Dublin and its citizens are quite possibly the most famous in the world for enjoying a beer. It used to be a reputation we didn’t look too kindly upon as it would outshine our many other attributes: one of the very best capitals to enjoy ancient architecture, an unrivalled music scene and famously friendly residents. Visitors have, however, continued to put Dublin on their list of must-visit places for its literary history, and rightly so. But even the hollowed reputations of Joyce, Wilde, Yeats and others have their stories mired in a good old pint so we shouldn’t really complain.

The Dublin of today is as culturally rich as it has always been, only now there is plenty more on offer in the bars and pubs than just a pint of Guinness. While whiskies and stouts continue to thrive here, it is the explosion of craft beers that will undoubtedly be on the radar for those looking to whet their whistle during a stay in our Fair City. While the city itself may only have a handful of breweries, there are plenty of brewers from around the country offering their vast selections of beers for the capital’s consumption.

Dublin Beer Guide

Traditional Irish Bars:

The Stag’s Head

The Irish Bar has to be the most replicated of any around the world and you are sure to come across at least one in every large city and even in some of the more obscure smaller towns. But as any Irish person will tell you, these copy cats often fall short of the real thing in terms of authenticity. When you come to Dublin one of your first stops should be the Stag’s Head in the city centre. This Victorian pub features mahogany shelving, mosaic tiled floors, mirrors and chandeliers. The bar top is made from red Connemara marble and the stained glass windows cast a charming light over the pub both day and night.

McDaids

McDaids was the favoured watering hole of infamous poet, novelist and drinker Brendan Behan. Today his portrait adorns the wall keeping an eye on customers keen to enjoy a proper Dublin pint. You won’t find traditional music in every authentic Irish pub and McDaid’s is no exception. Conversation, and pints, are the order of the day here, the place buzzing with the hum of locals catching up on the weekend or weekday. Just pull up a stool and prepare to meet some Dublin characters.

O’Donoghue’s

Just a short stroll across Saint Stephen’s Green from the shopping strip of Grafton Street is perhaps one of the city’s more famous pubs where you’ll find a trad session happening seven nights a week. The Dubliner’s band formed here many moons ago over a couple of pints and the likes of Christy Moore, The Furey’s and Thin Lizzy’s Phil Lynott have all been known for an impromptu performance over the years. Nowadays you might be lucky to spot visiting rock royalty and international dignitaries joining in due to the pubs close proximity to both the Merrion Hotel and Leinster House, the seat of the Irish Parliament.

Kehoes

First licensed in 1803, Kehoes bar is not only one of the oldest in the city but also one of the busiest. Another Victorian bar with plenty of original features still in place, it’s definitely one of the more charming spots. Located off Grafton Street, things can get pretty busy in here. The downstairs has plenty of nooks and crannies where you can grab a table with friends for a quiet chat and choose from a fairly decent selection of Irish brewed beers. And if you happen to visit when the sun is shining, things always spill out on to the street where you can find one of the largest crowds vying for a sunny spot to enjoy a drink. No matter how busy the place gets you are always guaranteed a homely feel and warm welcome in this Dublin institution.

The Long Hall

The James Joyce Pub award is a bronze plaque awarded to ‘authentic’ Dublin pubs that embody the atmosphere of the Dublin described in his novel Ulysses. While some question the authenticity of the award itself, you can find one on the wall here at The Long Hall and I am sure Joyce would approve. With mirrored columns and a dark wooden interior, this bar backing on to Dublin Castle is without doubt one of the best in Dublin. With a long bar and some great window seats, The Long Hall is a great bar at any time of the day or night, but like most of the city’s traditional pubs you’re better off dropping in during the afternoon when you’re most likely to strike up the type of conservation with locals that wouldn’t look out of place on the pages of Joyce’s most puzzling masterpiece.

The Lord Edward

Situated in the shadow of the city’s Christchurch Cathedral, The Lord Edward is one of the Dublin’s more charming pubs. A quiet tavern a short walk from the hustle and bustle of Temple Bar, The Lord Edward is where Dubliners go for a quiet chat and a decent pint of Guinness. Slowly catching up with busier bars in terms of their beer selection, this is still one of the best premises if you appreciate a good pint. Oddly overlooked by the throng of tourists visiting the neighbouring cathedral and the nearby Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, this quiet and cosy bar is a top destination for locals looking for a good pint!

Beer Bars:

Camden Exchange

One of the newer bars on the Wexford and Camden strips, Camden Exchange is where you can find some of the best beers on offer in the city. First off, if you’re looking for an introduction to Dublin beers then this bar and 5 Lamps has to be ‘your only man’, as we say here. Still standing today, the 5 Lamps are a decorative lamppost standing at the junction of 5 streets on the north-side of the city, but in recent times the name is now associated with one of the city’s newest and best lagers. Smooth, distinctive and with a very real taste of Dublin, this beer can be found in most of the best bars in Dublin that take their beer seriously and Camden Exchange is one. Testament to that is their offering of over 40 different craft beers. Among them Dublin based brewers DOT Brew and Rascals are served here and are both delicious. This is a great place to get introduced to some of the city’s best ales and stouts. Along with a fantastic selection of international beers on tap and a great food menu, I would cancel the rest of your plans if you visit Camden Exchange and just make a night of it.

