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.
Henhouse Brewery was our first stop on our second day. After visiting the main brewery location, I was told that they have a sour brewery location elsewhere although this is only a review of the main brewery location. They have a large building which has a decent amount of indoor seating and fairly large outdoor seating area. Like other breweries in the area, pints were a better deal than tasters so that is what I stuck to here and elsewhere.
I started with their house saison which was super dry with lingering notes of black pepper, mild bitterness, and hints of pear. After that I ordered their beer titled independent AF IPA. The beer was hazy thanks to the addition of wheat malt. It was hazy in appearance but not particularly juicy. The beer had tons of hop aroma with notes of papaya and an herbal bitter finish. I left with cans and they have been enjoyable once I returned home.
Moonlight is known primarily for their dark lager titled death and taxes. It was strangely cold in their tasting room when we stopped by and there was also a painting class going on so we didn’t stay too long although the few beers that I had were quite excellent.
I started with their Pilsner which was nice and traditional, classic and dry with notes of hay and overall easy drinking. The beer is served as a full half liter. I had tried their death and taxes beer before so when I saw that they had a beer called boney fingers, a slightly stronger version they make for Halloween, I ordered that immediately. The beer was roasting and mildly smoky with notes of dark chocolate and perfectly balanced. I grabbed a four pack before I left and am glad I did because the two I have opened so far were quite excellent.
I finished with a low alcohol saison called Wee Nibble. The beer was dry and lightly herbal with hints of lemon and banana. It was a solid version of the style. Moonlight seems to make some of the more traditional beers of the breweries I visited and so would make a good spot for someone to visit who is there for Russian River primarily.
Before leaving town, we made our way to a brewery called woodfour, known for its barrel aged beers and sours. They have a spacious indoor seating area and large outdoor deck with covered seating.
I started with their Berliner weisse, a beer that they spontaneously ferment. It was hazy yellow with subdued tartness and notes of peach and mild funk. If I had any room left in my suitcase, I would have bought some cans to bring home because it was quite excellent. Rather than having a version with fruit added, they offer you to order the beer with syrup although I prefer to drink plain.
Next was there wild Saison called Brett mother. It was intensely funky with notes of acorns, mild lemon, and grapefruit that comes out as it warms up. The first few sips took some getting used to but I grew to enjoy the beer before I finished the glass. I finished with their sour farmhouse ale which was intensely tart with notes of green papaya and peach and as you get used to the beer the funky base comes through with notes of earthy malts and hints of acorns. I don’t know if it was this particular beer or the fact that I was drinking three sour beers in a row, but I was unable to finish my third beer. I think perhaps their house yeast didn’t agree with my stomach in such large quantities.
Woodfour has a special style slightly different from other sour breweries out there so it’s hard to compare them to my favorites. They certainly have achieved a nice house yeast flavor that is distinguishable between their sours. They also had a lovely dark lager with coffee that my husband enjoyed while he was there.
Visit Woodfour if you are interested in trying some unique sour and funky beers.