Yesterday I boarded a flight to Miami in preparation for the most important 10 work days of the year, the Miami International Boat Show. So while I'm running around like a chicken with its head cut off this morning, I have a really big treat for you kids! One of my favorites, Alex from Ifs Ands & Butts is taking over VTIM. Alex is a Texas girl currently living in Germany. She is flipping gorgeous both inside and out and hands down my choice of blogger I would most want to grab a beer with. I would have to track her down first though. Speaking of beer, I'll let Alex take it away with a killer, super easy to understand guide to Irish Pubs, plus she's giving away an Amazon Gift Card and Ad Space!
I did not understand the true glory of the Irish Pub concept until moving abroad. Sure, I had been to Irish Pubs before, but I knew nothing of the culture nor the drink offerings. I'd been living in Germany for about 6 weeks, when I heard my first English-speaker on the tram. He was a young guy talking on the phone. I am not normally one to chat up the nearest person, but it was about time I made a friend in Karlsruhe. I anxious eavesdropped until I heard him end the call. The question "Hey, where are you from?" blurted out of my mouth and a quick exchange later, he offers, "I am on my way to a pub; everyone speaks English there if you want to come." It was already late and a 7 am au pair shift the next morning awaited me, but I was not going to miss out on this opportunity to make friends. This evening, I found myself conversing with Australians, Germans, and my new Indian friend, all in English, with ciders, stouts, and of course some German Jaegermeister flying about. Nearly two years later, I found myself working at a local Irish Pub in Karlsruhe. Two months after that, I booked an Irish road trip and experienced my first authentic Irish pub in Killarney, Ireland, and then many others every night for the remainder of the trip.
The Irish Pub can be an intimidating concept when you are versed in the culture, so here's a Guide to the Irish Pub Culture from someone who is zero percent Irish.
For starters, you should know the Irish (or Gaelic) word for Cheers: Slaínte! It, like many other words for cheers, means health, and is pronounced, "Slan-cha".
Next, come the beers.
Stout is the most well-known of all the Irish beers because of Guinness, the world's most famous stout. Stouts are dark, nearly black beers, with a creamy foam on top, that often have a slight hint of coffee taste. Although the color may be intimidating and the name might imply a strong taste, stouts are actually quite light. Shockingly enough, it is also one of the lower calorie and carbohydrate (non-light) beer options. It's also packed with phenols. The other most famous stout is Murphy's.
Ale is that reddish-brownish beer you've seen but maybe never tasted. It usually contains a fuller, more flavor-packed taste. Originally, it was brewed without hops, but now many ales contain some, but a lower content than their beer friends. Some famous Irish ale selections are Kilkenny and Smithwick's, wit Killkenny on the creamier side and Smithwick's the more traditional red ale.
Cider, my Irish Pub drink of choice, is not actually a beer, but rather just served like one. It is traditionally made from fermented apple juice, and tastes much like an adult carbonated apple juice. Ciders also come in other flavors, like the popular pear cider ("Perry Cider"). Bulmer's (branded Magner's outside of Ireland) is the cider to drink around Ireland, although many Irish Pubs also serve, Strongbow, an English cider and the most sold cider worldwide.
Pilsner is a light-colored lager and is the beer you are probably most familiar with, which also makes it the most boring order at an Irish Pub.
Blank & Tan
A mixture of ale and stout. A pint glass is filled to around 60% with ale, and then topped off with stout. These are also sometimes made with a lager.
Black Velvet / Tom & Jerry
Originally a mix of champagne and stout, Irish pubs serve up this treat mixing half cider and half stout. This version made with cider can be referred to as the "poor man's" black velvet.
Note: Tom & Jerry can also refer to egg nog mixed with brandy and rum, so keep this in mind.
Snake Bite / Diesel
Snake bites are a mix of lager and cider, but have become more and more popular in their "black" version, which is adding a bit of blackcurrant juice, giving it a pink color.
In addition to the beers and fun mixtures of all of them, there are some other popular Irish pub alcoholic beverages.
A warm coffee drink with a helping of whiskey, sugar, and topped off with cream.
Named for their resemblance to the famous stout, these shots are my personal favorite, Kahlua (or another coffee liqueur) topped off with Baileys. It's like having a piece of candy - candy that makes you feel really good.
People write massive books on whiskeys, and I am no pro, but I can tell you that Irish whiskeys, spelled with the "e", are usually lighter and smoother, while Scotch whiskies (no "e" in whisky), usually contain that more peaty flavor. If you are looking for somewhere to get started, I really enjoy the Green Spot Irish Whiskey. It contains a light green apple flavor.
I will leave you with my favorite insult I learned in Ireland and special giveaway to Amazon (my favorite "shop" in the world) for whoever stuck with me: "Sorry lad, I wouldn't get up on you to hang wallpaper".
What do you order to drink at a pub?
Now go tell Alex hey girl hey on her blog, Twitter and Instagram.