Ireland’s brew crew

Craft beers are taking the brewing world – and Ireland – by storm. So join other beer lovers in tasting the delicious wares of the island’s microbreweries and small-scale producers

The Crown Bar, Belfast
The Crown Bar, Belfast

Think you’re a beer buff? Think again. There are people out there who take this stuff REALLY seriously. “They call themselves the beer-nerds. Nice guys,” says bartender Joann Erickson of the people who pop into her pub – notebook in hand – when the seasonal craft beers come in.

But just because you don’t travel around bars with a notebook at the ready, doesn’t mean you can’t join in.

Grab a pint of Ireland’s craft beer
Grab a pint of Ireland’s craft beer

Prop yourself up at Joann’s place of work, Dublin’s JW Sweetman, and you can get an instant tutorial in microbrewing. Shining copper tanks bulge inside the pub, and you can often see the head brewer at work on the very ales you’re sipping.

JW Sweetman’s five in-house brews range from a classic Irish stout to a crisp lager, and the five-sample tray is the best way to experience the lot.

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A micro explosion

“The whole artisan beer scene is going into orbit in Ireland,” wrote the Godmother of Irish cooking, Darina Allen in the Irish Examiner. And with a discerning population to taste it, and the world-famous Irish pub to sell it in, it’s a wonder it took so long.

If you’re looking to get acquainted with what’s out there, amble down to the Oslo Bar and microbrewery in Salthill, just outside Galway city. Oslo is one of six pubs operated by the Galway Bay Brewery between Galway and Dublin, all guaranteeing extensive menus. In their Black Sheep Pub in Dublin, there are 23 craft beers on tap and over 110 craft brews on offer.

The staff is the real prize here, though, eager to assist navigation of the numerous choices.

An island-wide beer affair

Cork city holds dear its Franciscan Well Brewery and brewpub. The stout is piped straight from the brewery, while hulking, holding tanks of ale glimmer behind the bar.

Northern Ireland’s largest microbrewery, Whitewater, runs the White Horse Inn, as well as supplying casks to the likes of Belfast’s Crown Bar Saloon. The gas-lit, handcrafted wooden interior is one of the prettiest places to taste Whitewater or Hilden’s latest brews. Molly’s Chocolate Stout is a taste for the adventurous, though, and is best experienced at Molly’s Yard pub next to Belfast’s College Green microbrewery.

Bottled beauties

After The New York Times pulled up a chair at the bar of Dublin’s L. Mulligan Grocer recently, it listed some local craft brews it would love to drink when back in the America. The wish-list included Belfast Blonde, Galway Hooker, and Eight Degrees Knockmealdown Porter.

Ireland's craft beer revolution has even hit Reddit. A recent thread about Irish craft brews elicited the following response from one user: “I really hope Irish craft brewing takes off to the point where I can find a few in the US.”

Here's hoping.

For the original, though, you know where we are.

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