First day in Ireland!

And what have I accomplished? Thanks to Steve and Dierdre Metzler, who gave me a tour of the local pubs and restaurants, I have learned something important. Guinness in Ireland is a completely different beast from Guinness anywhere else; here, it’s a silky smooth ambrosia with not a hint of bitterness. It went down so easy I could have easily slid 3 or 4 of them down my throat, but given my current sleep-derived state, I restrained myself to one.

Of course, then we had to follow up with Irish coffee, and yeah, in a few minutes my head will touch the pillow and I will be spending an evening deep in Tír na nÓg.


  1. #1 Mike Wagner
    January 31, 2010

    I can’t stomach any of the North American beer varieties and adore my Guinness, but I do long for the opportunity to have the real thing some day.

    Have a pint for me!

  2. #2 Glen Davidson
    January 31, 2010

    Explanation for leprechauns?

    Glen D

  3. #3 Mrs Tilton
    January 31, 2010

    Fad saol agat, a PZ, agus gob fliuch! (The rest of the traditional wish would, in the present context, be entirely inappropriate.)

  4. #4 jphands
    January 31, 2010

    I love Guinness, and am lucky enough to drink it every Sunday night in a small pub in Greystones (world’s most liveable community, 2008), a few miles south of Dublin on the seaside.

    Ireland is great, but the economy is f*cked. I look forward to PZ’s talks in the next couple of days.

  5. #5 gigi
    January 31, 2010

    Irish Guinness is magically delicious!

    *I’ll grab my coat on the way out…*

  6. #6 David Marjanovi?
    January 31, 2010

    a PZ

    A PhZ even.

  7. #7 Carlie
    January 31, 2010

    Mmmmm, Guinness.

  8. #8 JerryM
    January 31, 2010

    Have you done any blaspheming yet?

  9. #9 jphands
    January 31, 2010

    Hey, PZ – if you’re at a loose end at all, I can show you some of the sights a bit south of Dublin – the sugarloafs, the Sally Gap, Powerscourt. You have my email address in your inbox somewhere.

  10. #10 Mrs Tilton
    January 31, 2010

    A Dhaithí @6,

    I am all impressed now. Still, given PZ’s use of initials as a name, I decided that the lenition, though audible, would be invisible.

  11. #11 Dianne
    January 31, 2010

    I will be spending an evening deep in Tír na nÓg.

    You’ll spend the evening contemplating homeobox domains and embryonic stem cell genes?

  12. #12 sbtech001
    January 31, 2010


    Ah typical greystone heads bragging 😉 .

    Come to the northside of the city PZ. Thats where all the magic is… and far less gang crime than people claim .. ahem.

  13. #13 Hunt
    January 31, 2010

    What a life. I want to grow up to be just like you.

  14. #14 Odonata
    January 31, 2010

    This Irish Coffee looks delicious and worth a try.

  15. #15 jphands
    January 31, 2010


    DNS????? (That’s Dee Nort Soyid, or “De North Side” of Dublin.

    You know the old joke? “What separates humans from Animals? The Liffey”!!!!!!

    Actually, I work in a data centre in Crumlin, which is where most of the drug shootings seem to happen. That’s not DNS.

    Maybe I should take PZ to see Ballymun…..

  16. #16 GregGorey
    January 31, 2010

    I experienced a similar thing with Heineken in Northern Europe. Over there, it is absolutely delicious.

  17. #17 David B
    January 31, 2010

    PZ, make sure you sample the Beamish stout when you are in Ireland.

    On my trips there I have conducted extensive research into the vexed question of whether Guinness served in Ireland is better tha Beamish served in Ireland, and my conclusion was that Beamish just edged it.

  18. #18
    January 31, 2010

    Ah a good auld creamy pint of Mothers Milk (Guinness for you none Irish of us). Enjoy the finest Ireland has to offer.
    I suggest a trip to Guiness Brewery and Jameson Distillery while in Dublin.
    And if you’re heading up northwards to Queens always worth the extra trip to Giants Causeway and of course Bushmills distillary (worlds oldest licenced Distillary, 1608) just round the corner form it.
    Enjoy the trip, you’ll find we’re not all believers in the giant spaghetti monster, or any other fancy do-da in the sky. And even those that are are decent folk as long as you don’t ridicule them too badly.
    And don’t skimp on the blasphemy, we’ll organise a lawyer for you if needed.

