With Guinness Storehouse being the top tourist attraction in all of Ireland, attracting more than 1 million visitors every year, it’s perhaps no wonder that the craft beer trend was a little slow to get going here. But eventually it did, and the capital is now packed full of atmospheric pubs serving the finest independently brewed ales, stouts, and porters in Ireland. So there’s plenty for the keen microbrewery supporter to explore.
The Porterhouse Brewing Company
Any story about independent Irish beer must start with The Porterhouse Brewing Company. Long before the current craft beer craze hit mainstream awareness, Liam LaHart and Oliver Hughes set out to challenge the global drinks companies that were dominating the market and opened the very first Porterhouse in Bray. Seven years later, in 1996, the Porterhouse in Temple Bar became their second brainchild and Ireland’s first brewpub. You decide you’d like to honour these independent brewing pioneers with a pint of Plain Porter in its buzzy Temple Bar home. Inside you find brass pipes running through the entire building, exposed brick walls, and a maze of stairs, floors, and snugs. You ask for a pint of Plain and smell the roasted malts and ground coffee. It looks a lot like a pint of Guinness, but with an even thicker, creamier head and a taste that perfectly marries subtle hints of chocolate, toffee, and coffee.
Against the Grain
Once you’ve paid tribute to the heroes of the recent past, you decide to pay a visit the Galway Bay Brewery. This incredible brewery has 10 pubs in Ireland, seven of which are in Dublin. They have a portfolio of five permanent brews and a pilot series of new and experimental beers. You head for Against The Grain in trendy Wexford Street, where you are greeted by plain wooden floors, rustic tables, and tiny stools. The bar is so overwhelmingly well-stocked that you’ll need some time to take it all in. The Of Foam And Fury Double IPA, 2014 winner of Beoir Beer of the Year, is a great place to start. Your first sip is tropical, fruity, and incredibly hoppy. You make a note to take this one slowly to really savour it.
The Bull & Castle
Next, you want to check out The Bull & Castle and embark on a search for your favourite Irish craft beer with a tasting tray. As you walk through the doors you hesitate. The black leather stools, industrial chic aluminium lamps, and black tiles behind the bar seem slightly out of place, as you were expecting more of a beer-hall vibe. At the bar you’re quick to realise the staff know their craft beer. You ask about the Howling Gale Ale from Eight Degrees Brewing and they start waxing lyrical about notes of grapefruit and how well it goes with their chicken wings. You watch in awe as the barman prepares your tasting tray—he’s clearly done this before. He lines up the carefully poured brews on a long, chunky block of wood and you see him treat the craft beer with as much respect as their famous steaks, which are also served on wooden blocks. You work your way through the ales on your tasting tray and enjoy the different textures and flavours. You’ve found your favourite: Trouble Brewing‘s Dark Arts Porter. You’re finally convinced that the best-kept secret at this gastro pub is not in the kitchen, but artisans working behind the bar.