Is there any decent beer in Ireland?

Is there any decent beer in Ireland?

I recently attended the Morrison Festival in Riverstown Co Sligo. The music was very impressive but the selection of beers at the bars less so. If you don’t go for Guiness, spirits or stouts what are the options? Smithwicks (a rather uninspiring form of bitter) or one of a multitude of international ales that you could probably buy in Mexico City. Where is the authentic Irish brew? At the sessions I go to in England the is a huge variety of ‘real ales’ which always hit the mark. The Irish music may be the best but the pubs leave a lot to be desired. There must surely be a business opening for some enterprising Irish man (or woman). Long live micro breweries ( and Irish music).
nednog

Re: Is there any decent beer in Ireland?

Guinness is the best thing about traditional Irish music in Ireland - the more of a session pub you’re in - the better the Guinness! Covnversely in my future resident country in the USA, the Guinness will never be as good even if the session is - some think this is a myth.
Smithwicks is very popular among Irish pub goers too as well as Bulmers or Bulmers Pear. Then there’s Heineken Carlsberg Budweiser and in many pubs in Dublin Erdinger and Paulaner in bottle and sometimes draft.
Micro brewery wise, Dublin has the Porterhouse and Messr Maguires which brew their own beer and, in the case of the Porterhouse, also offer an extensive selection of world beers.
But any die hard trad pub in Ireland specialises in Guinness Guinness and more Guinness. And the great thing is that 14 pints of Guinness in a day at the Fleadh actually helps to provide some form of nutrition (food) without having to leave a session or pay to get it!

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I love Irish beer. Kilkenny’s Irish Red, a cream ale, was awesome over there. It’s one of my favorite ales. You can hit up Murphey’s country, they have a good selection as well. There are tons of great beers in Ireland that are Irish or English.

But I do understand. I went to a bartender once and told him to give his best lager. He handed me a Bud light lol. I told him to bring me the next best one, and he handed me a Heineken. I just had to ask for a Harp after that, which is my favorite lager. Carlsberg is great too, but I think that’s Danish.

I am spoiled when it comes to beers. I live in the best brewery city in America, but I thought Ireland had a great set of beers. Some pubs just don’t carry a good selection though, they just carry a popular one.

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So how’s life in Stumptown these days, anyway? 🙂


>Covnversely in my future resident country in the USA, the
>Guinness will never be as good even if the session is -
>some think this is a myth.

No myth. It’s Canadian. Fortunately, there’s good stout available all over the states. If you’re in the Northwest, try Deschutes Brewery’s Obsidian Stout. Their Black Butte Porter is a little sweet for my taste, but many folks seem to like it.

Re: Is there any decent beer in Ireland?

Yep, for a country that consumes so much beer, good beer is amazingly hard to come by here compared to in England or Scotland. There are a very few pubs in Dublin that serve decent beers, the aforementioned Porterhouse being one of them. The Bull and Castle in Christchurch serves good stuff too, as do one or two of the spots around Camden/Aungier St. Outside of Dublin you’re pretty much out of luck! If you can find it, there are a few different drinks that go under the name ‘O’Hara’s’. If you like real ale, the one with the green label is very nice indeed.

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No.

Except for the Porterhouse in Dublin, as mentioned above.

Pat, remember my cooler FULL of real ale at Willie Week when we stayed in that caravan?

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Hilden brewery outside Lisburn is independent and makes a good pint of real bitter.

Smithwicks and the Bass here are jut gassy, awful pints.

Lager is lager, so that leaves Guinness.

English beer alas has no rivals anywhere.

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TSS, I have vague memories of your cooler full of ale 😀 I think I helped to put quite a dent in it! And I’ll never forgive you for introducing me to whiskey - I eventually acquired quite a taste for it 😀

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Yeah, those memories are probably vague for a reason! 🙂 I had a couple bottles of single malt with me as well. That whole week was vague.

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Here, in Boston, the best beer you can drink (IMHO) is Sam Adams, hands down. The Guiness we get from the liquor store is made in Canada. An earlier post referred to Budweiser…but that’s lawnmowing beer. I’m glad the laws changed to allow for all the craft beers.

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I love the people at Sam Adams - I did some work for them over the last few years, on and off, and I can honestly say that I’ve seldom come across an enterprise so thoroughly composed of good and decent people, from top to bottom - but I can’t say that they make the best beer available in Boston. Good, but not that good. Smuttynose IPA is my go-to sipping beer - for the best local beer, that one gets my vote. I haven’t settled on a local stout or porter, but that’s because there are so many to choose from - I don’t think Sam even pours a porter except as a seasonal.
If you want the best of Sam, try some of the the limited-edition stuff they make. I had a wonderful kriek from them last year, and they do often go with the Belgian styles for their specials, but you never know what they’re going to have around. It’s not cheap, but it’s generally quite good.