  19. #19 dexitroboper
    January 31, 2010


  20. #20 jphands
    January 31, 2010

    Don’t forget Newgrange. Makes Stonehenge look like a kid’s toy.

  21. #21 Paddy-O
    January 31, 2010

    Argh… for all those who like to hate on American beer, all I can say is: I understand (for the most part). However, if you’ve had a decent brew from one of the good microbreweries around here, then your perspective is likely quite different. I’m on the east coast, so Dogfish Head, Victory, and Brooklyn are all good beers. But if the cost gets to be too much, do what I do.

    Put on your chemist hat (don’t worry, I was a business major, and am now a lawyer) and brew your own! I’m happy to report that on a nice weekend like tonight, I’m quite inebriated off of the 2 beers I have on tap in my warm house. Brew your own and have beer that is even better (gasp!) than the amazing Guinness!

  22. #22 MadScientist
    January 31, 2010

    So long as the guinness is cool enough it won’t be bitter – in fact there’s a slightly sweet taste to it. Did you learn the proper way to order a guinness? (about 10 minutes before you need it)

  23. #23 sbtech001
    January 31, 2010


    LOL . Lets not forget ballyfermot. The north side doesn’t have a monopoly on kips. 😉

    ah crumlin the brown stain on the bottom of a monopoly board. j/k

  24. #24 jphands
    January 31, 2010

    # 21.

    You need to visit Belgium. I recommend Duvel, Pink Elephant, or my favourite non-Guinness beer : Kwak, with the glass you cannot put down and 8% by volume.

  25. #25 mdc.431
    January 31, 2010

    You know at only 4.3%, you could easily has 3 or 4 and not worry about it.

    Also, do they serve Guinness on nitro in Ireland? That’s the reason I don’t like it – the nitro mouthfeel sucks.

    And anybody who says they any of the North American beer varieties hasn’t tried enough. The US craft beer scene is enormous – arguably the best in the world.

  26. #26 jphands
    January 31, 2010


    Ballyfermot??? Pshaw.

    I see your Ballyfermot and raise you a Tallaght.

    And, if you’re not careful, I’ll invoke skobies and head for Bray.

  27. #27 jphands
    January 31, 2010


    Nitro????? Heresy.

    The US microbrewery scene is excellent, though – I know Silicon Valley, Oregon around Portland and Georgia around Atlanta and a couple of strange redneck towns in the Carolinas, where I (worryingly) seem to fit in. All their beers are super, but see my Belgiumm post.

  28. #28 mdc.431
    January 31, 2010

    @ jphands – By Pick Elephant, did you mean delirium tremens?

    And speaking of Belgians, I’m getting ready to open a Tripel Karmeliet for the first time tonight. =D

  29. #29 dragonet2
    January 31, 2010

    I do not like Guinness here in the U.S. We took the brewery tour while in Dublin, when I said I might not want my free pint, Dr. Paisley told me he’d finish it. I started, he turned and asked if he could take it. I cringed back clutching my glass and going “No Way!” Yum.

    For whatever reason we have a lot of fine local and regional breweries here in Kansas City. Boulevard Brewery, now the largest Missouri-owned brewer in the state… is down the hill from my house and I can’t name all the restaurant/breweries that have sprung up in the last 15 years or so.

    I think we quit drinking any crap beer in about 1995 or 6, we had a load of cans for the recycler and there was a line beyond where there were no beer cans anymore. And now we have a new glass recycler that has put up bins just about everywhere–you don’t need to go up to the city’s recycle lot on Deramus or wherever (there are three of them, all in fairly industrial spots).

    I wanna go back and spend a couple of weeks in Ireland, We now also have a friend who lives in Leitrim.

  30. #30 Registered User
    January 31, 2010

    Budweiser (Budvar) in Czech Republic is also really good. It’s unfortunate that it essentially tastes like piss in the U.S.

  31. #31 'Tis Himself, OM
    January 31, 2010

    or my favourite non-Guinness beer : Kwak

    Do you brag about your high school after drinking it?

