Weekend in Limerick.

So since my last update i’ve gathered some swag from Drinkstore, got some 8 Degrees Amber Ella one of the stars of the recent Irish Craft Beer & Cider Fest. Also picked up a few others including a bottle of whiskey barrel aged Leann Follain by O’Haras that i’m going to keep by for Christmas.

Anyway the main point of this post is to share what went down in Limerick this past weekend.

So after work on Friday drove down to Limerick and thanks to the motorway network made it in a very reasonable time once we got past the accident in Naas.

Our lodgings for the weekend were The Pier Hotel on Sarsfield Bridge. Easy to find and very centrally located. A very keen price and as it turned out was very good value for money. The rooms were clean, and the Breakfast was great. The real stand out thing was the fact breakfast was on til 12! That is a first for me, but it was a very tasty breakfast and the staff were really helpful.

The first night giving we got down around 830 we were famished and went to Bella Italia, an Italian Restaurant – we just went with main courses. It was on Thomas St a short hop from the hotel. Sadly the food wasn’t as great as we hoped, but filled a hole none the less. Though the pint of Peroni for ‚ā¨4.95 was a great thirst quencher. Once we were done there we retired back to the hotel bar for a couple of drinks. Sadly no craft beer there so had to slum it.

What an amazing view

The next day we were blessed with the weather for our trip out to the magnificent Cliffs of Moher. Only an hour or so from Limerick. Amazing scenery and one of our best tourist attractions. There was a healthy crowd there. On our way back from the Cliffs we stopped in Lahinch in a local pub called Danny Macs. We had a clam chowder with a pint, well not me as I was driving had to make do with water! ūüė¶ this would be remedied later on.¬†

Once we got back to Limerick we dumped the car and went off to watch the 2nd half of the United match (now i wish i hadn’t bothered) we picked Smiths as a place to watch it due to their large amount of screens. Happily they’d Pilsner Urquell available on draught, and it was only lovely. I also loved the tankard style pint glasses¬†

Lovely Retro Style Tankard

So after here – i’d had enough – we decided to move on to another pub.Luckily we didn’t have far to go. The Crafty Fox was a mere stones throw down the street. I’d heard good things, and was very keen to try it out. Also there was plenty of screens to watch the All Ireland Hurling Final Replay, which was sensational.¬†

The Bar in the Crafty Fox – Well Stocked.

The beer menu for a limerick bar was very good, a lot of irish craft present on the taps, O’Haras and Franciscan Well having a couple of taps each, was also nice to see 8 Degrees Howling Gale, and Metalman. Importantly all very well priced. Again there was a nice choice of bottles but it was the taps that we supped from. I’d a Metalman and Dark Arts,both fantastic as always. Mrs Irishbeersnob was supping the Rebel Red. We’d a couple there and watched the amazing climax of the hurling and went off to dinner.

Chocolat in Limerick was recommended to us by our friend. What really sealed the deal was their 4 course meal for ‚ā¨25. On a saturday night. Mad value for money. This is what the 9% Vat rate gets us. Unbelievable value for money. The restaurant was very swanky, down stairs in the main dining room you were treated to a really modern restaurant. The music in the backround was more akin to a night club however. That was the only quibble. The food was fantastic. I went with the BBQ Rib to start, and the Sirloin Steak main, for dessert a Ferrero Rocher cheesecake. All three courses were really impressive. There was also NO supplemant for having steak. Mrs Beersnob had Clonakilty Blackpudding cake, with the BBQ Ribs as a main. I’d a Worthingtons White Knight and herself a blue moon. Obviously their beer was supplied by Molson Coors. Not the absolute worst. But was a bit disappointing not to see Irish craft there.

Then for the finale of the night we made our way to the Blind Pig.I saw on twitter earlier in the day they’d been tapped up by White Gypsy for their Ruby – an ale i’d never had before. But how hadn’t I, it was sensational. Had a nice few pints of this. To mix it up i’d a Fischers later but there was something up with the keg as it tasted off, the guys were happy to swap it out and i’d an Asahi instead. The staff were really friendly. There was a metal/rock Dj on as the metal bar downstairs wasn’t open. All in all, was very very impressed.¬†

The Beoirfinder App suggested a few other pubs had Irish Craft – sadly we ran out of time – but will be back in the future to check out the rest of the scene in Limerick.

That Friday Feeling – A Visit to the Harbourmaster

So Friday comes around last week, and since it was the end of our first week back after our holidays, myself and Mrs Irish Beer Snob decided some after work libation was in order.

It was a glorious Friday evening and we settled upon revisiting an old favourite, The Harbourmaster Bar, in the IFSC (www.harbourmaster.ie / Twitter @HarbourMBar) it had been many moons since I was a regular patron, back in the good old days when I worked on Lwr Abbey St. The last time I was in there I think was a Friday night after a Prodigy gig at the o2 in 2009. My wife was a more recent visitor with her work Christmas Party in 2012. Open Monday to Saturday, closed Sundays except for Private Functions.