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Yes there is decent beer.

The question the OP is asking seems to be "is there any decent English style beer in Ireland?". Should there be? Perhaps, but you might find it difficult to find the same in Bavaria too. It doesn’t mean that the beer isn’t decent.

Anyway, you’ll find some decent ales are produced here:

http://www.franciscanwellbrewery.com/

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No. The beer on sale in Irish pubs is the worst in Europe.

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I often prefer the Murphy’s or Beamish myself. A flute player I know always gets the large bottles of Guinness off the shelf. None of that super cooled, tasteless stuff.

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Pity the microbrews Weejie linked to are not readily available in your average pub. That’s what people (well, me) are complaining about — the stranglehold monopoly Guinness have on the brewing market that usually makes them the only game in town.

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Aye, a lot of Scottish pubs are sh*te but there are plenty of good ones as well. I don’t know the East Coast, mind you, but I can tell you where you can find good beer between Glasgow and Dundonnell. 🙂

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No one has mentioned Galway Hooker, which can be really nice for a change from all the stout. Not easily found, even in Galway, but they do have it at both the Cobblestone and the Palace in Dublin, coincidentally decent spots for sessions, too.

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Interesting views.

re: Ireland having the worst selection of beers, I haven’t visited a pub anywhere in the world with a lesser selection except for those one tap bars at baseball games etc.

re: alternatives to Guinness at sessions, MGD, Smithwicks, O Hara’s and Bulmers are I think the only beers I’ve been asked to get other musicians at a session I had been running for a while - the only other I can even think of is Erdinger Non Alcoholic, my favourite drink if I’m driving

re: Guinness in the States, my experience is limited to Northern Virginia / southern Maryland sessions primarily with a stray few appearances in CA and NY thrown in, in upstate NY I’ll be sticking to microbreweries though.

Galway Hooker - funny I once asked for a recommendation at the Porterhouse, got that and just didn’t like it at all! Now a Purple People Eater or Brain Blasta, now we’re talking!!!!

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I forgot to add that at Willie Clancy or the Fleadh or any other sessions in Ireland, I’m usually much less interested in the vareity available if the Guinness is free, as is often is when you play at a real trad bar!

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I had some nice Irish cider this summer - in England.

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The site I linked to above (http://www.beoir.org/) has a pretty comprehensive list of Irish breweries, brewpubs and pubs/bars/restaurants which serve beers not produced by the conglomerates. Hitting the search button there and entering a particular county brings up the choices available in that locale.

Unfortunately, most of the brews are not cask-conditioned, but one brewery of such beers which should definitely be recommended is Whitewater, from Kilkeel in Co. Down - http://www.whitewaterbrewery.com/. Their Belfast Ale and other products are available in a number of the Belfast’s session pubs, including the John Hewitt and the Duke of York.

If you’re looking for British cask-conditioned ales then the North’s the best bet if you can tolerate Wetherspoon’s mega-pubs.

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I agree, the beer in the emerald isle is a disgrace :( Well, not really but it is lacking.

On the other hand I did develop a taste for Big Bottles (as opposed to wee bottles) of Harp Lager, served ice cold from the bar fridge. I remember Harp being not very good in my youth but the reel irish pure drop Harp was (is?) really quite tasty in my lager drinking opinion…..

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trwtf is that somehow lagers have got a reputation as a crap beer. Proper lagers can be beautiful beer - well-made pilseners, particularly, can be just the thing for a long blather on a hot day.
It’s macrobrews you want to stay away from, not ales or lagers particularly.

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I used to be a CAMRA fan when I were a lad in the 70’s in London. We would go all over England & Wales to delight in real ale rarities such as a pint of Scrotum’s Old Ridiculous or Wackowski’s India Pale Ale or wotteffah when all around was fizzy keg :Watney’s Red Barrel, Ind Coope and of course Titbread W ankard. However, as time went on the breweries realized they were on to a good thing and re-introduced ‘real ale’. Over the next twenty years the quality dipped and I ended up drinking Wife Beater (aka Stella) because it was at least reliable- I’m a changed man now and drink ‘weak’ lagers such as Carlsberg, Heiniken and, may the gods and goddesses forgive me, Fosters.
When in Ireland I stick to lagers. Harp is not to be found in London (just about the only global commoditiy you can’t get here! Khat anyone?!) and makes me feel quite exotic when drinking it somewhere on the left hand side of the British Isles as you look at the map.
When I’m in the American NW, I enjoy Bud and Coors and avoid all that microbrewery stuff! Some of the worse beer I’ve ever tasted was from ‘micro-breweries’ in the Seattle/ Oregon area. Dreadful overworked stuff.
Does anyone remember CAMROT? The campaign for real outside toilets.