  32. #32 Doktor Zoom
    January 31, 2010

    Obligatory old joke: How is American beer like sex in a canoe?

    It’s fuckin’ close to water.

  33. #33 mdc.431
    January 31, 2010

    @ #30 –

    Budweiser Budvar fron the Czech Republic is a completely different beer than Bud in the US. The only similarity is the name. You can get Budvar in the US – it’s labeled as Czechvar here.

  34. #34 TimKO,,.,,
    January 31, 2010

    PZ, beer is made from hops. Hops is a bittering agent; stout is supposed to have a hint of bitterness whereas some varieties are supposed to be very bitter and tangy.

    It’s a myth that Guinness is best in Ireland as professional tasters will tell you. Freshness is the issue. Problem beer is beer that has soured or been damaged in shipping or storage. Bitter=good. Sour=bad. The problem with ordering Guinness in America is that bars here sometimes don’t sell enough and the keg is old or else they don’t bleach their tubes out often and sour impurities enter the stream. If you go to an American bar that specializes in stouts and has a wise clientèle, the Guinness will be just as fresh as in Ireland.

    The reason Guinness tastes different in Dublin is because it is not allowed to ferment as long and therefore has less alcohol content, making it seem smoother and also allowing to drink more. This is because it is taxed by specific gravity and in order to remain competitive in the home market it has to have less alcohol (as well as matching local tastes and demands). Guinness shipped to America has 5-6% alcohol as opposed to 3.5-4.1% in Ireland. In Singapore it’s 7-8%.

  35. #35 Alverant
    January 31, 2010

    There’s a microbrew here called Two Brothers. I don’t like everything they make, but you can always taste the quality. There was a “beer school” at the local Whole Foods where you paid $10 and got to try like 20 different beers. One time around beer #12 we were given a taste of Guinness as a “palette cleanser” Guinness tasted like fucking flavored water. There was no body, no character, no nothing. It was awful, really like gallon of water mixed with a teaspoon syrup then overloaded with fake coloring so it looks real. A decent microbrew in the US is far above the Guinness they ship overseas.

  36. #36 The effin' bear
    February 1, 2010

    Well, PZ, perhaps with your chummy confrontational and fact-based style you’ll resolve the Catholic v. Protestant driven civil war. But I have my doubts.

  37. #37 hotLunch
    February 1, 2010

    Enjoy the Irish beer PZ!

    If you’re ever looking for a truly great American stout and you’re near the Cleveland area, you gotta stop by Great Lakes Brewing Company The selection overall is outstanding and has won multiple awards, and if you stop by at the right time of year we have a bourbon barrel aged “blackout” stout that is by far the best I’ve ever had anywhere

    Also, cheers to Paddy-O for mentioning Dogfish Head, they are consistently innovative and excellent.

  38. #38 The effin' bear
    February 1, 2010

    @ # 37 hotLunch — any chance that beer is distributed to the S.E. U.S.? I’ll be on the lookout for it — from your description, it sounds real tasty.

  39. #39 Thunderbird 5
    February 1, 2010

    When I was 12, one morning I rushed to school without any breakfast and promptly fainted in Assembly. My estranged mother recommended to my father (single parent) that he give me a glass of Guinness every evening because I was “at that stage of development” and needed it. The advice was duly followed and I was sent to the back door of the local to profer an old cow creamer jug for filling with a half pint every evening just before our tea.

    My mother (66) and her mother (89) both still drink a pint of Guinness every evening, which they collect at 5pm from the pubs in their respective villages here in Cornwall. They say the draught stuff now available in cans is alright for an emergency but isn’t the same otherwise. When I visit they insist I immediately partake of the good stuff too – usually along with pointed remarks that my pallor/skinniness/fatigue etc is entirely due to my not keeping up the habit. I always drink the stuff when I go out for a session but somehow I can’t yet bring myself to ‘knock on the back door’ every evening.

  40. #40 Daniel de Rauglaudre
    February 1, 2010

    Sorry, I support nobody here. Alcohol = Poison.

  41. #41 John Morales
    February 1, 2010

    Daniel, Dosis facit venenum.

  42. #42 shatfat
    February 1, 2010


    Duly noted, Mr. Spock–?

