Showing posts with label mcgrady's irish bar. Show all posts
Showing posts with label mcgrady's irish bar. Show all posts

Friday, April 5, 2013

Daily Liquid Bread

This Sunday is a special day. Well, at least it is for us drinkers of the world, for this Sunday is Session Beer Day. For those not aware of this most worthy day, it is a day to celebrate those beers which are, in my opinion, the best in the beer world, and often the most difficult to make. I am, of course, referring to session beers. Of the various drinking establishments in Charlottesville, I know for sure that will have a selection of session beers available this weekend.

Making a return appearance is 21st Amendment's Bitter American, which is 4.4% and boasts 42 IBUs of Warrior and Cascade. I have to admit that I was not a big fan of this beer when I first had it in cans, but on tap it was a rather moreish pint and definitely worth having several rounds of, which is kind of the point of session beers.

Closer the home, McGrady's will have Caledonia from Williamsburg Alewerks. The guys at Alewerks describe this as a 'Scottish Style IPA' and it weighs in at a thoroughly sessionable 4.5%. As a British style IPA, Caledonia uses Styrian Goldings, Willamette and Fuggles for its hopping, which makes be keen to try it as they are three of my favourite hop varieties.

Sneaking a little over the upper limit of session beer as espoused by the Session Beer Project, will be Founder's All Day IPA. As with the Bitter American, this beer has 42 IBUs of American hops and while it is just a touch on the strong side for a session beer, everything I have had from Founders before has been good, so I would expect nothing less here.

Again coming closer to home, and again a touch on the strong side, it is possible that McGrady's will have the Great Outdoors Pale Ale from Three Brothers Brewing, up in Harrisonburg. Great Outdoors is described as being a 'Virginia Pale Ale that is clean, crisp and refreshing'.

There are few better ways to spend a Sunday afternoon than sat in the pub with mates enjoying a few well earned rounds before heading back to the daily grind, session beers like those available at McGrady's this weekend make that idyll almost complete..

Monday, March 18, 2013

A Day for Drinkers

I have a confession to make. I broke my 'no going to the pub on St Patrick's Day' rule last night. having had a fairly quiet shift at the Starr Hill tasting room, a colleague and I popped into McGrady's a quick pint - seriously, the shift was insanely quiet, apparently the lure of half price pints of America's most award winning dry stout was not strong enough. I have two main reasons for not darkening the door of a pub on March 17th each year, one of which I covered in this post, and the other being the pub is packed with people who rarely if ever go. St Patrick's Day, or International Amateur Drinkers Day as some refer to it, is like Midnight Mass for many people, the one time of the year when they actually attend.

Thankfully the beer drinking day for regular pub goers is just around the corner, because April 7th is Session Beer Day. I am sure most of you already know the definition of 'session' beer, as proposed by Lew Bryson and thoroughly approved of by me (I am sure Lew sleeps all the more soundly for knowing that), just in case though a session beer is:
  • 4.5% alcohol by volume or less
  • flavorful enough to be interesting
  • balanced enough for multiple pints
  • conducive to conversation
  • reasonably priced
Session beers are an essential part, in my unhumble opinion, of a good pub, given that pubs are places where people go to meet friends, talk, play pool, all over a few pints of something tasty. I guess this is one of the reasons I fail to understand the mindset of people who want 'more bang for their buck' and drink several pints of imperial IPA because it gets them drunk quicker. While beer is an intoxicant, I am not convinced that beer 'culture', and especially pub culture, is about getting trashed, it's about being social, and beer lubricates the sociability of the scene.