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Jon,

Tvrwtf is that lagers produced in Ireland and the UK for most of the last fifty years, with the exception of some made by local breweries, were exactly that - ‘crap beer’ - designed for people who wanted to get p*ssed, but didn’t like the taste of a solid cask-conditioned ale. That the gnat’s wazz produced by Carling had the ad tag ‘probably the best beer in the world’ (initially and sonorously proclaimed in TV ads by Orson Welles) had a lot to do with the process.

One only has to taste the difference between a glass of Stella Artois in a bar in Belgium and one in a pub in Luton to appreciate that some brews just don’t travel when the megacorps get into gear.

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Mac, I believe it, every word. They have this stuff here called "Budweiser", you may have heard of it, I think the story is a similar one. Only here, the makers of the crap beer manged to arrange things so the stuff they originally copied can’t be called by its proper name any more.

I’m just railing against the state of the world where you say "chocolate" and people think you mean that stuff that Hershey’s makes, or you say "tomato" and people think you’re talking about the pinkish baseball you can buy at the supermarket, or you say "lager" and people think you mean cheap beer-substitute.

Okay, rant concluded. There’s real beer and tunes in five hours, I can make it. 🙂

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Time to roll out the Mark Twain quote: “An Irishman is lined with copper, and the beer corrodes it. But whiskey polishes the copper and is the saving of him."

Why strap on beer and stout goggles when you’ve got great whiskeys and a crisp cider like Bulmers around? (And this ain’t some plug—I would not recommend touching the same producer’s Magners cider, the stuff they sell outside Ireland.)

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Yep,

Thanks to Anheuser-Busch’s legal actions, the wonderful Budweiser Budvar has to be called Czechvar in North America.

Some while ago we spent a couple of months in the US, partly passed in Washington DC and Florida (my partner insisted on a week on a beach), but mainly driving from Frisco to Denver. We were camping out in forest parks and buying cases of Miller’s, Coor’s, Sclitz and other brews. All were as weak as as an episode of ‘Terry and June’ and made me wonder why the fame of Milwaukee might make a loser out of anyone.

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imo ,bulmers is too sweet as is magners. there are a couple of good micro brewers in Ireland, the monks brew a wondeRful beer in Cork city from the Fransican brewery.
It is sometime since I visited Ireland, so hopefully it is still going

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"Why is American beer like making love in a canoe?" 🙂

The real topper on the Budweiser story is the analogy a friend of mine made. He pointed out that it was as if some Canadian started a software company called "Microsoft" and sued Bill Gates’ operation for IP violations - and won.

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Budvar Mmmmm. Now your making me thirsty. Not the river Bud water (var) but the wonderful stuff they turn it into.

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MacCruiskeen, it makes me weep to think that you probably passed by some of the finest brewpubs in the west, and were reduced to drinking nasty, nasty stuff like Schlitz.

Even the 3.2 stuff in Utah is tasty if it comes from Wasatch (Polygamy Porter!! "Why have just one?") or Uinta.

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Michele,

Tears appreciated. The only thing a can of Schlitz was good for was throwing the empty at a raccoon attempting to steal our dinner.

The Franciscan Well brewery certainly serves some fine brews if they have such an impact on Mr. Jelinek’s literacy skills.

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Re: Is there any decent beer in Ireland?

enDede.

Re: Is there any decent beer in Ireland?

I miss the microbreweries of the US West Coast when I go to Europe (anywhere, including Ireland) Sierra Nevada, Bridgeport, Full Sail etc. I used to drink Smithwick’s, now it’s a huge disappointment.

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Yeah, the microbrewery craze hit Colorado big time. Colorado is roughly 3 times the size of Ireland, and there are about 90 microbreweries to be found here (as well as the largest single brewery in the world, not that I drink any of their so-called beer). We have an absolute glut of really good beer available. The "largest liquor store in the world", according to the Guinness Book, is just a few miles from my house. Their beer cooler is about 180 feet long, and full of variety. We have restaurants that serve over 100 different beers on draught, and amazing food to go with it.

