ADVERTISEMENT

Where does the Guinness man go on vacation?

By Sean O'Neill
January 12, 2022
blog_fergalmurry_original.jpg

Fergal Murray's job is to visit about 400 Irish pubs worldwide every year...

As one of eight master brewers for Guinness, the Irish stout maker, Murray is an international ambassador for the brand. This year he expects to hopscotch Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean over the course of about 20 weeks. He will, as always, be thanking pub owners for selling Guinness and offering tips on how to store and pour the beverage.

Given his broad travel experience, Murray knows by heart a variety of spots worth visiting. His favorite place to take his family on vacation is Quinta do Lago, an oceanside resort town in Algarve, the most southern region of Portugal. Last year he went there with his wife and their two sons, a one-year old and a four-year old. Here's what he has to say about the place:

"I would recommend it for American families for a few reasons. First, the town's restaurants and hotels are set up to entertain small children. You can walk into any restaurant with two kids and let the kids be themselves without feeling self-conscious as a parent. The pools are designed to be safe for children, and there's always someone around to mind them. Second, the weather's good and the beaches are fantastic. Third, it's a favorite destination of Irish and British families, but I'd be totally surprised if any American family visits there. So if you are an American visiting the town, you will truly feel like you are visiting another country because none of your fellow citizens will be near you, while you'll still enjoy the benefits of child-friendly facilities and English-speaking staff."

While I chatted with Murray, I had a few pressing questions to ask that weren't precisely travel related, but he was kind enough to answer them anyway...

Is there any downside to your job as master brewer?

I can't stand being served a bad pint. And this causes a problem when I'm out with my wife and two kids. I'll be served a bad pint--it even happens in Dublin, from time to time. Knowing what my reaction will be, my wife will say, "You're not going to do that, now are you?" and then she'll go off somewhere else because she doesn't want to hear any more about how to pour the perfect Guinness, and she knows it's going to take an hour for me to instruct the bartenders. Maybe they need to clean the lines, or change the mix of gas, or make sure that someone behind the bar is fully engaged, instead of looking at blond at the end of the bar.

How does a person become a Guinness master brewer?

There's a bit of drinking involved, of course. But primarily it's a process, a craft. You join Guinness at some stage of your life, and you experience it, and when you've experienced enough, you take exams and get accredited by an external organization. It takes about ten years of experience, and the exams are fairly challenging, covering everything from running a power plant to the chemistry of beer.

You spent three years in Nigeria working for Guinness. What was the deal with that?

In Nigeria, they don't have the same infrastructure, generally speaking, for serving draft Guinness at the ideal temperature. So we concentrated on marketing our beer by the bottle. The Guinness stout sold there is about 7.5 percent alcohol, while in the 'States it's about 5 percent and in Europe it's about 5.5 percent. We vary the alcohol level primarily to accommodate local tastes and regulations and storage methods.

What's your favorite pub in Quinta do Lago?

De Barra. It has an outside deck, great beer, and great craic (the Irish term for good conversation).

Learn more about Algarve and Quinta do Lago at VisitPortugal.com. For discounted travel to Portugal, check out a recent Real Deal for airfare and a week in Lisbon and Porto from $1,044.

Earlier: Learn about kid-friendly places to stay in Europe by clicking here.

Related places

CLUB DISCOUNTS

Save up to 50% on Hotels

1 rooms, 1 guests
ADVERTISEMENT
Keep reading
Inspiration

NYC restaurant discount

Here's a special offer for the female readers of This Just In. If you print out this blog post and bring it with you to Manhattan's Bruno Jamais Restaurant Club on a Sunday night this summer, you'll receive 50 percent off the price of your meal. Located in a townhouse on the Upper East Side (24 East 81st Street between Madison and 5th Avenue), Bruno Jamais has received Zagat Survey ratings of 21 for food, 26 for decor, and 24 for service--placing it in its "very good to excellent range." The restaurant, which is a great place to spot celebrities, has nabbed a good review from New York magazine, too. The lowdown: On Sundays, the restaurant cuts the prices of items on its menu. One course (an appetizer) is $25; two courses cost $37; three courses are $42. Female readers who present a printout of this blog post can receive a 50 percent discount off these prices, paying only $12.50, $18.50 and $21 respectively. It's a ladies-only discount: So if a female reader dines with a male companion, she's the only one who gets the discount off the courses, which already represent discounts off weekday rates. Reservations are recommended. "Casual chic" attire is requested. We're the only major travel publication offering this deal this summer. So, if you go, please be sure to let us know what you think of this restaurant by posting a comment here. (Thanks.) Related deals: A handful of NYC hotel packages. More: A Girlfriends' Getaway Planner for New York City.

Inspiration

Celebrate Frida

Frida Kahlo, the Mexican painter and feminist famously portrayed by Salma Hayek in Frida, would have celebrated her 100th birthday on July 6. To commemorate her life and work, Mexico City is hosting the largest retrospective of her work ever held. The show, which opened today at the museum at the Palace of Fine Arts, includes over 350 works--an impressive third of the artist's oeuvre. Also included are manuscripts, photographs, and letters written by the artist, in addition to a collection of paintings that have never been publicly shown. The exhibition runs until August 19. During the month of August, Frida's childhood home of Casa Azul (now the Frida Kahlo Museum), located in the Mexico City neighborhood of Coyoacan, will be exhibiting some 300 articles of the artist's clothing, as well as letters from Diego Rivera, the renowned muralist to whom Frida was married. (Details at museofridakahlocasaazul.org.)