As a hardened commuter, its convenient location to BusAras, is very appealing (not too far to stumble for that last bus home) however its also very convenient for those folks who use Connolly, and indeed as a Pitstop to the o2, given its proximity to the Luas Line.

There is no doubt, the building is a wonderfully restored historical building, one of many dotted around the IFSC in among all the modern office structures. Other examples would include the CHQ Building in close proximity. Anyway, i’m nowhere near qualified enough to talk about the architecture etc, but I will say its a nice building.¬†

The Harbour Master Bar, IFSC, Dublin 1. The blue sky is not photoshopped.

In these austere times, patrons are looking for value for money, no more so than in the hospitality game. But can you still get value without sacrificing quality or standards, that is the question. 

We arrived in an the bar was very busy, good to see, and it was a nice mix of workers from the local area, and there were a few tourists in aswell. Initially there wasn’t any space in the bar area, and we sat in the restaurant section. Only for Mrs IrishBeerSnob to see a lovely little table available on her way back from the ladies room. We let the waitress know we were moving and settled in.

Thursday and Fridays have a special offer, all mainstream pints, bottles, and spirits were ‚ā¨4.20. In D1? Surely not? In context, thats only 20c more expensive than my local at home for a pint of G, and 30c cheaper for a pint of Heineken et al. Fantastic! So we got a food menu, and Jasmine took our drinks order.

So we order a Guinness, and Coors. While we mulled over the menu. There really wasn’t any mulling except, what size portion of wings, or do we want fries? So in the end we plumped for the Wings & Fries Special for ‚ā¨11.00. I don’t know about you, if i’m having a few drinks I don’t want a massive feed to fill me, so this fit the bill perfectly.

As we nattered away people watching we discussed our impressions, and first impressions are good. High Ceilings allow plenty of air flow and not a claustrophobic feeling, and plenty of windows allow you to watch the world go by. A very pleasant and clearly has recently been given a facelift. At the time of writing there was only one set of toilets, but we were told new ones were nearing completion upstairs at the function rooms.

Our food arrived, a nice size portion. May be a bit much for one, but more than enough to share and not be full to burst.¬†Or if you were greedy. ūüôā

So we were coming to the end of our drinks, this time I opted for Smithwicks Pale Ale (Its been out a while, not had it yet, not overly terrible for a large brewer, but defo not the best i’ve ever had) and Mrs IrishBeerSnob, her Smithwicks with a Guinness.¬†

The wings were very tasty, the sauce had a really nice flavour, that is really familiar nowadays with the wider availability of Franks Sauce. The only slight niggle was maybe they just weren’t crispy enough, the could maybe have done with another minute or two. But they were wolfed down, and that is always a good sign. The chips were lovely and crispy in that thin French Fry style we know well from McDonalds, and overall we enjoyed our bite to eat. The dips were ketchup and garlic mayo. A choice between blue cheese dip and garlic would have been nice, needless to say there wasn’t any left!

Now to the recommended beer lists, pictured below. Choice is a great thing and it gives you an opportunity to try something you’ve not tried before. I was very happy to see some ¬†beers there i’d not heard much about or had before on the list. I appreciate for publicans when they carry so many lines its impossible to stock everything, cos lets face it its a business and they stock what sells, but it was a little disappointing to not see any Irish Craft there. I think its very important to support the growing Irish Craft beer scene, as by and large these small companies are ran by enterprising individuals and the more local produce we buy, the more we help our economy directly.

Page 1 of the Beer Recommendations
Page 2 of the Beer Recommendations

Worthington’s White Knight IPA

All the same, I tried the Worthingtons IPA and Mrs IrishBeersnob had the Doombar by Sharps. I enjoyed mine, if a little underwhelmed. I expected more hoppy profile. Mrs IrishBeersnob loved hers and has tasked me to find a supply for her. She continually surprises me with her appetite for ales, especially English Ale. 

Sharp’s DoomBar

Have I found my new Friday watering hole? I think we may have. Whilst i love the absolutely barnstorming choice in the nearby Brewdock, which I have been a very regular customer of since they opened in 2012, the place has changed. The creeping prices of their product, the change in personnel, and perhaps most importantly its not as comfortable. With no air flow it can get very warm, i’d imagine today would be like an oven in there.

If CAMRA says so, scepticism removed

So all in all, Harbourmaster, we will see you again. I am happy to report that on this visit there was no signs of a trade off between a value ¬†offering and a good customer experience. Keep it up. I suppose this is subjective, but we both felt it was good value, Great service accompanied with a good choice of beers (sadly no Irish Craft) and a vast menu, that does offer more than wings, but those who know me, know I love my wings. Couple of tweaks as mentioned earlier, and I won’t be looking at anything else on the menu.

We thoroughly enjoyed your hospitality, and we must give a special mention to our waitress, Jasmine from Derry. You were brilliant, and hope you continue to settle in. Oh and definitely bring the younger siblings to see Monsters University when it hits these shores in the very near future.

Thank you for reading, as always feel free to leave comments below, or contact me on twitter @irishbeersnob