Craft Beer In Seoul

Then it was the last part of our trip, a few days in the capital of Korea (they don’t call it South Korea over there, understandably…)

First was the local (to our hotel, anyway) branch of Craftworks Taphouse. See here bars and restaurants under office blocks, bus stations and the like tend to be grimy, ugly, scary experiences but not so in Japan and Korea. They’re a chain, very nice food, very solid range of their own beers and guest ones from other breweries too…





We ended up over in Itaewon one night and had two vastly differing experiences. I’d read in an article that Reilly’s Taphouse was a spot worth checking out.

Maybe we caught it on a bad night but it was almost empty, smelled a bit greasy and we were told that only 5 taps were working…




About a ten minute walk away Magpie Brewing was a completely different proposition. Despite that it’s quite hard to find (down a side laneway, down a grimy flight of stairs) inside it was cool, stylish, full of bright young Seouites, food smelled great and the in-house beers were super. This is one you need to make the effort to seek out…








(Check out other posts from the same trip from Tokyo and Kyoto and Hiroshima)

Craft Beer In Hiroshima

The third city on our trip through Japan was a little craft beer and a little genuinely bizarre surprises…

The one place that seemed to be recommended (Hiroshima is a relatively small city) was Rakubeer. Upmarket looking, very clean lines inside and very nice beers (that American Wheat IPA from Johana Beer was a doozy). Again, worth spending a few hours in.




Then that lead to the most surreal of all beer experiences on the trip…

I saw this poster in the toilet:


Yah hah. An Oktoberfest in the blazing sunshine in the middle of Hiroshima just opposite the A-Bomb Dome…

Imagine hundreds and hundreds of smiling Japanese men and women drinking (mostly) German beers, eating wurst and pretzels, tons of kids around and all dancing the dance to The Birdie Song (not kidding on this one) to a fake German folk band (I’m fairly sure at least one of them was Irish).

Everyone having a *ball* and not a single openly drunk person in sight either…


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I, of course, found the token Japanese Craft Beer stall. Fine stuff it was too…





(Check out other posts from the same trip from Tokyo and Kyoto and Seoul)

Craft Beer In Tokyo And Kyoto

Right so. I can safely say I wasn’t expecting to write a series of posts on craft beer pubs and bars in Japan and Korea when I left to go there on holidays. However, needs must and when one wants a few beers in said cities the first thing you do (well, I did!) was to Google the local locations to see what came up.

These posts are designed to help you the same way the posts I came across helped me; hope they’re useful.


To be honest we had very little time to experiment here. Night 1 was jetlag, night 3 was after a day watching Sumo (it’s such a brilliant idea – go if you’re there at the right time of year) so we only checked out one place while we were there.

Craft Beer Market is part of a chain, we were close to the one at Jimbocho. Nice vibe, nice staff, food looked decent although we’d eaten beforehand. Meant to take a pic of the beer menu (apologies) but enjoyed what I had. Not that I remember what that was exactly…




By the time we hit Kyoto we were a little more in our stride and had three recommendations for the three nights we were there.

First up was the brilliant Bungalow. Within walking distance of our Machiya helped, the street-side location too, atmosphere as well, great beers (can personally recommend the Shonan IPA) and check out what they use for taps…






Regretted not eating here after seeing what they had on. A definite one to check out.

Second night I had to wrestle with my consciousness. I have a fairly strict rule in life about never going into Irish bars when I’m in another country. You know why – I see enough of them when I’m at home, I want to try something local, I want to be away from home for a while.

Seems now the rule can be bent when they’re Irish *craft beer* bars… and yes, Kyoto has one.

Tadg’s Gastro Pub is run by, unsurprisingly, a guy from Limerick. Solid “home” food menu, all craft beers on the taps, a little hard to find as some directions online still point to their old premises!



We finished off our stay in the city with Beer Komachi. Down a seedy(-ish!) and otherwise closed alleyway it was a great pitstop. The Shonan Session IPA was a particularly lovely experience…



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It was at the end of that night that we got chatting to a group of American, English and Japanese people. One of them, Alex, took the trouble to tweet a pic of me while I was there. It is an accurate representation of my demeanour at the time…



(Check out other posts from the same trip from Hiroshima and Seoul)

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose…



Just a few answers all in one place to questions I’ve been getting on social since it was announced a couple of weeks ago that the weekday radio show on 2FM is ending and that we’re moving to weekends.

In no particular order:

Yes, it’s the last weekday show this Friday September 11th.

Yes, I’m off on holidays after that (finally!) for a couple of weeks. This had been arranged months ago so don’t worry your pretty little heads that I’m off weeping somewhere licking my wounds. I’ll be in Japan. See how any sympathy you had for me evaporated right there? 😉

The first weekend show is Saturday October 3rd. We’ll be live every Saturday and Sunday morning from 11 to 1.

