Hostel Review: The Linen House Hostel  


Over St. Patrick's day week I returned to Belfast and stayed at the Linen House Hostel located just on the outskirts of the city center. I was a little put off by the bad reviews I had seen on the internet but upon arriving I was pleasantly surprised.

I had ordered a single room and ended up with a room with 2 bunk beds all to myself. I suspect they don't actually have any single rooms but when you only want one bed it doesn't matter how many spare there are in the room with you. The stay cost me £12 a night which wasn't bad at all. In the room, I had a window, sink, rubbish bin and a couple of plug sockets as well as the beds. It was clean and smelt well. The beds were obviously made of cheap materials but they were clean and felt fresh.

There was a shared bathroom on the floor which was always kept clean and the shower was great but strangely not always warm. I hired a towel for the easy price of a pound and it seemed that late checkout was only a pound per hour as well.

The hostel was very well equipped with a kitchen, laundry room and everything else a traveler might need.

There was no curfew at the hostel and in my stay of 4 nights I had no real complaints. The staff were also excellent, especially the American women who did nights. More often than not I was coming in after more than a few drinks and she was more than happy to help me with whatever I needed.

I'm very glad that this place exists and whenever I manage to drag a few of my English friends over the water, that is where we'll all be staying.

You can visit the hostel here: http://www.belfasthostel.com/


The Perfect Guinness, What to Expect and how to Make it.  


In honor of the greatest of all holidays, St. Patrick's day, today I'm going to be talking about a subject very close to my heart - Guinness.

Guinness is probably my favorite drink there is. It's too thick for me to enjoy more than a couple of pints at a time, but I do know people who would drink it all day and be none the worse for it. It's a tough drink to get into, very often people will have their first Guinness in the wrong place and this will ruin their experience of it for ever. I know friends who on the spur of the moment have ordered one in a nightclub and got a plastic pint glass filled with the mysterious brown liquid. So sour and repulsive they never finished it swearing to never drink Guinness again.

However, order a Guinness in the right place where the barman has all the intricateness of a well choreographed and exactly time dance and it will be a hugely rewarding experience.

Now, it goes without saying that the best Guinness is going to be found on the island of Ireland. The fresher it is the nicer it's going to taste. However it's still very possible to get an excellent pint across Europe as long as they serve a lot of the stuff.

Any bar that only serves a few pints of Guinness a day is going to be serving a revolting drink. The best bars will go through a keg of Guinness from the time you enter to the time you leave and this means it's always fresh.

Nextly, the glassware is very important. I'm actually not a fan of Guinness's new glass as you can see below:

That glassware is just to snazzy for my liking however any glass will do the job as long as it's made of glass. I'll take the chance of being hit over the head with one any day compared to the alternative of drinking out of plastics like a child.

Next is my favorite part of the event, the pour. Each barman has his own little style however if they know what they are doing they will take their time. A proper Guinness should take just over second to pour and settle so except no substitutes.

The first thing the barman should do is hold the glass at a 45 degree angle as close as possible to the tap and push forward on the bar handle. He should do this for about 1-seconds until the flow from the tap goes from creamy to dark black. Immediately after it turns black he should hold the glass at the same angle and pull back on the handle letting the Guinness flow through whilst constantly minimizing the distance between the tap and the glass. 

As the Guinness level rise's he should balance out the glass slowly decreasing the angle it's held at until stopping pouring it so the Guinness level is online with the top of the harp you see on the glass.

After this the Guinness should be gently put down and left for about 70 seconds until the Guinness has fully settled. An ametuer barman will use this time to stare at the glass whilst the customer nervously prays the barman doesn't get impatient and top up the drink to early. An expert will use this time to go and serve someone else or take money off the customer.

When the Guinness is ready to be topped up (about seconds) slowly lift it towards the tap and again push forwards but not all the way forward. Minimize the fall distance and let the rest of the Guinness fall into the glass without causing much disturbance so it need not settle again.

Do not draw a shamrock (piss in the pint as the Belfast locals call it) but gently hand over the pint to the customer. The top of the pint should be free of any bubbles and with as smooth a head as possible.

For the customer, many people make the mistake of sipping the head off the Guinness and then drinking the rest. Do not do this. Instead hold the glass at a high enough angle so the black stuff flows underneath the head into your mouth and the head never gets drunk. This also leaves you with a beautiful 'Guinness Mustache' on your top lip which can be licked away, or else everyone can pose for a photo with their Guinness Mustaches if they are tourists.

So it doesn't matter if you're drinking your Guinness this St.Patricks day in the streets of Dublin or the gutters of New York, make sure your drink is treated with the respect it deserves.