Beer, Bars and Breweries, in Dublin (Áth Cliath),
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When anyone mentions Irish Beer most immediately think of Guinness, a dark, dry, fairly hoppy beer; it is an example of the "Stout" style of beer. It is available throughout the world on draught, in bottles and in cans, but the most common form is on draught, when it is often served, especially in Ireland, in a ritualistic way, the glass being three quarters filled, allowed to settle and them topped up to produce its well-know creamy white head. Being pasteurised and filtered, it is not a beer that I bother with in England, as I generally drink unpasteurised and unfiltered Real Ale, which is plentiful. In Ireland, good Speciality Beer, of which Real Ale is one type, is not commonplace, so if one wishes to visit many of the country's famous pubs, then one may have to resort to drinking Guinness, and I have to say, that is somehow tastes better in Ireland than in England and elsewhere. Sadly, for many in Ireland, Guinness is a little too characterful and thus one sees much drinking of truly awful drinks, such as Bulmers Cider, Caffrey's Irish Ale and poor imitations of Pilsener-style beer: Lager. Guinness originated in Dublin; its St James's Gate Brewery is one of Dublin's most famous landmarks, and the Guinness Storehouse (www.guinness-storehouse.com), within the brewery, is the city's number one tourist attraction. The next few paragraphs cover some great, atmospheric pubs, all of which are outlets for well-served Guinness. Click here to go further down this page for information on three local breweries that have significantly raised the bar when it comes to producing top quality beers, including marvellous Stouts.
The following is a very selective list of some of the city's most famous traditional pubs, all of which are worth visiting: The Brazen Head, the city's oldest pub, at 20 Bridge Street, www.brazenhead.com; Davy Byrne's, 21 Duke Street, www.davybyrnes.com; Doheny & Nesbitt (www.dohenyandnesbitt.com), 5 Lower Baggot Street; John Kavanagh (The Gravediggers), Prospect Square, Glasnevin (GPS: 53.369553o N, 6.271985o W); The Long Hall, South Great George's Street; McDaid's, Harry Street; John Mulligan (Mulligans Pub), 8 Poolbeg Street, www.mulligans.ie; O'Donoghue's, Merrion Row, www.odonoghues.ie; The Old Stand, 37 Exchequer Street, www.theoldstandpub.com; The Stag's Head, Dame Court (corner Dame Lane); and Toner's Pub, 139 Lower Baggot Street (corner Roger's Lane). The Brazen Head, McDaid's, O'Donoghue's and The Stag's Head are all renowned for their live music. These pubs are all featured in Barrie Pepper's essential book on Irish Pubs, called, er, Irish Pubs (1998, Eric Dolby Publishing, ISBN: 1 85882 046 4). Most of these pubs feature in the Dublin Literary Pub Crawl, www.dublinpubcrawl.com.
Unless indicated otherwise, all beer prices quoted on this page are for a pint of draught/tap beer or a 33cl bottle. Where the strength of a beer is quoted, unless indicated otherwise, this is the ABV (Alcohol by Volume).
The above photos taken outside and in O'Donoghue's, were taken by John White, in July, 2006. In O'Donohue's, Guinness was €4.30 on my July, 2006 visit.
Very close to O'Donohue's, is Ireland 's only restaurant with more than one star in the 2006 Michelin Guide (www.viamichelin.com): the two-starred Patrick Guilbaud, at 21 Upper Merrion Street (tel 01 676 4192, www.restaurantpatrickguilbaud.ie). Prices can be stratospheric in such places, but there are two and three course lunch time menus available, which will not break the bank (at €33 and €45 respectively, in 2006), in this most elegant of places, which specialises in using seasonal Irish produce. Patrick Guilbaud is housed in a wonderful Georgian block, close to the National Gallery of Ireland (Gailearaí Náisiúnta na hÉireann) (Merrion Square West & Clare Street) (www.nationalgallery.ie), on the other side of the road; Patrick Guilbaud has its own impressive collection of 20th Century Irish art. Patrick Guilbaud is closed on Sundays and Mondays. The place's excellent website provides details of the food and wine on offer, with prices.
The above photos were taken by John White, in July, 2006. The one on the left features the exterior of Davy Byrne's. In the photo on the right, the 2005 statue, on Harry Street (off Grafton Street), of Thin Lizzy frontman, Phil Lynott (1949-86), has McDaid's in the background.
Opposite McDaid's, there is a bar/restaurant called Bruxelles, which is French for the Capital of Belgium: Brussels. Unfortunately, although it has some Belgian Beers, none will be of interested to Specialty Beer fans, most being brewed by that load of bankers, Inbev.
