Date visited: February 2018
I got a very special surprise present last Christmas, a trip to the Irish capital of Dublin! Many thanks to my girlfriend for sorting out such a lovely gift. I've wanted to go to Dublin for a while now, technically I have been to the city before but only for an airport transfer and don't think a trip through US customs is worthy of a blog post. We visited the city in February and in a whirlwind Friday-Sunday trip we managed to see a few of the delights of the city. I also managed to drink some very good beer. Here's a little write-up of a craic-ing good time:
Dublin is only a short flight away from London and it's a place well worth checking out. As this was a short trip we didn't pack out our itinerary but I knew I wanted to check out two things:
Some historical sights
Funnily enough, there's one very famous tourist attraction that caters for both of these things and is synonymous with Ireland...
Guinness. Yeah, you probably guessed it but a trip to the famous Guinness Storehouse was an absolute no brainer for a beer and travel champion. After a bit of trekking we made it to this historic brewing site and mecca for stout lovers. It's a bit of a walk to the entrance of the Guinness Storehouse and with the sun gleaming off the cobblestones, there was a hint of something magical around the corner. The Guinness facility is impressive, the Storehouse is more of an interactive museum than a working brewing compared to many breweries that you might visit but I must say that it has been very well designed. The impressive displays give you all the historic details behind Arthur Guinness and the Guinness family, an immersive display into the brewing process and the ingredients used and also the history of Guinness and it's marketing over the years.
The Storehouse has a bit of a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory feel to it, thankfully I didn't fall into and drown in a vat of Guinness. You have the opportunity to do some beer tasting as part of the experience but we skipped this as we had basically tried everything on offer already e.g Hop House 13 - a massive no thank you. You can also learn to pour the perfect pint of Guinness, again we skipped this as the queues were too big. Instead we went up to the Gravity Bar at the top of the facility which offers 360 degree views of Dublin to cash in our 'golden ticket'.... a free pint of Guinness! Some say that the dark stuff tastes better in Ireland but I'm not so sure as it seemed to taste the same as every other pint I've had. It was certainly more satisfying drinking it in it's home city and surveying the views from the bar. Unfortunately, the bar is very popular and it's a bit of a push to get to the windows to get a decent view. It could definitely do with being expanded.
After doing the Storehouse we were pretty exhausted from a lot of walking so sought further refreshment nearby. From across the street I was very pleased to spot the Beer Market! This was just what I was after, a decent craft beer bar. Beer Market is owned by Galway Brewery so not surprisingly a lot of their beers were available. I was chuffed though as this was my first time trying any of their beers. First up, I went for Goodbye Blue Monday, a really nice American IPA, a collaboaration with Galway and Begyle Brewing from Chicago. With plenty of hops and oats it had a smooth, moreish taste. I also had a great sour, Tartín by Galway, sharp and fresh. I loved Beer Market and we spent a good chunk of the afternoon drinking some quality beers, playing chess, and eating nachos. This is exactly how I had pictured a pub in Dublin. (Well, maybe not the nachos.)
After leaving the Beer Market we fancied more drinks and a change of scene to something more traditional. We stumbled across the Porterhouse, an impressive looking brew-pub. The inside of this place was fantastic, split over multiple levels, a bar with seemingly never ending taps and walls adorned with all sorts of ephemera. Although there's now a few Porterhouse pubs around the country, including one in London, this was my first time stepping foot in one and I had a great time. With the range of beers on offer, I decided I had to go for a couple of flights to get in as many as possible. I managed to sample quite a few, including some decent porters and stouts, as we ended up spending most of the evening in the Porterhouse. I won't name them all here but check out my Untappd profile if you want to see what I had. My favourites were Wrasslers XXXX, a sweet stout, and the classic nitro-kegged Plain Porter. We left Porterhouse late to stumble around the streets of Dublin in search of food and enjoyed taking in the ambience of the vibrant city on our way home. As a side note, if you are looking to buy any late night beers from a shop on your way home, you won't be able to. Shops in Ireland stop selling alcohol at 10pm so stay in the pub instead...
I had a fantastic time pottering around Dublin, taking in the history and trying some of the beers and pubs along the way. Dublin has a rich history of brewing and it's great to see the contrast between traditional Irish pubs and newer craft beer venues. I don't think I even scratched the surface of this brilliant city and being only a short flight away from London I definitely plan on returning. Next time I plan on venturing out a bit further into Ireland and a visit to Galway Bay Brewery will definitely be on the itinerary. Dublin is a highly recommended destination for both craft beer enthusiasts and CAMRA folk.