For years, Jon and Rainer have been planning a trip to the Emerald Isle to sample the imported beer and spirits we enjoy right here at the Yukon Tavern in Southeast Portland. It was a weeklong adventure filled with many memorable moments, which they detailed for me over a lunch of Guinness battered fish last week at the Yukon Tavern.
The Irish Pub Scene
The next day they jumped into their rented Volvo SUV and took off down the road. Their first stop of the day was the medieval town of Kilkenny. They stopped for lunch in a pub built in the 13th century and enjoyed their first traditional Irish meal since arriving in the country.
They also learned a lesson about how to order a beer the Irish way. As they looked down the length of the bar they realized no one was asking for a Guinness. Of course, this surprised our intrepid travelers, since they’d always heard that Guinness was the most popular choice of beverage in Ireland. But as they watched the bartender serving up frothy glasses of the dark brew they soon realized that when in Ireland “beer” means Guinness. It’s a simplified and practical technique to ordering that Jon and Rainer continued to use throughout the rest of their trip.
The New Midleton Distillery
After lunch they continued onto the New Midleton Distillery in Cork, where the world’s best selling Irish whiskey, Jameson Irish Whiskey, is produced The distillery’s tasting room pits Jameson against the Scotch whiskey, Johnny Black, and our own country’s, Jack Daniels. Jon and Rainer tried to figure out why all three had names that started with a “J,” but the conversation began to ramble a bit as the bottles drained so they decided it was time to get on down the road.
The Irish Countryside
Next Jon and Rainer found themselves driving through green, rolling hills strafed by wind coming in from the Atlantic. They had reached the wild land on the western edge of the island called the Ring of Kerry. It’s an open, quiet stretch of land, which provided a great opportunity for Rainer to master the counter-intuitive practice of left-handed gear shifting on narrow roads as freight trucks barrel down on you from the opposite direction. Maybe that Jameson taste test was a good thing.
Favorite and Least Favorite Cities; Dingle and Galway
After their wild ride through the country, Jon, Rainer, and Vera spent a night in a small, coastal town called Dingle. It was a classic beach town with great opportunities for Rainer and Vera to do some birding, while Jon relaxed at another pub in anticipation of tomorrow’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration in Galway’s Latin Quarter.
The holiday has changed a lot in the last few years, and today what used to be a revered sacred holiday resembles Fat Tuesday in New Orleans. It wasn’t exactly the vibe Jon was looking for and the following day the trio were back in the car to their final destination; Dublin and one of the most impressive sights they saw in Ireland, Trinity College amazing library. Surely, there’s a recipe for Guinness in here!
Jon, Rainer, and Vera made the most of their trip to Ireland. They saw the countryside, tried on local customs, and most importantly, did their very best to hit up every pub they came across. There’s more to tell of their adventures, but we’ll cover that in future posts.
Meanwhile, why don’t you visit them at the Yukon Tavern and enjoy a souvenir they brought back with them? The latest new Yukon menu item; a Guinness Battered Fish. And, don’t forget to order a pint of Ireland’s favorite “beer,” while you’re at it.