Inspiration

Crazy festival stories from readers

We recently asked readers of this blog, "What's the craziest festival you've seen?" Here you'll find some fantastic stories. (And be sure to check out our festival slide show.) I lived in Byron, Illinois, several years ago and attended The Turkey Testicle Festival. The festival is always the 2nd Saturday in October, and the first band starts around 11:00am. and the last band plays until 11:00pm. It is a huge event and just about the entire town gets involved. There is dancing and lot's of drinking and yes, for those wondering you have to get an order of Turkey Testicles as they really do serve them. It was a lot of fun and if you are out that way make sure you don't miss it! (Sorry, No one under 21 will be admitted to the Festival.)--Debbie The Trenary Outhouse Classic in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan is the place to be on the last Saturday in February. The crowd of 1,500 to 3,000 watches as two person teams slide elaborately decorated outhouses on skis approximately 200 yards over the snow. Trenary, Michigan.--Jamie D. Caseville, Michigan (near the tip of the "Thumb"), has the summer's best festival: Cheeseburger in Caseville. The Tropical Parade of Fools on Wednesday is awesome. People are dressed as pirates, Caribbean sunbeams, bikini girls, etc. The row, row, your cardboard boat race in Lake Huron is fun, and there is plenty of beach fun. concerts almost every night, and cheeseburgers for sale on grills up and down Main Street. Always in August.--Sally Stewart I'm not sure why Michigan seems to be dominating this list, but I have to put in a plug for the Bologna Festival in Yale, Michigan. What's not to love about a town that is literally full of baloney?--Mike Hofert Last summer I attended the the World Wife-Carrying Championships in Sonkajarvi, Finland. It's a crazy day full of strange and wonderful Finnish traditions. The participants come from all over the world (but mostly Estonia, who completely dominant the competition) to hoist women up on their shoulders in the most hilarious holds in the hopes of winning the honor of first place and....the wife's weight in beer. Sadly, I wasn't able to attend the Mobile Phone Throwing Championships in Savonlinna while I was Finland. Maybe on my next trip!--Anonymous The Crawdad Festival held each year on Father's Day in a little delta town 30 miles from Sacramento, Calif., called Isleton. People come from as far as Louisiana just to here the cajun bands and eat crawfish. This year I took a picture with a CRAWDAD MASCOT. He was very entaining. It has calmed down over the years as it had a New Orleans Madri Grai atmosphere. It is more family oriented. I know because I live in Isleton, Ca. and have attended all festivals during the past 25 years!--Dianna Souza Smith One summer, when my boyfriend and I were heading north to Michigan's Upper Peninsula, we found the highway (I-75) blocked because of an accident. We inched our way to the nearest exit to hang out until the accident was cleared. We found ourselves in Munger, Michigan, where the annual Potato Festival was being held! What a cool country festival! They handed out free 5-lb. bags of potatoes to anyone willing to stand in line for them. I noticed some people were willing to stand in line more than once!--Petie

Inspiration

A Dozen Distinctive Destinations

For the eighth year, the National Trust for Historic Preservation has put together a list of 12 distinctive communities, each one rich with character, a sense of place...and historical preservation activists. One of this year's picks is Charlottesville, Va., which Budget Travel recently profiled, too. [Photo: My Hobo Soul via Creative Commons and Flickr] Here's the full list: Charlottesville, Va.-- This college town is near Jefferson's Monticello, Monroe's Ash Lawn-Highland and Madison's Montpelier. Chatham, Mass. -- Here's a coastal community with an architecturally rich downtown. Chestertown, Md. -- Lined with 18th and 19th century houses, this town--about 90 minutes from Washington, D.C.--holds annual festivals, including a "cute dog" parade. Durango, Colo. -- Nestled between red sandstone bluffs, this town has well preserved Puebloan ruins. Ellensburg, Wash. -- A Victorian town that's home to Central Washington University and offers great fly fishing. Hillsborough, N.C. -- Holds some fantastic summer festivals and boasts an original, rare NASCAR speedway. Little Rock, Ark. -- With a presidential library, a WWII-era submarine, and the world's longest pedestrian bridge, this is the little town that could. Mineral Point, Wis. --Cornish rock houses, Craftsman bungalows, and simple log cabins can be found in this gem hidden in rolling hills. Morgantown, W. Va. --This university town has a Riverfront park with an amphitheater and miles of paved trails. Providence, R.I. --On summer weekend nights, this college town holds a festival with music and small bonfires along a central canal. West Hollywood, Calif. --This predominantly gay neighborhood offers great opportunities to spot celebrities at trend-setting places, such as the ice cream shop Pinkberry. Woodstock, Ill. -- This Victorian village town has a nationally renowned Mozart festival and a Victorian Christmas every year. Related: Budget Travel's list of coolest small towns.