P. Mac’s

An atmospheric dive-bar on the city’s Lower Stephen Street, P. Mac’s is one of the best venues in Dublin for indulging in a pint, with over 30 taps lining the bar pouring out the best home-grown and international brews. The beers on offer from the lads at Kildare based Trouble Brewing are probably your best bets to start with. With IPAs such as The Fresh Prince of Kildare and Sabotage, these beers look almost as good as they taste. There are three snugs lining one side of the bar if you just fancy a quiet pint and a game on one of their Space Invader tables, or you can get the party started at one of the large dining tables in the main bar with some board games accompanied by an always excellent soundtrack. There is also an extensive bottled beer and food menu, which makes this Dublin boozer one of the best spots to while away a couple of hours.

Alfie Byrnes

Practically hidden away underneath Dublin’s Conrad Hotel, those who are not from around these parts could easily miss out on one of the city’s bars that’s seriously dedicated to the consumption of high quality beer. With a mix of a dozen standard and rotating taps, a beer connoisseur could happily spend a few hours in Alfie Byrne’s sampling brews from all over the country and beyond. Operated by The Galway Bay Brewery, this is one of the better spots to try out some of their offerings such as a pint of Full Sale or Of Foam and Fury. There are also a ping-pong and pool table, but to be honest if you’re serious about your beers, you’ll find it very hard to drag yourself away from the bar.

The Beer Market

The Beer Market is quickly establishing itself as one of the best spots for some serious beer drinking, and their sign out front featuring upcoming events says it all: Beer, beer, beer and then more beer. Some of the best Irish beers can be found here including those by Wicklow Wolf, Tipperary’s White Hag and Cork based 8 Degrees Brewing. The latter’s award-winning Sunburnt Irish Red Ale is described as having a slight taste of orange marmalade on toast if that’s your thing. If not then The Beer Market has enough on offer for all discerning taste buds.

57 The Headline

With 24 taps and a huge selection of canned and bottled beers, 57 The Headline, or simply The Headline to locals, has quickly established itself among the best of the bars in Dublin specialising in craft beer. Slightly more off-the-beaten-track than others in town. it’s still only a short walk from the city centre and well worth the effort. Metalman Brewing Co.’s Pale Ale from County Waterford is one of the best there is on the market today and can be sampled here on draft. And if Pale Ales are your thing make sure to sample Kinnegar Brewing’s Scraggy Bay all the way from Donegal as The Headline is only one of about a dozen bars in Dublin where you can do so.

Brew Pubs:

The Bridge 1859

This small neighbourhood bar is just a short trip from the city centre and worth the trek as it’s the only bar in Ireland where you can enjoy a pint of Pilsner Urquell direct from their tank system. Urquell’s own brewmaster insists that the tastiest pint of beer is found in the cellar of a brewery and that is exactly how this revolutionary system provides beer to the customers of The Bridge. The visible four large copper tanks contain unpasteurized beer meaning that it only has a shelf life of three weeks once a tank is opened. This guarantees that the pints here are as fresh and full of flavour as you can get. The fact that a tank rarely lasts as long as that further ensures that you can drink one of the tastiest, full-flavored pints in all of Dublin.

Porterhouse

Temple Bar is a tourist trap – fine for a quick stroll if it’s your first time visiting Dublin but best avoided if heading out on the town for a beer. But as with all tourist traps there is often an exception. The exception here being the Porterhouse. Opened in 1996 it was the city’s first brewery pub and to this day remains top of any serious beer drinkers list. One of their first brews was named Weiserbuddy, a thinly veiled suggestion that theirs was a far superior beer than a certain international product then dominating the drink scene. Today they are still cranking out the wise cracks and quality beers from their copper tank system that forms the centrepiece in their Parliament Street premises. There are three other locations in the city as well as outposts in Wicklow, London and New York.

The Open Gate

Though technically a stout, you can’t discuss beer drinking in Dublin without avoiding the world famous behemoth that is Guinness. As the craft beer scene firmly established itself in every major city, naturally they were going to want in on the action. Since the successful introduction of their Hop House 13 Lager, no doubt to the disregard of the guys in the Porterhouse, they have since been taking the craft beer brewing process more seriously. Situated in the iconic surrounds of their historic St. James’ Gate premises, The Open Gate is an experimental brewery that has been used by Guinness for over a hundred years and, as the name suggests, is now open to the public. As per their website, ‘some of these beers will end up on tap at your local pub or the far side of the world. Others will never leave these walls’. They are only open on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights and you must book a ticket online beforehand. Tickets cost €8 and include a tasting board of four beers currently being crafted before they make it, or not, out into the wider world. With so much thought and consideration, and money, going into each one, they are all usually surprisingly tasty for a company who found its fortune in the rather acquired world of stout. With an innovative way of experiencing unique beers in the Gotham-like, cavernous surrounds of this world famous brewery, The Open Gate must be seen and tasted to believe.


Kevin is a blogger for Spotted by Locals Dublin

Dublin Beer Guide:
Photos from Camden Exchange, P. Mac’s, Trouble Brewing, Beer Market, The Bridge 1859, Porterhouse, and Flickr: ANSELM PALLÀS and cyocum.


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