With a handful of exceptions, sales of alcohol are illegal in the Republic of Ireland on Good Friday. It's a social policy which has led to Holy Thursday becoming one of the biggest drink-buying days of the year, and there was certainly an atmosphere of panic in my local supermarket last Thursday evening, with almost everyone in the queue in front of me laden with cases of Heineken and Miller. I was just picking up a couple of bottles of O'Hara's Red for an engagement the following morning.
A friend had invited a few people round for a late breakfast at his place. I said I'd bring the beer and was carrying a bagload of Schlenkerla Märzen from DrinkStore, figuring it would go great with the full Irish that was planned. The O'Hara's were for anyone who wasn't up for the smoky goodness -- it's a beer I know works beautifully with the porky delights of a cooked breakfast. As it happened, they didn't get opened as the Schlenkerla was consumed with gusto. Comments from the newbies included "seawater" and "disinfectant", though in a good way, of course.
With the plates scraped clean, we were off home, where a beautiful afternoon was shaping up. We sat out of the bank of stones which will, some day soon, be a patio. Mrs Beer Nut opened a bottle of Weihenstephaner Tradition dunkel that was in the fridge. It's quite tasty, though very thick, sweet and treacly, making it perhaps not the ideal garden beer. I don't do sunshine so I was in the shade with a Westmalle Dubbel, a case of which I received recently through the kind offices of RealBeers.ie. Cool and sharp, this is a much better sunny day sipper.
As afternoon turned to evening, it was time to eat again. Business was booming down at the local chipper, with fish being the obvious fried dead thing of choice. To go with mine I picked the Amberley Pale Ale from New Zealand's Brew Moon. It's a cracker of a beer, this: a very pale yellow and only 4% ABV but absolutely loaded with fresh citric hop flavours. There's quite a bit of sweetness to it as well, so the end result carries juicy notes of melon and peaches on a full and satisfying body. As an accompaniment to battered cod it's absolutely perfect, but even as an everyday sessioner it would still be great. The 64cl bottle is the ideal serving measure too. It's quite a while since I bought it in Redmond's, but I'll be looking out for it again.
And that's where I left my Good Friday drinking. By 9pm I really was fasting and abstaining, ahead of the following day's trip to Cork for the main event of Ireland's beer calendar: the Franciscan Well Easter Beer Festival.
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