The above photos were respectively taken by John and Joyce White, in July, 2006. The one on the left is of the sign of Toner's, which, as you can see, is a pub. Alongside it is a typical Dublin Lamp Post. In the photo on the right, I have my Guinness in one hand and Joyce's glass of Sherry in the other. Barrie Pepper's Irish Pubs informs one that the great Irish Poet, William Butler Yeats (W B Yeats) (1865-1939), went into only one pub in Dublin - Toner's -, and ordered a Sherry, but very quickly left, as he was not impressed. Well I was very much taken by the place. Clearly, the handpumps behind me are no longer used. In Toner's, Guinness was €4.30 on my July, 2006 visit.
The above photos taken outside and in The Stag's Head, were taken by John White, in July, 2006. In The Stag's Head, Guinness was €4.10 on my July, 2006 visit. The Stag's Head is close to the Dublin Tourism Centre, on Suffolk Street, see below.
The above photos were taken by John White, in July, 2006. The one on the left features the exterior of Mulligan's of Poolbeg Street. In the photo on the right, the horse and trap is passing Doheny & Nesbitt. In Mulligan's, Guinness was €4.10 on my July, 2006 visit.
The above photo, which was taken by John White, in July, 2006, features the exterior of The Brazen Head. In The Brazen Head, Guinness was €4.20 on my July, 2006 visit.
The above photo of John Kavanagh's (Gravediggers), a truly world-class gem of a pub, was taken by John White, in July, 2006. Note the entrance to Glasnevin Cemetery on the left. However, it was locked, which explains the address given for the pub, on an old poster inside: "Former Cemetery Gate, Glasnevin". The photo on the right, of Joyce and John White, was taken inside the No. 1 bar of Kavanagh's, by regular, Liam Stewart.
We got to Kavanagh's on a number 13 Dublin Bus (Bus Átha Cliath) (www.dublinbus.ie) from O'Connell Street (it starts at Merrion Square, near the National Gallery). (Note that the 13A bus is not suitable.) After crossing the Royal Canal using Binn Bridge, on Lower Dorset Street, the 13 bus goes down Whitworth Road alongside railway lines in front of the canal. It then turns right, away from the canal, by the next bridge over it, Cross Guns Bridge. When the bus turns rightm Porterhouse North, see below, can be immediately seen on the right., so note its position should you be planning to pay it a visit later (which you should, see below). Get off at the next bus stop, which is named, and is on, Prospect Way. Carry up this a very short distance and turn left onto Prospect Avenue, this opening up into Prospect Square, which John Kavanagh's is on the other side of. Whilst in Kavanagh's Liam and his father said that if we liked Kavanagh's, we would also like a pub in the suburb of Raheny, called The Cedars Lounge (1 St Assam's Road East, tel 01 832 6602). This can be reached by a number 31 bus, getting off at the stop called "The Old Sheiling Hotel", which is on Howth Road (R105); St Assam's Road East goes North off this road. The 31 bus starts on Eden Quay, near O'Connell Bridge, on the North bank of the River Liffey. Raheny can also be reached from the city centre on the Northern Commuter Line or by using a DART (Dublin Area Rapid Transport) train. Information on these trains can be obtained from the Irish Rail (Iarnród Éireann) website, www.iarnrodeireann.ie. The Cedars will definitely be checked out on my next trip to Dublin.
The above photos were taken in July, 2006 by John White and Joyce White, respectively. The one on the left is of the exterior of Porterhouse North, see below. The photo on its right was taken close by. In it I am on the fourth lock on The Royal Canal; in the background is Mountjoy Prison.
After visiting Porterhouse North we made our way back to the city centre, by walking along the Royal Canal. The Royal Canal is the title of a song by Brendan Behan (1923-64), which has been covered by a number of artists, including a version by Bob Dylan that is available on bootleg records. Click here to listen to Bob's version, which was recorded in 1967; it is one of the many "Basement Tapes" recordings that have never been officially released; on the recording, the great guitarist, Robbie Robertson, gets his guitar to sound like a triangle, one of these being featured in the lyrics. Should you want to sing along, then click here for the original lyrics of The Royal Canal (also known as The Old Triangle (The Auld Triangle) ("it goes jingle jangle, all along the banks of the Royal Canal"). These lyrics are as they appear in Brendan's play, The Quare Fellow (1954). Brendan himself recorded the song later; it appears on "Brendan Behan Sings Irish Folksongs & Ballads", which I have as a 1997 CD, released by the Outlet Recording Company, in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Bob Dylan probably never saw the song written down before he recorded it, and thus makes the odd mistake, for example, he sings of "Water Boiling", rather than "Warder Bawling", although, unlike a number of other covers of the song, he correctly states that there are seventy women in the female prison:
On reaching the next road bridge over the Royal Canal, Binn Bridge, we got onto Lower Dorset Street, and walked to the nearest bus stop, where we got a bus back to the city centre. On the bus, a pub soon appears on the left called The Auld Triangle (28 Lower Dorset Street (on the corner of Gardiner Street), tel 01 836 3378), which I will check out on a future visit, hopefully with David Spencer, the former Chairman of Grimsby & NE Lincolnshire CAMRA, as it was he who introduced me to The Old Triangle; at the slightest provocation, he is apt to sing it, with a hand over one ear!