Anyway, last year both Beer Run and McGrady's here in Charlottesville had a decent selection of session beer, including Williams Brothers simply wonderful Scottish Session Ale, which I think I drank McGrady's out of last year. Hopefully this year will see more session beers on tap as well as more pubs having something available. Although this ad is for whisky, I love one line in particular.....'all hail to drinking man!' (or woman, obviously, yes thank you Stan)

Friday, March 30, 2012

Session Beer Day Update

If you read the solitary comment to Wednesday's "Get Your Session On!" post, you will know that here in Charlottesville currently has the following sub 5% abv beers available:
  • Guinness Draught (4.3%)
  • Allagash White Ale (5.0%)
  • Smithwick's Ale (4.5%)
  • Harp Lager (5.0%)
  • Starr Hill Dark Starr Stout (4.2%)
  • Goose Island 312 Urban Wheat (4.2%)
  • Devils' Backbone Vienna Lager (4.9%)
After taking up Scott on his offer to email with suggestions, I am happy to say that McGrady's will have the following beers on tap in time for Session Beer Day next Saturday:
In my continuing efforts to see more Williams Brothers beer from Scotland on the taps of Charlottesville, I mentioned to Scott that they do a couple of session beers, mainly Scottish Session at 3.9% and the Scottish Heavy, known at home as the 80/-, which is 4.2%. Also Joker IPA is a phenomenal beer and at 5% isn't quite a session beer, but is a gorgeous beer that I am happy to drink a few pints of.

Scott also mentioned that session beers will be on special that day and there will be live music from 8 to 11, so get along and get your session on!

Hopefully I'll have an update on Beer Run's Session Beer Day offerings at some point, and if anyone knows any other pubs in Charlottesville or the area doing something special to promote session beer, let me know!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Somewhere New

I ventured into a new pub last night, well new for me at least. , as the name kind of suggests, is an "Irish" pub here in Charlottesville, and for some reason that escapes me I had never darkened its door until last night. Tuesdays at McGrady's is trivia night and I love a pub quiz, though, as the friend I was with discovered, the term "quiz night" seems not to be the common parlance in these here parts.

I think the main reason I had never crossed the threshold is that my experience of ethnopubs is decidedly something of a curate's egg. Most have been awful, but some have been good. There's just something grating about the way many of them range from twee to patronising, with a detour into aggressively nationalistic though getting some key elements wrong. McGrady's though just felt like a rough round the edges pub with green walls, an Irish flag and comedy "Himself" and "Herself" toilet door signs.

Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised, they had a decent selection of beer, though from a purely aesthetic point of view I am not a fan of a wall of tap handles at the back of the bar. I counted 4 beers on tap from our local breweries, a couple from Devils Backbone and one each from Starr Hill and Blue Mountain, which is really good to see.

I have probably said this countless times, but staff make a huge difference to a pub. Would PK have been the same without Klara for example? The staff at McGrady's were pretty good based on this single visit so far, our "server" (a term I really don't like much) was efficient, unobtrusive and generally on top of things. One of the things guaranteed to really annoy me is having a waitress come by every couple of minutes asking if everything is fine or if I need anything, and last night they seemed to get it right, often enough so you don't feel forgotten, infrequent enough that you don't feel like you are being schmoozed for a tip. While I am thinking about it, worse still is when the shift manager is under orders to stop at every table to make everything is OK, there is a fine line between customer service and obsequiousness which is crossed more often than not.

We didn't win anything in the trivia, not really having had to know much about the history of Mardi Gras as a child. It's interesting just how different growing up in Britain is to growing up in the US despite our shared language, a constant source of bemused looks in the Velkyal household is talking about TV shows from our respective youth. I am fairly sure I'll be back at McGrady's fairly regularly as it seems to be my kind of place, and it has a pool table, again always a good thing - thankfully though there is enough room to wield a cue, unlike a bar in Portree I used to go to from time to time.

* A quick reminder for those doing the International Homebrew Project, this weekend is the brewday and I will be tweeting about it with the hashtag #BrewdayIHP.

** the picture is not mine, it is from McGrady's website.

Beyond January

Dry January is over, but my beer fast continues. Well, it continues until Friday. As a general rule I only drink at the weekend, thus my win...