our sleep because the flight to Manchester was leaving the next morning.
We took another cab back to the Airport in the morning, and caught the flight to Manchester. From there, we took the train from the Manchester Airport to Victoria Station where we walked with our luggage to our hotel. After we checked in, we walked back toward Victoria Station to visit the National Football Museum. A completely awesome place that I highly recommend!
It was early evening when we started walking back to the hotel, and after finding an ATM to pull some British Pounds (Ireland uses Euros), we bumped into a place that I had scouted in the pre-trip planning as a potential stop for dinner and drinks. One of my goals was to drink some real British Cask Ales on this trip, so the first beer I ordered was a Saltaire Blonde.
This was followed up by a Thornbridge Brewery Jaipur IPA, and then took a little detour to a draft Budweiser Budvar. The Budvar was an interesting diversion. While I have had it on tap before (in the Czech Republic in 2017, and the Czechvar version sold in the United States), at the restaurant, the beer wasn’t served out of kegs, but from tanks of beer that were racked horizontally in a stand.
After dinner, the beer drinking continued. The next one up was the Beavertown Brewery’s Gamma Ray American Pale Ale, followed by two Camden Town Brewery beers: the Pale Ale and Helles Lager. My evening at the Oast House ended with a Marston’s Lancaster Bomber.
Believe it or not, the night wasn’t over yet. We walked back to the hotel and decided to have a few more beers at the hotel bar. I had a Harviestoun Bitter & Twisted, and capped the evening with a Brightside IPA.
Since the soccer match between Manchester United and Burnley was in the evening, we decided to do tourist stuff to pass the day. We walked from the hotel to St Peter’s Square and took the blue line tram to its end at Media City, crossed the pedestrian bridge over the River Irwell and checked out the Imperial War Museum North. That was a great museum, with the highlight being able to chat with an elderly British gentleman in a wheelchair who landed at Juno Beach on D-Day.
After the museum, we walked about 1.5 miles to the Salford Lads Club, which has connections to the band The Smiths. The weather was cold and wet and miserable when we started walking back to the hotel to get a rest in before having to leave for the match at Old Trafford. We eventually tracked down a cab after deciding we had quite enough with dealing with the weather.
When we left for Old Trafford, we went back to St Peter’s Square and took the Purple Line to the Old Trafford stop. From there we walked up Warwick Road to Old Trafford.
Our seats were in the Sir Alex Ferguson stands, and we found this daunting sign waiting for us:
They weren’t kidding! We started up the steps and managed to make it all the way up without having to stop to catch our breath or rest, though it was hard to get my feet up on the last five steps! Not bad for a couple of late middle-age men carrying a bit more weight than when we were in our twenties! There were two young women who were also climbing the stairs at the same time we were, and I commented that it was a tough go, but they seemed to handle it ok. One of them responded that they didn’t think they were going to make it either!
To regain my strength, I hit the concession stand…
We had a couple of these John Smith’s Extra Smooth waiting for the match to start. In the English Premier League venues, beer is not allowed in the stands. There was a totally shit-faced squirrelly little fuck that kept trying to walk into the stands with his beer. We got to talking to the security guards about how they were going to handle him if he kept up his idiocy. Apparently, he had ridden a train down from Scotland to come to the game and had been drinking champagne (what the fuck?) on the train and all day – at least until he got to Old Trafford.
Our seats were pretty good, but I was annoyed that Man U pulled out a 2-2 draw after being down 0-2 to Burnley.
After the match, we picked up a tram at Trafford Bar to take us back to St Peter’s Square. We picked up some beer at a carryout on the walk back to the hotel.
The next morning we walked back to Manchester Victoria Station to catch a train to Liverpool’s Lime Street station. Liverpool was, simply put, AWESOME. After we got to the Lime Street station, we found the location where we were to pick up our tickets for the evening’s match and then headed off to do touristy things. First stop…
Our day there happened to coincide with the 50th Anniversary of the Beatles last public performance on the roof of Apple Records. At least, that’s what they were telling us!
The first beer I had was another John Smith’s Extra Smooth. After several served out of cans the previous night at the Old Trafford concession stands, I thought I would try it on draft.
We eventually left the Cavern Club to backtrack to a little pub we saw on a side street as we were heading from the Train Station to the Cavern Club named The White Star. The White Star Pub refers to the White Star Line steamer company, which was headquartered in Liverpool. Today, the White Star Line is most well remembered as the owner of the Titantic. Naturally we had to check it out. We were glad we did – it was one of the highlights of the trip!
This was followed up with a Moorehouse’s Brewery White Witch.
To give an idea of the ambiance of the place…
The customers were generally really friendly, though there was a creepy guy who kept lurking nearby and muttering a lot. He looked like a cross between Argus Filch (from the Harry Potter movies), and the barber from High Plains Drifter.