As already stated, in the marvellous surroundings of the pubs detailed above, Guinness is a reasonable drink, but it has to be said that there is significantly better, locally brewed Stout and other beers available in Dublin, i.e. the beers produced by: the Porterhouse Brewing Company (www.porterhousebrewco.com); Messrs Maguire; and the Dublin Brewing Company (www.dublinbrewing.com). Coverage of these follows, but note that the Dublin Brewing Company may have closed.
The above photos were taken by John White, in July, 2006. The one on the left features the exterior of the original Porterhouse (also badged "The Porter House") , in Temple Bar, and the one on the right features a 2005 addition to the chain, Porterhouse Central. The "Celebrate The Revolution" banner is for the 10th anniversary of the opening of the Temple bar one. Porterhouse Central is very close to Trinity College. When one gazes to the upper windows of the original Porterhouse, one can see a splendid copper brew house vessel. This was never used for brewing in the Porterhouse, although, brewing did take place in the Porterhouse, when it first opened in 1996.
The Porterhouse chain of pub/restaurants have their own beers on sale, along with a selection of Speciality Beers from around the world. In Dublin itself, there are two branches of Porterhouse in the city centre: the original, in Temple Bar (16-18 Parliament Street, tel 1 671 5715); and "Porterhouse Central", near Trinity College (University of Dublin) (www.tcd.ie) (home of The Book of Kells), at 45 Nassau Street (the former Judge Roy Bean's). There is also a branch in the suburb of Glasnevin, near Mountjoy Prison, on the Royal Canal, Porterhouse North (Cross Guns Bridge (corner of Whitworth Road and Prospect Road), tel 1 830 9884, GPS: 53.364795o N, 6.271565o W). There is also The Porterhouse Inn, which has accommodation (sixteen rooms), in Bray, on Dublin Bay (Strand Road, tel 1 286 0668). In England, in London's Covent Garden, there is also an excellent example of the chain, at 21-22 Maiden Lane, WC2 E7NA, tel 020 7379 7917; there was also an English one in Barnes, but it is no longer open. Unlike more well-known Stouts, the Porterhouse Brewing Company's range of this beer style are unpasteurised, and Genetically Modified (GM) materials are not used in their production. Initially, the brewery was in the Temple Bar branch, but was later relocated to the Rosemount Business Park, in Ballycoolin, Blanchardstown (Unit 6D, Rosemount Park Road, tel 01 822 7415), which is NW of the city centre, beyond the M50 ring motorway. Porterhouse also own a famous Dublin night club, Lillie's Bordello, Adam Court, Grafton Street (www.lilliesbordello.ie), which, of course, has their beers.
The Porterhouse Beers are normally only available on draught, but in 2006, to celebrate their tenth anniversary, they produced Celebration Stout (€6.50 (50cl), in July, 2006), which has an alcohol content by volume (ABV) of 10%. It is bottle-conditioned, i.e. there is yeast present in the bottle, making it a Real Ale in bottle. The bottle label has the legend "Bottled and Labelled by Hand. Drank by Mouth" and "100% Irish. 0% Chemicals". The above photo, which was taken by John White, in July, 2006, features the servery in the original Porterhouse. It is a little unusual in that from it the bar staff can serve people in the ground floor bar and the one on the first floor from where the photo was taken. note the 10th Anniversary menu on the upper servery, with the reproduction of the Celebration Stout label on the back.
All the Porterhouse beers that I have tried have been top-class. Typical Porterhouse draught beers available in the various Porterhouses are: Wrasslers 4X Stout (5%) a strong Stout, described by "The Beer Hunter", Michael Jackson (www.beerhunter.com), as "The best stout in Ireland for my money", which is based on a beer originally brewed by Deasy's of West Cork; Oyster Stout (4.8%), which is brewed with, er, Fresh Oysters; Plain Porter (4.3%); TSB (3.7%): Porterhouse Red (4.4%); An Brain Blásta (7%); Hersbrucker (5%), a Pilsener-style beer; Temple Bräu (4.3%), a "Lager", but miles away from the normal Fizz available in Dublin pubs; Chiller (4.2%), a North American-style Lager, made with American hops; and Haus Weiss (5%), a German-style White Beer (Wheat Beer). There are also seasonal beers. Most of these are filtered, but unpasteurised, apart from the Wheat Beer and the TSB (Turner's Sticklebract Bitter), A Real Ale is often available on handpump. It is hopped with Sticklebract hops from New Zealand. It was introduced in 2000, to celebrate the opening of the Porterhouse in Covent Garden, the Turner in its name being there because the artist, J M W Turner (1775-1851), was born on the site of the Covent Garden Porterhouse. Michael Jackson described Porterhouse Red as "makes Caffreys taste like Tizer". Tizer is a soft, carbonated drink that, for me tastes much better than the truly awful, undrinkable Caffrey's.