Yes, we will occasionally be presenting the show hungover. It’s the weekend and we’re not saints. You’ll never notice the difference. We’re professionals.

Yes, Cormac and Michael are coming with me, sure who else would be able to tolerate the three of us?

Yes, the show will still have Pointless Piece Of Research Of The Day, Dead Or Alive, 9 Lives, Whose Job Is It Anyway?, competitions, live bands from time to time yadda yadda yadda. Listen now? You’re not going to notice much difference.

Yes, I’ll still be sitting in my desk in RTE furiously tweeting, beer blogging, reviewing books and the like except it’ll be Wednesday to Sunday and not Monday to Friday (well a boy has to have a rest sometimes…)

Yes, I’m still going to be hassling you on social to come to things I’m hosting, moderating and interviewing people at.

Yes, The Poetry Programme is back too on RTE Radio 1 from Saturday September 17th.

Yes, and this is important, I would LOVE you to make the effort and stick the radio on Saturday and Sunday mornings if you normally listen weekdays. We’ll make it worth your while.

And if you can’t there’s always the “listen back” facility on our page on the 2FM website and on the RTE Radio Player. Kind of like a streaming podcast…




* I’ve been asked by RTE to clarify that the picture above will in no way be indicative of our attitude to work when we’re on a weekend radio show.

Book Review – Asking For It by Louise O’Neill


It had been out for a while, but I can’t believe it’s only 6 months since I got my arse in gear and reviewed Louise’s first, award-winning book Only Ever Yours.

Unlike her first gem, this is not set in the future; this is Ireland right now in which Emma, a teenage girl, is gang-raped while drunk at a party, remembers nothing of it and wakes up on the doorstep of her family house the next morning. She has pictures of what happened trawled across the internet and then has to deal with the unexpected fallout as the perpetrators are outed, social media weighs in and the law slowly grinds into gear.

First things first. This is not an easy book to read. It’s harrowing, brutal and nauseating in places because of the subject matter and the vivid reality that it’s all shown in. I realise that’s stating the bloody obvious. I only do so because I’d urge you to get beyond any initial squeamishness you might have – this book looks under the bonnet of society, sex, violence and all of its generally fucked-up hypocrisies.

What’s so perfect about how O’Neill tackles the story is Emma herself – she’s vain, self-centred, has no redeeming qualities whatsoever and thus makes the perfect fictional test case for the disturbing attitudes of seemingly civilised sections of society when it comes to how it deals with the “blurred lines” (of which, of course, are no such things) of rape.

It barrels full-tilt through victim blaming, rape culture, religion, scandal avoidance and the sickening insularity of small towns not just in Ireland but everywhere. It’s thrilling and sickening to see how she pulls absolutely no punches in her ending just as with her first novel (how you wish every author had the balls to do that!)

One other thought – I would never suggest that “YA” is a lessening term, but, just as with Only Ever Yours, this book could easily be released straight on the shelves of new mainstream fiction and no-one would be any the wiser.

You have to read it. I am pleased to add my voice to the chorus of reviews urging you to grab a copy. It’s impossible ever to describe something like Asking For It as “entertaining” or “a great read”. It’s just great.

Book Review – We Don’t Know What We’re Doing by Thomas Morris


It’s been a while back since I read an early proof of Tom Morris’s lovely new collection of short stories. I merely know him as the editor of Stinging Fly and the brilliant Dubliners 100 anthology and that guy I met on a judging panel I was at a Literary Death Match event who was softly spoken, charming and instantly funnier with his assessments of the readers than any of the rest of us.

In this, his first collection of stories, he shows us the pulled back lace curtains of (mostly) Caerphilly with a young lad working his last shift in a video store amidst a messed up love life, a 78-year-old pensioner on the lookout for his third wife, a bunch of Welsh lads on a stag in Dublin and, in Nos Da a borderline SF story of genuine heartbreak and sadness, a man in a sort of purgatory who watches his ex through cameras that are used in his job to create memory tapes for customers unbeknownst to his new girlfriend.

These are gorgeous, gentle, evocative, mainly quite internal small town stories told with strokes of narrative beauty. I find books of short stories a bit frustrating and quite patchy sometimes but Tom’s book should be enough to make anyone that might be of a similar preconception change their mind.

I’m This Year’s MS Readathon Ambassador, It Seems…

There’s always something going on, right?


Well I’m thrilled to announce I’m the ambassador for this year’s MS Readathon. It’s always a brilliant month for kids and adults alike to get together, read more and make money for a great cause – Multiple Sclerosis Ireland.

Sign up now and start reading from October –

Please share around people you think might like to get involved!