    @everyone else

    quite enjoying this thread. carry on, please. And, oh, yes, A. Busch stole the name of Budweiser for his cruddy Pilsner-style ripoff. The people of Budejovice, CR (BOO-dye-yo-vits-a) are not amused.

  43. #43 Daniel de Rauglaudre
    February 1, 2010

    Sorry for being spoilsport, but I consider that:
    1/ Doctors say that the maximum dose of alcohol for pregnant women is zero. I am not pregnant (btw I am a man :-)), but it is interesting.
    2/ Perhaps most drinking people are reasonable, but some are not. Alcohol destroy many lives.
    3/ I have a tendency of depression. For people like me, alcohol is very dangerous. The risk to become alcoholic is high.
    4/ Alcohol is bad associated with all medicines.
    5/ Delirium tremens is not, as many people believe (e.g. #28), the fact to have hallucinations because of too much drink. It is the fact to miss alcohol and it is very painful, just like missing heroin.
    6/ It is very difficult to stop alcohol, much more difficult than stop cigarettes.

  44. #44 John Morales
    February 1, 2010

    Daniel, first, I congratulate you on your English.

    1. The concern is for the fetus.

    2. Yes. But most things done done to excess are problematic. That does not mean most things are unequivocally bad.

    3. Sounds about right. Certainly, alcohol is not a cure for depression.

    4. I doubt that’s true. Have you a source for this claim?

    5. Yes. Withdrawal of a drug one is physiologically addicted to is nasty.

    6. It probably is, but I doubt it’s more difficult. Have you a source for this claim?

    No-one is forcing you to drink alcohol, but I sense that, if you had your way, you’d force others to not drink.

  45. #45 Daniel de Rauglaudre
    February 1, 2010

    4/ I admit I made a generalization of what I observe when reading the notices of the medicines. Same for 6/. OK, perhaps they are false.

    The problem with seeing people having happiness with alcohol is precisely for depressed people: they see happy people who are drinking, and since happiness is their problem, they want to copy them.

  46. #46 sophievdp
    February 1, 2010

    awesome. can’t wait to see you in galway! 🙂

  47. #47 claire-chan
    February 1, 2010

    Enjoy your stay in Ireland, PZ. 😀 The Irish blasphemers presumably are a friendly lot.

  48. #48 JBlilie
    February 1, 2010


    There are several, seprately brewed types of Guinness Stout:

    1. Guinness Draft Stout: The tap beer typically infused with nitrogen on dispensing. It’s the pint with the fancy cascade and head most people associate with Guinness.

    It does vary as beer is a perishable product that generally doesn’t travel well. I’ve consumed this product in Ireland many times and in at least 10 other countries, including the USA.

    I taste only small differences at different locations, including the USA. The draft cans with the patented widget in them (love ’em) also are very close approximation to the in-country draft product. Most of the draft product is probably locally brewed, so differences in local water, malts, hops, (and maybe yeasts as well) will have an impact on flavor. Sure, it’s nice to tip a pint in Ireland; but (per Michelin) it does not rate a trip for that purpose. Nevertheless: A superb and classic tipple.

    2. Guinness Extra Stout: Usually sold in 12-ounce bottle in the USA. Completely different flavor profile from the Draft product. Much more bitter, heavier, stronger. My first experience with Guinness was GES and I still love it.

    3. Guinness Foreign Extra Stout: Like the GES except “turned up to 11.” Over the top for my taste.

    4. Guinness Special Export Stout: Similar to the GFES.

    This Statement comes from the Guinness website:

    GUINNESS® is GUINNESS® – wherever you are. We always use pure, fresh water from natural local sources for the GUINNESS® stout brewed outside Ireland. That said, in blind tests (with a bunch of highly cynical journalists) none of our sample could tell the difference between Irish-brewed GUINNESS® and the locally produced variety. All the GUINNESS® sold in the UK, Ireland and North America is brewed in Ireland at the historic St. James’s Gate Brewery in Dublin.

    (Of course they have a vested interest in promoting their product as uniform.)

    Happy drinking!

  49. #49 Lilo
    February 1, 2010

    Further to #46, I suggest you venture to Taaffes, Freeneys or Murphys Bar on Shop Street when in Galway if you want to taste more of the real ‘beast’!