The best part of the stop at the White Star was that we timed our visit to coincide with a regular (I forget if it was weekly or monthly) gathering of Scottish pensioners in the back room, listening to traditional music played by some of the attendees, talking and having a few midday pints. There came a point when it got quiet, and then a bagpiper led a gentleman carrying something on a silver platter. A haggis!! There was plenty made and the pensioners generously asked us if we would care to try it.
Unfortunately, we had to move on. We thanked our hosts and bar mates for their generosity and moved on to more touristy things. We walked down to the River Mersey and took pictures at the statue of the Beatles and admired the local architecture before we started heading back towards the train station and the bar where we would have to pick up our tickets for the match.
We needed to stop to piss on the way back and, similar to the rule we had in college when we were returning from the south campus bars, we had a beer where we stopped. So next up was a Worthington’s Best Bitter at The Liverpool Pub. Sorry – but I couldn’t find a website link. This brand is owned by Molson Coors and their website, not surprisingly, is shit – I get a 403 Forbidden error on the link that is supposed to take me to the information on the Worthington beers.
It was still too early to pick up our tickets, so we stopped at another pub – I’m pretty sure it was a place called The Vines at the corner of Lime Street and Copperas Hill. I had Carlsberg or something more mainstream – I didn’t record it on Untappd because I had it before. It tasted bad – as though the beer lines were skunked and hadn’t been cleaned in ages.
We went to pick up our tickets and arrange for a ride to Anfield and of course had a bee while we were waiting. I had a Mitchells & Butlers Mild (again, ultimately owned by Molson Coors, so no website!) and something else more mainstream that I didn’t record. Then it was off to Anfield!
After our taxi ride to Anfield, and after we made arrangements for a ride back, we headed straight to the Sandon for pre-match pints! Again, I had several more mainstream beers and was distressed to see so many Scousers drinking shit like Corona and Coors Light that it made me sad. One guy even had the bartender put an inch of water in the bottom of his pint before he poured it – I still can’t understand why somebody would want to water Coors Light down even more!
The one beer I had at the Sandon that I did not have before was a Tetley’s Smooth Flow.
The Sandon was totally great, along with a regular who approached me and my friend and said “I noticed you were a couple of Yanks. What do you think of Donald Trump?” We cautiously found that we were like minded individuals and had a great chat about Trump, Brexit, and all things political! Great guy – he has a permanent spot at the corner of the bar so I will be looking for him when I next make it back!
I left a 20 pound note for our new friend to enjoy his next pints of the evening on us and we headed over to Anfield. The seats for the game at Anfield were not quite as good as those we had at Old Trafford and the weather was much more shit. It reflected in the match, as Sadio Mane scored early to put the Reds up 1-0, only to have Harry Maguire equalize just before halftime.
We had to rush back to the Sandon to try to beat the crowd out of Anfield after the match in order to return our tickets and try to get to Lime Street Station before our train left. It was a tight thing and we missed the train. So instead of sitting in first class for the 45 minute ride back, we had to wait and sit in coach.
By this time, I was starting to feel a bit run-down, so my friend went and had dinner while I waited and watched the clock for our train back to Manchester. Both of us tired, we were recounting just how epic our trip had been up to that point when some old smelly hippy (who had been following us around on the train platform before we left) started berating us for having traveled from the states to see Liverpool play. To him, it was a disgrace that we got to see the match while his children have never been to a match – he accused us of keeping local kids away from Anfield! I told him that we didn’t knock any children down and wrest their tickets away from them to go to the match.
The guy was a real downer. When my friend asked him why his kids had never went to a match, he rubbed his thumb and index finger together. “Money?” we asked? And he said that they couldn’t afford tickets.
The sole of one of my old winter boots that I was wearing on the trip gave out and was flapping when I walked, So we caught a cab at Victoria Station back to the hotel rather than walk. Along the way, our Pakistani cab driver was trying to explain cricket to us. We had another beer or two back at the hotel before turning in. Tomorrow we were returning to Dublin to start our trip back home.
We took a cab late in the morning to the airport in Manchester rather than walk (again) to Manchester Victoria Station and take the train back to the airport. The flight back to Dublin was uneventful, but I thought we had to walk all the way back to Manchester to get to the location to catch our shuttle to our hotel for the night.
We got settled into our rooms and I realized that I was well out of gas and needed a rest. I begged off accompanying my friend on a side trip to Malahide for dinner, which broke a cardinal rule I have for traveling: JUST GO!. But I was really worn out and could feel the start of the respiratory crud that hit me after I got home taking hold. I took a brief nap and then went downstairs to the restaurant connected to the hotel for dinner.
I had during dinner was a Smithwick’s Blonde. I also had a Harp Lager (I had to – I was in Ireland!) along with a Kronenbourg 1664 Blanc. I had this last beer before at home (and for some reason gave it 3.5 stars!) but it was awful and I had to nurse it.
The flight back home left Dublin and took us to JFK in New York City. I had another Hop House 13 on the flight back (Aer Lingus for the win!) – unfortunately, the airplane wi-fi wasn’t working, so I wasn’t able to check in with this beer.
And that’s it! It was a hell of a fun trip and something I hope I get to do again soon!