Dublin has a variety of beer options, whether you are looking to sample local craft beer or simply drink the local styles. There is no shortage of Irish stouts and red ales on Nitro for you to enjoy at the various pubs. Unlike many other areas, you don’t currently have the options of visiting breweries except for Guinness. Thankfully Galway Bay Brewery has seven different pubs in Dublin you can visit to enjoy their variety of house beers and many guest beers.
There is a certain simple pleasure to sipping reds and stouts after getting used to hazy Ipas. Most pubs I visited had the standard Guinness and Smithwicks (red, pale, and blonde) on Nitro and many had other red ales or stouts on Nitro as well. While you can get Smithwicks in cans, nothing compares to the nitro pours at the pubs.
Though I visited around 15 different pubs over many days, I never once encountered a dirty glass or dirty lines. There is a dedication to quality presentation at the pubs in Ireland that American bars could learn from. Pints are strictly defined and most pubs served me an identical amount of beer when I ordered a pint. You can always order a glass if you want a half pint of something at a pub and they won’t mind. Most were also happy to give me a taste of a beer or two if I wasn’t sure what I wanted.
There is a roasty character to the proper Irish red ales I drank over the last few days that I haven’t often encountered in the US and I will miss this flavor. I also had a few lovely Irish Pale Ales (IPA for short) that were similar in character to English bitter styles. In Dublin you can also find both Irish and English craft beers in the stores. I only encountered Cloudwater beer on tap once and they had run out before I ordered it.
Besides the much hyped Cloudwater from Manchester UK, you can find other local Irish versions of kettle sours, hazy Ipas, and others at liquor stores around the Dublin area, typically called Off-License on a sign outside. The one can of Cloudwater hazy Ipa I bought was fantastic and I highly recommend grabbing some if you are looking for that style. My recommendation is to drink all the craft Irish stouts, reds, and pales you can find and add in the occasional pint of Smithwicks. I have only had terrible experience with the local lagers, sometimes called blonde ales, and would suggest you never order those.
Of the various craft beer bars I visited, the two connected with Galway Bay Brewery were my favorites. You can find a list of their Dublin pubs on their website and you should consider visiting one of their pubs at least once. My only complaint is that they have the same food menu at each of them, so you don’t get to try unique food at either spot. I greatly enjoyed their pub ale and they also have a delicious milk stout and various hoppy offerings to try.
During my four days of drinking in Dublin, my only other complaint is that I didn’t have any serious conversation at the various pubs I visited. It must be too obvious that I am a tourist with my camera over my shoulder. In all, I found my experience in the Dublin pubs to be much superior to my past visit to London. Though it could also have been my approach to the pubs that was different as well.
On my lats evening in Dublin, I decided to finally visit the local pub near where I was staying in my Airbnb near Drumcundra station. The pub there had a drastically different feel and was clearly the spot for the locals to spend their evenings drinking and watching football. I spent a few hours there enjoying the conversation they were having, watching the games, and drinking a few pints. It was a highlight of my trip.
Pubs to Try
Dublin has a variety of pubs you can visit but the ones below are some of my favorites.
1. Any of the pubs connected with Galway Bay Brewery. The staff was always welcoming and they have a good number of guest taps.
2. The Stag’s Head – We visited on a crowded evening and the place had a lovely energy about it.
3. Darkey Kelly’s – Nice traditional Pub that has live music in the evenings.
4. Get out of Downtown Dublin and visit smaller neighborhood pubs. This is the way to get the best local experience.