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Friday, March 14, 2008

I hear St. Patrick's Day is coming soon...

Earlier this week I was talking to a Philadelphia bar owner. We were both in the midst of Philly Beer Week, and it was pretty crazy, and pretty great, and the guy turns to me and says, "You know, I just realized that it's St. Patrick's Day next Monday, and I haven't done a damned thing to get ready." Philly Beer Week has kinda taken things over here.

But in the rest of the country, we're in countdown frenzy. I did two pieces for Massachusetts Beverage Business for March, one on Irish beer, one on Irish spirits. I'd like to make a correction right here on the spirits piece: I said that Jameson/Midleton uses bourbon barrels to age their whiskey. They do, but they also use sherry casks. My error, I was writing too fast, and I apologize.

There's also another error in that piece, but it's an editing issue: there's some bitched type in the opening, which is too bad, I really liked it.'s how it was supposed to be (mainly because it's right out of the research for New Jersey Breweries):
I was recently out on the road visiting bars in, of all places, central New Jersey, for a drinking book I'm working on. I drive on these trips, but I drink a lot of water, and I usually only drink about a third of the lower alcohol session beers I order. I also keep a personal breathalyzer in the car. I'm careful and responsible. I take it easy.

Then I walked into a bar called Tierney's, in Montclair: not an "Irish pub," but a workaday neighborhood bar. The quick mid-day conversation reminded me so much of the craic in Irish pubs, and the worn but clean look of the place was just so true, that when the bartender asked me, with a bit of the smiling Irish lilt itself, what I was having, my drinking brain shoved my writing brain out of the way and blurted out, "Guinness and a shot of Powers, please."

As I shook my head in wry self-amusement, sipping a measure of the warm, sweet glow of the Powers followed by its dark countryman, I thought about the strength of the Irish mystique, the Irish 'brand.' There was no Irish music playing in Tierney's, no "Erin Go Bragh" or "Cead Mille Failte" signs,none of the bric-a-brac that says "You're in an Irish place now, boyo," be it authentic or bought out of a catalog to "theme" the place.

But when I settled in at the bar and right away felt at home, the first thing that came to mind was how good a glass of Irish whiskey would taste.

And away I went from there. I am loving some Irish whiskey lately; shared some Jameson 18 out of my flask with a bunch of folks at the Lager Gala at Triumph last night, and made some serious friends for that beautiful drop.


Anonymous said...

Fine whiskey indeed. I was pleased as good be with the turnout and the overall interest shown for lagers last night. Perhaps not worthy of the BA crowd, nevertheless, most of the beer was emptied by the night's end. Thanks Lew for hosting a great night that we will surely build upon in the future.


Anonymous said...

Pouring from your own flask is something that I believe is against the rules of most establishments. Shame on you.
Now excuse me while I wipe my ass with 80 grit sandpaper.

Lew Bryson said...

Thanks, Jay! Looking forward to next year: bigger, better, more ideas.

Anony, yeah, usually it is, but...when one of the guys hitting off the flask runs the joint, you figure you're good, right?!

Stonch said...

I want to avoid ever owning a hip flask. I doubt I will succeed.

Anonymous said...

I can speak for myself and three friends that accompanied me on Thursday nite how much we enjoyed the lager event. As usual Lew, you hosted a great event and we thank Jay and the staff at TBC for their friendly hospitality. I enjoyed all the pilsners which is my favorite style of beer. But I must admit that Jay's Dunkel Lager was the highlight of the evening....I thought I was back in Bavaria again.

And Lew, thanks for a taste of the fine whiskey from the Green Sod.

Anonymous said...

Kind of funny to see Tierney's described as not an "Irish Pub", considering that one night I witnessed a bagpipe band march through the place, and we were no where near St. Patricks day. Of course, I understand that you're referring to Irish Pub as a theme as opposed to the real deal (like my Uncle's old place in NYC).

One thing though...Montclair is in no way "central NJ". We NJers may argue always about where South or Central Jersey begins, but its not north of Newark.

Anonymous said...

There's the advantage of being a known expert. The guy who runs the joint is willing to try what's in your flask. :)

With regards,

Lew Bryson said...

Dead-on with the "not an Irish pub" thing; Tierney's isn't themed, it simply is what it is.

And I'm not getting into sectioning off NJ: if there's one thing I've learned, it's that I'm no expert on the state. That's why I asked Mark Haney to co-write the book with me.

Anonymous said...

Ugh the plastic paddies and Erin Express lushes were out in droves on Saturday night..two nights too early!

Although I ended up at Beneluxx for hours and was pleased that none showed up there haha..

Lew Bryson said...

Yeah, the McBoozers were out in force both weekends of PBW, Rebecca: it was funny how the PBW crowd and the "Drink Me, I'm Irish" bunch pretty much ignored each other when they were in the same places.

Steven said...

" on Irish beer,"

I had the good opportunity to enjoy a couple pints with Seamus 2 years ago at a similar event, what a fine gentleman he is -- and what fine beer he brews.

Anonymous said...

To Ronfromjersey - the bagpipes aren't Irish, they are Scottish. Uilleann pipes are Irish and they are quite different. Sorry but I have to make this clear whenever I can!