  50. #50 JBlilie
    February 1, 2010

    In another style, I recently had a Boulevard Brewing Company Saison , which was a superb example of the style, brewed in (of all places) Kansas City Missouri, USA. Their Sixth Glass is also excellent.

  51. #51 JBlilie
    February 1, 2010

    TimKO @34:

    I agree with everything you state except the discussion of hops. Hops are a flavoring agent (and to a lesser extent: preservative and they have some impact on physical/chemical processing in the kettle). They are one of the bittering agents (normally the main one; normally dwarfing the other bittering effects) in the brew.

    But in Guinness Draft Stout, a signifcant part of the bitterness in the profile comes from the dark-roasted malt in the brew. (They could use dark-roasted barley, since the dark-roasting process normally destroys the amylases and diastases; but they use dark-roasted malt to comply with beer purity laws such as the Reinheitsgebot.)

    The Guinness Extra Stout exhibits a much more pronounced hop bitterness.

    In general, beers of the British Isles (including Ireland in this phrase) are hopped at much lower rates than are used in continental Pilsers, Belgian ales, and craft brews in the USA. So, other flavors come to the fore, especially malt (and sometimes finishing hops), which is why we love English, Irish, and Scottish beers.

  52. #52 cuco3
    February 1, 2010

    It certainly used to be the case that Guinness brewed in Middlesex, England was different to that from Dublin. It was deliberately made to pour quicker. Possibly no longer the case.

    Don’t restrict yourself too much. Stout is all very well but Ireland boasts some very fine whiskies.

  53. #53 bbgunn071679
    February 1, 2010

    Dr. Myers – If you’re having trouble sleeping, I recommend an Irish Boilermaker (don’t know if that’s what it’s really called, but that’s what I called it.)

    I was in Dun Laoghaire a few years back, and a local pub operator suggested I try this to help me sleep. He poured an ounce of Irish whiskey (Powers, I think) into a shot glass, put a half-pint pub glass over the top, then tilted the pub glass back upright with the shot glass upside down inside the pub glass. Filled it with Beamish. When I tipped back the pub glass, the shot glass tilted back releasing the whiskey. After doing two in 30 minutes, I somewhat staggered back to the Royal Marine Hotel, found my room and slipped into a peaceful slumber at 8PM. Woke up refreshed at 7AM the next morning.

    My love for Ireland, Irish whiskey and beer was cemented during that business trip.

  54. #54 mdc.431
    February 1, 2010

    Daniel de Rauglaudre:
    “5/ Delirium tremens is not, as many people believe (e.g. #28), the fact to have hallucinations because of too much drink. It is the fact to miss alcohol and it is very painful, just like missing heroin.”

    I know that. Delirium Tremens is the name of a Belgian Pale Ale. It has pink elephants on the label. That’s why I mentioned it in a comment about Belgian beer.

  55. #55 Peter Henderson
    February 1, 2010

    What about ye PZ

    I gather you’re going to make it to Norn iron on Friday and are giving a lecture in QUB in Belfast ? Hoping to get along although I’m a bit pushed for time. You’ll find our accent even more colourful than the one down south.

  56. #56 No More Mr. Nice Guy!
    February 1, 2010

    @#15 et al…

    Ah jaysus would yiz not be slaggin’ de Nort Soyd fer fook’s sake… At least it’s not Swords … the shite-est town in Ireland.

  57. #57 Cathal
    February 1, 2010

    @ 17

    Yess! Beamish is a superior stout, keep spreading the word, brother.

  58. #58 Chris Hughes
    February 1, 2010


    I stayed at an hotel in Swords once — I don’t remember seeing a town there…

  59. #59 Daniel de Rauglaudre
    February 1, 2010

    mdc.431 #54: OK, sorry for the misunderstanding.

  60. #60
    February 1, 2010

    PZ – Humanist Ass of N Ireland members really looking forward to hearing you in Belfast on Friday

  61. #61 nuada-oz
    February 2, 2010

    Dia duit,
    fáilte go Érin

    perhaps you could explain the laws of thermodynamics to the Steorn company as to why the Orbo device doesn’t work.


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