However, I am perfectly happy drinking Guinness when I’m in Ireland, and always keep track of the best pint on each trip. (Most recently, it was at a pub - that I can’t remember the name of - in Lisdoonvarna).

OK, so maybe the quality of the music has something to do with it, too…

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Ahhh, long live Google Maps, and Street View. The best pint was in MacNamara’s/Irish Arms in Lisdoonvarna 🙂

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Presumably Irish supermarkets stock those very companionably priced and very decent (IMO) Polish lagers that Tesco etc. have in the UK. The odd Czech one fits the bill, too. They have names like bad hands at Scrabble but Tyskie is a Polish one I’ve drunk. Damn sight better than those Belgian ones like sugary afterbirth brewed by monks.

They are excellent extra-pub refreshment (IMO) and I am sure they could be discreetly consumed in the smokers’ yard or inside a greatcoat or somewhere on licenced premises.

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I used to find an ale called McCaffrey’s in the USA, which I think came from Ireland, but because of distribution problems (or so I was told) it is not available around here any more—a pity as I very much liked it.

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Loved Rainier Ale, or as we called it, "Green Death." But that was a relatively local product. This tourist liked Cork City’s very own Murphy’s Stout. What’s more, I liked the militant alligience so many of the locals felt for it. I regret not feeling the same way about my local brewery.

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When in the RoI I found Murphys much more suitable for all-day irrigation than the equivalent amount of Guinness, which would have had me under the table far too soon.

I suspect living on huge quantities of Irish Guinness is one of those skills only prolonged evolution in isolated circumstances provides, like the Eskimos living on blubber with no veg and stuff like that.

It may be, however, that this will be strongly contested by people not generated in the RoI who can drink bathloads of the stuff at a time and think I am a wuss.

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Is the "largest liquor store" Liquor Mart in Boulder?

I miss all the CO microbrews but I can’t really complain as the UK is full of nice beers. Scotland has some fantastic ones, but wow, those ones you find in pubs in the Lake District….

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No, Emily, it’s Daveco Liquors in Thornton. Heard recently that the owner was arrested for some fraud of some sort, and suddenly their website is gone. I’ll have to wander by there and see if it’s still open! (And it’s a bit of a sham, being the "biggest"… I can think of a couple stores in the area that are almost that big, and about 1/4 of the square footage of their store was just big stacks of warm, cheap beer…)

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"The Franciscan Well brewery certainly serves some fine brews if they have such an impact on Mr. Jelinek’s literacy skills."

It should be Mr Jelinek, clearly a case of the pot calling the kettle black.

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Mr/Mr. is equally acceptable. Get back to your chai!

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Get back to your Watneys Red.

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Guinness is OK, but keep in mind that it is corporate beer, owned by Diageo, a major conglomerate. I drink Guinness at pubs when I play tunes, but the only Guinness I buy at the store is the Foreign Extra Stout. There are over 50 breweries in the world now that make Guinness and it is brewed to an exacting formula that ensures it is bland enough to appeal to the masses.

In Dublin, Porterhouse brewpub makes some nice beers—their Wrasslers 4x stout blows Guinness out of the water. Galway Hooker is a bit bland for my taste. There is a pub in Galway, (can’t remember the name) that carries a lot of good beers from around the world.

With that said, I have been in Canada for the last two weeks and the beer here is the worst I have ever had. Even the brewpubs can’t make a decent beer. Most places in BC seem to have Alexander Keith’s IPA, which tastes like a week lager.

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It depends on what you like. The microbreweries and brewpubs are relatively new to Ireland so its mostly ‘multinational brands’ and most people I know drink the same beer every time. The ‘real ale’ thing is all very well but ale is not really to my taste. Ideally there’d be a brewery in ever town

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I like the Porterhouse. I like its beers. Even so, when I have a taste for a red ale, I’d rather pop down the road to Maguires for a pint of Rusty.

But, when all’s said and done …

A pint of plain’s your only man!

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What I kind of miss about CO is the *variety* of beers that our microbrews make. While I love Scottish and English ale dearly and one of my favourite pubs in the world is the Clachaig Inn in Glencoe with its seven real ale pumps, Scottish and English ale, even though different types are all quite different and have a lot of character, is still Scottish and English ale. American microbreweries seem more willing to experiment with quite varied styles of beer. You can get Belgian style beers (of various sorts), German ones, English ones, stouts, lagers, all sorts.

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ethical blend- that looks like the McCaffrey’s I had a few times, but then it disappeared from the local area. Thanks for providing that link!