Dublin is known throughout the world in particular for one of its excellent products, Guinness . But what if I told you that there were many more craft beers in Dublin ?
And what if Arianna, who has lived in Dublin since 2008, took you to discover these products with a ” pub tour ” to introduce tourists to Irish craft beers?
An unusual but realistic vision of the Irish capital to discover Dublin’s craft beers accompanied by an expert guide.
So let’s find out how to combine business with pleasure by visiting Dublin and tasting some of its best craft beers.
Craft beers in Dublin, an alternative tour of the city
Two years ago I wrote a post on this blog in which among the unusual things to do in Dublin I suggested tasting an Irish craft beer instead of drinking a Guinness.
At the time, pubs that didn’t serve Guinness were a no brainer and you could truly say that drinking craft beers was something “alternative”.
From 2013 to today the situation has completely changed. The number of craft breweries in Ireland has increased exponentially in recent years, the offer of beer at pubs is now very wide and pubs offering only craft beers have a loyal clientele so that many new ” craft beer bars ” have opened or I’m about to open.
While continuing to have a negligible share of the market, less than 2% , craft beers have grown and continue to grow, according to a trend that is occurring in other countries, including Italy, the home of wine.
If you are on holiday in Dublin don’t miss the opportunity to taste one of these beers, they are very tasty and what’s more your money will go to small local businesses rather than multinational giants. Three breweries own premises where they serve the beers they produce and these are a good starting point for exploring the world of Irish craft beers.
Porterhouse is one of the pioneers of the craft beer revolution in Ireland as well as one of the longest-running craft breweries.
It was so successful that it opened a huge venue in London’s Covent Garden and one in New York. There are two clubs in the center of Dublin: my favorite is the Central on Nassau St , while the one in Temple Bar is very popular among Italians and Spaniards .
Then there is the Porterhouse North in the Croke Park area and one in Bray with outdoor benches, excellent for enjoying a pleasant break after a walk along the sea!
Galway Bay Brewery , a brewery which, as you can imagine, is based in Galway, certainly owes its success to the quality of the beers it produces but also to the “brewery + premises” formula: it currently has six in Dublin and three in Galway. My favorites in the capital are the Brew Dock opposite the bus station and the Black Sheep on Capel st.
JW Sweetman is currently the only brew pub in Dublin, meaning their branded beers are produced in the same building where the pub is located: you can really talk about house beers! It’s a beautiful pub, in a historic building, with an incredible view over O’Connell st and the staff have a real passion for craft beers. If you go there say hello to David, a very nice bartender in love with his work.
A little hidden gem is Probus Wine & Spiritis on Fenian street, a lovely venue with seating for up to 20 people. The owner is a wine enthusiast, but also knows his stuff when it comes to craft beers and is always available to give advice. The perfect place for an unhurried snack or to read a book while enjoying a good beer!
An Off the Beaten Track itinerary between churches and craft beers
The unusual itinerary that I propose will take you to visit the two most famous churches in Dublin, allowing you to stop in some of the best “craft beer bars” in the Irish capital before and after each church.
The church-beer combination may seem bizarre, but in reality it is a constant in the history of brewery production: for many years it was the monks who handed down the secrets of the oldest fermented drink in the world. Even today, abbey beers , both those brewed in monasteries and ” abbey style ” beers produced by independent breweries, are very popular.
While taking you to visit two of the most famous tourist attractions in Dublin, this itinerary begins and ends in areas off the beaten track by tourists.
The walking distance between the starting point and the ending point of the itinerary according to Google Maps is approximately three kilometers: at a slow pace it should not take more than an hour. Counting the stops at the pub and the visits to the churches, however, a whole afternoon is needed to follow the entire itinerary.
You have to pay attention to the closing times of the churches: St Patrick’s Cathedral generally closes at 5pm, but the park stays open longer; Christ Church remains open until 7pm in the summer months. Check the timetables on the official websites, they are all linked in this post.
In order to be able to follow the itinerary as I propose it, you must start it strictly at 3pm, the opening time of the first pub. If you want to have more time available to make longer stops in pubs, one of the pubs owned by the Galway Bay brewery : I find it a little “colder” in atmosphere, but it is however an excellent pub, one of the first in the city to have a wide range of international craft beers, and has the advantage of opening at 12. They also serve food so if you want you can start here with beer and a snack. It is located in Wexford st, a central area about 10 minutes walk from St Patrick’s Cathedral.
Artisan beers itinerary
57 The Headline – St. Patrick’s Cathedral – Bull and Castle – Christ Church Cathedral – L. Mulligan Grocer
57 The Headline
Our itinerary begins with a pint at 57 The Headline pub on the corner of South Circular Road and Clanbrassil st. Let’s start well: you can choose from 26 beers on tap, mostly Irish craft beers, which include regulars, seasonal beers and rotating beers. If you’re undecided – with all the goodness, oops I meant beers, it’s difficult to choose just one! – ask the expert and very kind staff for advice. The venue has elegant decor but maintains the warm atmosphere of a pub. Perfect for chatting with old friends, reading a book or, as you are doing, starting your day as a tourist in complete relaxation!
St. Patrick’s Cathedral
Once you’ve finished your pint, don’t wait. There will be time for long stops! Once out of the restaurant, turn left and continue straight for about 10-15 minutes along an unfortunately very busy road until on the opposite side you will find the second stop on this itinerary: St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
Even today, despite the fact that I have to pass through here at least three times a week for work and personal reasons, I am left speechless every time when the sight of this imposing church and its small, well-kept park, an urban oasis of greenery, appears before me. and red and yellow flowers. In my opinion, the interior is disappointing compared to the breathtaking beauty of the exterior and the ticket costs six euros. To spend it or not? I’ll leave that up to you to decide.