All non-Poterhouse beers available in the various Porterhouses are bottled. These come from Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, The Czech Republic, England, Germany, The Netherlands, Italy, Mexico, New Zealand, Poland, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, Sweden, Thailand, Turkey, The Ukraine, and the USA. These cost in the range €4.40 to €7 (July, 2006 prices). Belgian examples include:; Rochefort 10oat €7; and Boon Framboise and Kriek, both at €5.50 (37.5cl). From Australia, Cooper's Sparkling Ale is €5.50 (37.5cl). From Germany, Schneider Weisse is €5.50 (50cl).
The Dublin Brewing Company's brewery, at 141-146 North King Street (tel 01 872 5127), can be visited without an appointment. Of course, following brewery tours, the brewery's excellent range of beers can be sampled in the brewery's bar. Tours take place on the hour, between 2pm and 5pm each day. Two outlets for the Dublin Brewing Companies beers, close to the brewery are: The Dice Bar, a bar with a DJ and a New York theme, at 79 Queen Street (corner Benburb Street), tel 01 872 8622; and the Cobblestone, a renowned live music venue, at 77 North King Street tel 01 872 1799. Note that someone who tried to visit the Dublin Brewing Company's brewery and bar, in October, 2006, found them boarded up, with a "To Let" sign on display. Googling does not reveal whether they have been relocated. If anyone has any news ...
Whilst in this area, it is also worth visiting the very close by Old Jameson Distillery (Bow Street, tel 01 807 2355), where a range of Jameson Whiskey (www.jamesonwhiskey.com) can be sampled after the tour. The Distillery and "The Chimney, Smithfield Village" are stop 18 on a Hop on-Hop off "City Tour" bus, operated by Dublin Bus (Bus Átha Cliath) (www.dublinbus.ie); tickets are valid for twenty-five hours from the time of booking. The Chimney is a viewing tower within the Jameson Distillery. The Guinness Storehouse is stop 13. Tours start at Cathal Brugha Street, which is off the Northern end of O'Connell Street. Tickets can be obtained on the buses and at special ticket buses on the route, including one opposite the Dublin Bus office at 59 O'Connell Street, from where route maps can be obtained, along with timetables and route maps for normal buses.
The above photos were taken by John White, in July 2006, outside and in the Messrs Maguire Brew Pub, at 1-2 Burgh Quay, tel 01 670 5777. When walking down O'Connell Street, towards the O'Connell Bridge over the River Liffey, it can't be missed on the other (South) side of the river, although, the logo of a well known producer of Dutch Eurofizz on the high rise building above the bar that has been cropped from the right of the photo, can probably be picked out from outer space! In the photo on the right, Joyce's half of Rusty, and my pint of Weiss, the latter being a Wheat/White Beer in the Munich style, the bubble gum from the Weihenstephan yeast being very evident. These were both €4 a pint, in July, 2006. There are typically six beers available that are brewed on the premises: Plain (4.2%), a "plain" Irish Stout; Extra (5%), a "Double Stout"; Haus (4.3%), the place's somewhat weaker interpretation of a Pilsener; Yankee (4.2%), another beer in the Pilsener style, "made the American way"; Rusty (4.6%), their Irish Red Ale offering; and the already mentioned White Beer, Weiss (5%). Also available is the current Guinness Brewmaster brew, which was Toucan Brew on my July, 2006 visit.
Typical food includes (July, 2006 prices): Thai Fish Cake Salad at €9; Pesto and Vegetable Penne at €9.90; Sirloin Steak at €14/18 (8/10oz); Indian Chicken Curry at €11.90; and Battered Cod and Chips at €11.
The Dublin Tourism Centre is to be found in the former St Andrew's Church, on Suffolk Street, www.visitdublin.com.
Major tourist atrractions include: Saint Patrick's Cathedral, Saint Patrick's Close, www.stpatrickscathedral.ie; Christ Church Cathedral, Christchurch Place, www.cccdub.ie; and Dublinia (www.dublinia.ie), the city's Medieval and Viking Centre, which is housed in a marvellous building linked by an impressive bridge to Christ Church Cathedral.