We pulled into the medieval town of Kilkenny about 2pm just in time for the 3pm brewery tour. If Guinness is the King of Beer in Ireland then Smithwick’s(pronounced Smitticks) is the Queen of Beers. Rosy red with a delicate balance of maltiness and bitterness.
There were about twelve of us on this tour, mostly American tourists and we were about to get a history lesson dating back to 1710 when this brewery was established. Our guide walked us through the crumbling walls of an ancient cathedral as she described what it was like to live in Ireland back then as the introduction to the brewing process. I’ll skip the the historical details and the brewing process and lead you right to the tasting room.
The tasting room, my favorite part of the tour, was a cavernous, barrel-walled room lined with pictures and photos of Kilkenny and the brewery. Generations of the local folk and brewmasters peered down on us as our guide transformed into our bartender. And when it comes to pouring the perfect pint, the Irish are passionate and precise. The head of the beer should pile high above the rim of the glass.
The guide fielded questions and poured each of us a pint of Smithwick’s Red Ale. Me, being the final pour, called her on the “spillage” of my pint and she graciously poured another. As the last person at the bar to get my spilled pint, I was lucky enough to also get the perfect pint.