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Queensland, Australia
I'm an Australian author of Contemporary Romance, Romantic Action/Adventure, and Historical fiction. I live in Queensland, Australia. www.noelleclark.net

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

When in Ireland... The great beer debate

When I visited Ireland, I wanted to sample two things.

A pint of Guinness – that black, creamy-topped, hoppy stout famous the world over. And Jameson’s whiskey – the smoother alternative to Scottish whisky. Note the different spelling  -  Irish whiskey has an ‘e’, Scotch, or Scottish whisky doesn’t.

Rivalry? Perhaps. But coming from Australia, where our beers are served ice cold, most varieties are usually light lagers, and drunk copiously on hot summer days. In Ireland, I wanted to delve into the history and tastes of brews that have satisfied the Irish locals for nearly 300 years, and are also exported all around the world.

So, in this post, we will discuss the beers and stouts that are as Irish as Paddy’s pigs. Next week, I will tell you about my visit to the Dublin-based Jameson’s Distillery, and famous Bushmill's Distillery in County Antrim, Northern Ireland.

Guinness, the Black Beer, as it is sometimes called, is like no other black stout in the world. 

Guinness was first brewed in 1725 by Arthur Guinness. It was so popular that the brewery had to move to larger premises. In 1759 Arthur Guinness signed a 9,000 year lease on a disused brewery at St James' Gate, Dublin. It cost him an initial £100 with an annual rent of £45.

The history of this iconic brand and world leading stout is a compelling story of invention, passion and belief. Famous for its Irish provenance and exceptional colour, this most prestigious of black beers is brewed in over 50 countries and enjoyed in around 150 worldwide, with more than 10 million glasses enjoyed worldwide, every day. It is available in two main varieties: Guinness Draught and Guinness Foreign Extra Stout.

Guinness purists don’t just sit in any old bar and order a pint of their favourite tipple. Guinness themselves have developed a smartphone app that lets drinkers key in their location, and it will bring up a list of nearby pubs where they pour the brew properly. You see, pouring a pint of Guinness stout is not the same as pouring any old beer. To do it properly, it needs to be done with a two part pour. Filling a pint glass using this method takes exactly 119.5 seconds.

In sampling the rich and hoppy brew, I found the flavour to be pleasant, the aroma divine, but the size of the pint glass was way too big for my appetite. The pint is equal to 568 millilitres or about 17 US fluid ounces.

Kilkenny Irish Cream Ale is, for me, a compromise. Not as heavy and dark as Guinness, it is still
definitely more aromatic and flavoursome than a lager beer. Creamy with hints of mocha and cinnamon, Kilkenny is Ireland’s other much-loved dark beer.

It is owned by the same company as Guinness (Diageo) and its heritage dates back to the 14th century.

Kilkenny Irish Cream, with its deep red hue and rich, creamy head delivers a distinctively smooth and flavourful taste. Kilkenny beer is craft brewed in the oldest operating brewery in Ireland – Smithwicks – in Kilkenny. 

The original name for Kilkenny beer was Smithwicks. The brewery, established in 1710, is the oldest continuously operating brewery in Ireland and its flagship beer, Kilkenny, has been brewed there (with the name change from Smithwicks) all that time.

The brewery is located on the grounds of Saint Francis Abbey Brewery, Parliament Street, Kilkenny, and is open for tours. See http://www.smithwicksexperience.com/

And now, coming from someone who likes a cold and refreshing lager on a hot day, I have to say that Ireland’s best-selling drop, Harp Lager, is delightful.

Launched in 1960, Harp Lager, with its sparkling colour and fresh flavour makes it a distinctive winner in the thirst quenching stakes. It is a popular export and a worthy ambassador for the Diageo company, owner of both Guinness and Kilkenny.

And so, having myself sampled these three iconic Irish beers, I wonder what readers can add to this discussion. Do you like the thick, black Guinness? The less hearty but very tasty Kilkenny? Or the fresh, zingy Harp Lager? Here's a fun little poll. Why not cast your vote in the comments section below and we'll see what others think.

Here's me hard at work, doing research for my latest series set in beautiful Ireland. That's a glass of Kilkenny's I'm inspecting, in Temple Bar, Dublin.

Next week, I’ll tell you about my love affair with Jameson’s Irish Whiskey. Hope you’ll stop by and raise a glass with me.

Available for pre-order soon from Secret Cravings Publishing 

Book 1 of the Robinhill Farm series  -  Honor's Debt.

Release date: November 13th

Honor Quirk arrives in Ireland excited—and a bit anxious—about meeting up with the estranged family of her late great-grandmother. The welcome from her cousins, Dermot and Bryan, is confusing and far from comforting. One is warm, the other aggressive. The outwardly antagonistic Bryan makes it very clear he doesn't want her there, branding her a gold digger.

Dermot, on the other hand, is delighted to meet her.

But Honor is no pushover and stands up to Bryan, letting him know that his bad attitude and trail of baggage have nothing to do with her. Despite their confrontational and hostile relationship, an undeniable attraction to each other creeps insidiously into the house on Robinhill Farm. They both desperately try to stifle the sparks, but living under the same roof makes it impossible. Unable to cope with the turmoil of living with Bryan, Honor runs away, straight into the arms of a charming newfound friend, Sean, who offers her a home—and love.

Shattered, Bryan finally takes control of his irrational belief that all women are evil, and fights to bring back the woman he loves. But is it too late?


  1. Aaah, the things authors do for research. I'm not a beer drinker - takes up too much tummy space that I prefer to save for food. Love the cover, love the blurb, I can't wait to get to know Honor. Cheers to you.

    1. Hi Kendall. Thanks for visiting!! I love a cold beer on a hot day, especially when I've been gardening or mowing the lawn. But it's great to try a few different tastes. I'm looking forward to our Christmas drinks in a month or so. :-)

  2. Gimme a beer over lager any day. Great post missus!

    1. Hi Shey. Thanks for visiting. Tell you what.... when we finally meet in person I'll buy you a beer. And a wine. Or three. ;-) xx