The Session: Where Are We?

We had to make our own entertainment in those daysIt’s a fair question.

Even if we weren’t in the midst of a global pandemic (and, beyond the obvious, the archivist/historian in me gets both very excited about the level of documentation of this ‘experience,’ as well horrified the thought of what it means for digital preservation librarians of the near-future), it’s probably time for a blog update. My new job and our new country were meant to be an opportunity to have a bit more free time (HAHAHAHAHA/please come work for me) as well as the ability to spend more time together as a family than Planet Amazon allowed, but hey, at least we managed one of those things, albeit without furniture. Let’s back up – but I promise, we’ll get to the beer.

We arrived in Dublin from Seattle at the end of January; the plan was to spend about 6-8 weeks in temporary accommodation, find a long-term rental and quickly sell our house in Seattle, then enjoy weekend trips around Ireland and the odd hop over to London for theatre. We achieved only the first and second of those milestones. We have, on the whole, been fortunate: our cats arrived with no difficulties, we found a house near schools that suited both our offspring (no small achievement when you are working with a 10-year age gap and a lack of secondary school places in Dublin), and got our first set of immigration ‘stuff’ done, all while I was flying back and forth to Basel for regular business trips. Side note – there are some good breweries in Basel – Volta Bräu and Kitchen Brew – and, oddly, a very good Mexican bar/restaurant. We moved out of our (furnished) temporary accommodation into our (unfurnished) rental with the understanding that everything in our sea shipment – all our furniture, clothes, books, PELOTON, electronics – would be with us in 1-2 weeks. And it duly arrived at the port and cleared customs, and then everything shut down. We were told everything was to be moved to long-term storage with no known target date for delivery, and to ‘make do.’ Of the inflatable furniture we managed to get before the machine stopped, we’re operating at about 35% capacity…not having a sofa is not something I envisioned, but again, everyone is, so far, healthy, we are not stuck in the US, which looks horrifying right now, so…it’ll make an interesting story, down the line.

HEY LADIESWith that long preamble out of the way, on to the beer – and beer has been part of one of the biggest positives of this entire situation. I managed one rather jet-lagged in-person meetup with the Ladies Craft Beer Society of Ireland the week we arrived (I’d made a previous visit in October, when I was in town on a pre-relocation work trip, and I knew I’d found My People), and then, as Circumstances Changed, we switched to weekly Zoom meetups. Ironically, I feel like I’ve made firmer friends faster with all the physical distancing than I might have otherwise; whether it’s commiserating over Zoom with drinks or just popping in to our Discord to chat about the weather (and what we’re drinking). We’re all going through this bizarre shared experience, and I couldn’t have found a better group of fierce, beer-loving women to bond with.

And what have we been drinking?  How much? How often? I will say that the inability to go to pubs has, in an odd way, fast-tracked our discovery of the Dublin beer scene. We were able to happily wander to The Old Spot or The Merry Cobbler, I’d most likely only be trying whichever local brewery happened to be featured that week; while I did get in one run with the Mikkeller Run Club chapter here and thoroughly enjoyed hanging out at The Underdog afterward, that would be only a monthly opportunity to sample their (excellent) taplist. With the lockdown, breweries and off-licenses quickly mobilized to offer delivery, and getting a weekly mixed box from Craft Central, Martin’s Off-license and Beer Cloud has made discovering new (well, new-to-us) beers The Thing We Do At Home (it’s also been our chief solution to our lack of furniture – the boxes are very handy). I don’t think we’ve been drinking more per se, but I have had the odd after-work whiskey more often than I would under normal circumstances, though again, this may simply be down to working 12-hour days without any breaks and the availability of Really Good Local Whiskey and/or Gin.

I already have some favo(u)rite local beers: Hope Beer’s Handsome Jack IPA, Pass If You Can Pale Ale and Hop-On Session are all wonderful, and Ballykilcavan’s Bambrick’s Brown is delightful. Eight Degrees Hill of the Serpent is one of the best Black IPAs around, and Mescan’s Belgian-inspired beers have really impressed. I’m trying the new mild (NEW MILD JOY) from Four Provinces tonight…for people who can’t leave the house, we’re spoiled for choice.

While I can’t wait to see everyone in person over a fresh pint in a pub, we’re firmly in the ‘can’t complain too much’ category; let’s hope it stays that way.

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