If you want to add an extra touch of culture to your itinerary, nearby you will find one of my favorite places in Dublin: the Marsh Library , the oldest library in the city .
Much smaller than the much more famous Trinity College library, the Marsh Library has the advantage of costing less and allowing you to avoid long queues for entry. In my opinion it is also much more suggestive.
Bull and Castle (The Butcher’s Bar)
Take the road you came from, but stay on the side of the church. Continue straight until a large intersection of four streets and turn right. You will see the Jurys Inn Hotel on your side of the road .
When the pavement ends and you have to cross the small road in front of you, you will find a restaurant-pub hidden behind a Dublin Bikes station.
It is the third stage of this itinerary.
Go upstairs to reach the Butcher’s Bar , which everyone (including me) mistakenly calls Bull and Castle (which is actually the name of the restaurant downstairs). The owners of the restaurant and bar are the same, they also own a famous butcher’s shop in the city. We are not here for the meat: we came here to feed ourselves with liquid bread, and we will find bread for our teeth!
The Bull and Castle was one of the first pubs in the city to offer a wide range of craft, Irish and international beers, but I also recommend it for another reason: the honest prices. Watch out for current offers! Here I tasted O’Hara’s for the first time, the beer that officially opened the doors to the world of Irish craft beer for me. I later discovered that it is produced by one of the longest-running Irish microbreweries, and I know that it can also be found in Italy.
Those who want to continue all they have to do is cross the road, that is, arrive on the opposite side to the one you came from. In fact, opposite the Jurys Inn hotel is Christ Church Cathedral .
This cathedral stuck in the middle of traffic in an area that in the past was within the medieval walls of the city manages to maintain a dignified beauty despite its unfortunate (current) position. Like the church we visited previously, this one also lends itself to ecstatic contemplation from the outside.
Take a look inside too because this time the opinions of all the people I know are unanimous, that the cathedral is worth a visit. Give us as much time as you want because from here on you only have one last stop left and we’re talking about a pub open until eleven in the evening.
Once out of here, the longest stretch of your walk awaits you, but the destination that awaits you will reward you for your efforts.
You have several options to reach the final stage. The simplest: leaving Christ Church, take a street with the auspicious name of Winetavern st , reach the River Liffey and cross the bridge. Turn left and walk along the river until Ellis Quay crosses a street on the right called BlackHall Place (which will then become Stoneybatter). There’s a Spar on the corner of the street, if that helps you recognize it. Turn there and continue straight to your destination! You will find the pub on the right hand side of the road.
On the way to the last, long and well-deserved pub stop you can leave the river and make a detour to the Four Courts area to take a look at St Michan’s church from the outside. It is located in Church st, Dublin 7, and stands out for its imposing tower. If you don’t want to follow the complete itinerary, I strongly advise you to organize it in such a way as to be able to visit the crypt of this church, unfortunately open with limited hours: you will have the rare opportunity to see (real) mummies outside of a museum Egyptian!
L. Mulligans Grocer
If I had to recommend just one pub in Dublin where you can enjoy craft beers I would have no doubt: the L. Mullingan Grocer in the Stoneybatter area . Precisely because I like it so much I chose it as the final destination of this tour: having reached the end of the itinerary you can stay here as long as you like. I’m sure that after the first pint you will want to stay for a long time!
The pub also has a reputation as an excellent restaurant, another reason why I chose it as the conclusion of the itinerary.
Unfortunately, I cannot personally confirm this, having never dined here, but the stellar reviews (in the sense of four/five stars!) that this pub can boast on its Facebook page, TripAdvisor and various venue review sites should convince you that it is deserved fame.
If that wasn’t enough, I’ll add that New York Times journalist Rosie Schaap called it “a dream of a gastropub”. Why do I like it so much? Because in a unique way this pub combines the quality of the craft beers that are served with the welcoming atmosphere of a typical traditional Irish pub.
Which beers to taste during the itinerary
The ones below are just two tasting proposals, but remember that you are on holiday: don’t give yourself rules, indulge the desire of the moment.
Blonde – Red – Dark
The first tasting itinerary proposes the classic blonde-red-dark triad. Let’s go by alcohol content, more understood as taste than as alcohol content.
A refreshing wheat beer, pilsner or golden ale is perfect to start your day. While not typical beer styles of Ireland and England, these beers have become very popular for their freshness.
If you have been to England you have surely drunk an Ale and even in Ireland there is a renewed interest in these beers. Until a few years ago the only Irish red known outside Ireland was Smithwicks (and someone perhaps knew Kilkenny), but now in every pub you can find a pale ale , red ale or Indian Pale Ale (IPA) produced by a craft brewery. Red ale in particular is considered a typically Irish style of beer, so much so that in America and now here too it is called Irish Red Ale.
At the third and final stage you can treat yourself to a beer with a strong and persistent taste. The time has come for a full-bodied dark beer: the stout. So good that you could even choose to make it the dominant theme of your tasting journey.
Since you’re on holiday in Ireland, and you’ve probably already had a Guinness or two (or more?), I strongly recommend you try other beers of the same style. Stout, dark beer, is not very common in Italy and is instead a typical Irish style. Here you will have the opportunity to taste excellent examples. You can then have fun arguing with your friends about which is the best “dark” in Ireland! So order a different stout in each pub you visit during your itinerary.