Ireland, Scotland, and Bloggers, Oh My!

half American, half UK flag mashed together

This woman’s first real Irish Guinness is imminent, be prepared for the ground to shake.

I’m going to Ireland for a week, my first time there, and then off to Scotland for another longish week, ending at the European Beer Bloggers Conference in Edinburgh.  We’ll be there the same time that the Scottish Real Ale Festival and the Independent Beer Festival will be in town.  We start off with a pub crawl – can you imagine what that’s going to be like, with participants from all three festivals touring (probably the same) pubs at the same time?  Madness, madness I say!  I don’t know what I’ll spend more time with, trying new beers and taking notes, or asking other pub dwellers which festival they’re with.

Can I stay here for a few days?

Right off, I land in Ireland at the crack o’ dawn -well, 7am – on Monday, where my doughty friend Chris will swoop me up and take me under his wing.  He’s already picked a pub for lunch.  I’m horribly, terribly shy, and while I’ve travelled in England and Scotland before, it’s always been on my own.  I’ve been afraid to go into a pub by myself because I didn’t know what to do or how to order or what was expected.  So lunch my very first day will be my first time in a real pub ever.  Hoop-la! This should be fun.  For one thing, as a woman I get to order half-pints without shame, so I have a fighting chance of staying awake that day until jet lag simply slays me.  And I’ve always heard that Guinness over there is, well, different.  I’m a Foreign Extra Stout girl, myself; we’ll have to see how what I’m used to compares with the real thing fresh and on tap.  I’ll pass on their Black Lager, thanks, there’s too little time and too much good beer to taste. I’ve been practicing saying, “A pint of the plain, please.”

It’s been 50+ years that Venetia Stevenson has graced cans of Tennent’s Sweetheart Stout.

I’m guessing I will see Guinness, Guinness everywhere, but is there craft beer in Ireland? Yes there is – there’s an app for that, and I have it.  CAMRA (the Campaign for Real Ale) has a pub finder, the Good Beer Guide.  I don’t know if it’s any good but it’s probably  a lot better than nothing.  Plus I’ll be travelling with someone who’s lived in Ireland and even speaks a little Irish, so if we wander into the Gaeltacht (which we almost certainly will) we won’t be totally stranded.  I think I remember how to say hello in Irish but without very many saints in it…

Arthur’s Seat looming over Edinburgh

Now, when I was last in Scotland (and it’s been a while due to that wee accident of mine), I wasn’t paying much attention to the beer; I was wrestling buy valium with no prescription with a sudden urge to take up watercolors.  The landscape there does that to you.  I do recall two cans of Sweetheart Stout at a pub in Dalmally, which, being truly sweet and properly stout, was absolutely delicious.    I’m a little afraid of what I’m going to find this time.  American-style hopping is taking hold at least in the cities.  It’s a fashion I abhor (most of the time).  I was looking forward to dark, malty, delicious brews, thinking I’d be in THE place that makes beer my way – but maybe not this year.  We’ll see.  Too bad my friend Lindsay Burton from AdventuresInBeerLand won’t be there, she has the most amazing beer radar of anyone I know.  When we go a-tasting together, she always picks better brews than me.

I guarantee I’ll be logging everything I can on UnTappd, so look for me there. Can’t promise pictures, I’m lousy with cameras, but if  it’s a really beautiful brew I will try.

After almost two weeks of hiking and touring and tasting, we’ll end up in Edinburgh for the European Beer Bloggers Conference 2013 (EBBC13).  Slut that I am, I’m going to the U.S. version a couple of weeks later.  It’s going to be very interesting to see how they compare/contrast.   The attendees list looks like there are more professional or sponsored bloggers coming to EBBC13.  This gives me pause; I’ve got five minutes to present entertainingly for the Blogging Around The World segment on beer blogging in the U.S. .  Eeep! I’m supposed to represent my entire nation in five minutes or fewer!  I know of over a thousand citizen beer blogs in the U.S.  Sure, let’s draw some trends from that big pool…I’m sure I’ll think of something.  There may even be slides.

Regrettably, the inestimable Martyn Cornell doesn’t seem to be coming to EBBC13, though I did try to get him on as a speaker.  I can be such a suckup.  He’s the other blogger I know who really digs brewing a large maze made of busheshistory – there are probably more, the world is a large place, but he’s the one I know about.  If you’re reading me and you haven’t read him, shame on a grand palace with great gatesyou, get yourself right over there and take a look.

We’re staying an extra day for a wee excursion to Traquair House, the oldest continually inhabited dwelling known in Scotland.  (It helps that it’s been a royal palace and hunting lodge, those places tend to stay in use.)  It’s also the home of Traquair House Brewing, so we’re going to see the brewworks.  Two lucky souls get to stay at the B&B there for free, but they aren’t us.  We’ll have to make do with our hotel in Edinburgh.I’ll post as often as I can, and a lot from the conference itself, not to make you jealous but to share the wonder.  Here’s to smooth travels…

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