Dublin Beer Guide

Updated July 14 2016
I get asked occasionally by readers who will be visiting Dublin (or Ireland) and are looking to get a good beer including sour for a heads up on where to go to. The scene in Dublin is a bit of a moving target so I intend to update this post as time goes on.

When I started this list originally there were only bars that stocked sours, but I've expanded it to cover bars that stock a decent amount* of craft beers.

Dublin City Centre

The Porterhouse on Parliament Street. One of the best spots in Dublin, this proper Irish bar is right in the middle of the tourist area (Temple Bar), gets a lot of tourists, but unlike a lot of the other pubs in the area it's reasonably priced. It has probably the best selection of traditional sour beers in Dublin, though not huge. You'll get Cantillon and Boon there, for example (as of 2016 their prices have increased sharply, with Mariage Parfait 375ml now commanding €9.50 per bottle). They also have their own microbrewery (formerly on site, now located about 10 miles away) so you'll get their entire selection of beer there, and while they're all quality, sadly there are no sours in their range. They do good food too, again pretty reasonably priced for the area.
Porterhouse brewed Devil's Half Acre, Irish beer of the year for me in 2014.
Getting there: city centre location
Sours: world
Beer: ☆☆☆ / €€½
Food: ☆☆☆ / €€½
Location: map

Against The Grain, Wexford Street, south city centre (and quare good). Their parent company owns Galway Bay Brewery (GBB) and importation and distribution business, Pro Addition, and they bring in some of the best Britain has to offer from the likes of Siren and Brew By Numbers. They have a great selection of beer though it ebbs and flows a bit. The brewery did a kettle soured black Berliner a while back, Heathen, which which I wrote up about, and have done more one-off sours since.
Getting there: 20 minute walk from the city centre. Bus: 9, 14,16, 83, 83A from D'Olier Street. Rail: No
Sours: world
Beer: ☆☆☆ / €€½
Food: ☆☆ / €€½
Location: map


The Beer Market, High Street (Christchurch). Back closer to the city centre again. It's a fairly new place, owned by the same people that own Against the Grain, GBB. They have 20 taps but once a keg is gone a new beer goes on, so the selection is constantly changing. Again you might get stuff like Siren in there, but it depends. It's also slightly more expensive than the other two as they tend to sell in smaller measures. Like the other pubs in the same chain the decor is spartan but they now do a fairly simple but tasty food selection.
Sours: world
Beer: ☆☆☆ / €€½
Food: ☆☆ / €€½
Location: map
Transport: City centre.

L. Mulligan Grocer, on Manor Street is as far removed from the city centre as Against The Grain but in the opposite direction. Located in the now very Bohemian area of Stoneybatter, as well as having a great selection of beer and whiskey, they have a brewer on the books who gypsy brews under the name Brown Paper Bag Project, and they've have done a few sours. All the BPBP beers are limited release and can be hard to get. They do good food too, a little on the pricey side but worth it. Another proper Irish pub. From Aston Quay you can get the 37, 39, 39A or 70 or walk it in about 25 mins.
Sours: world
Beer: ☆☆☆ / €€€
Food: ☆☆☆ / €€€
Location: map

The Drinkstore (liquor store/off licence) is across the street from L. Mulligan and one of the best off licences in Ireland. The shop is very cramped though, and you're better off putting in an order online and going to collect (or have it delivered).

57 The Headline on Lower Clanbrassil Street. Geoff Carty, the owner, has been a champion of Irish craft beer since the very early days when he was manager of the Bull & Castle. He set up his own place a few years ago where he still champions Irish craft beer and does some really excellent food which is all reasonably priced. The decor is pub-on-the-corner and this spot should be on everyone's bucket list. Served by the 9, 16, 68A and 122 from the city centre or about a 30 minute walk from O'Connell Bridge.
Sours: Irish only, so not regularly
Beer: ☆☆½ / €€
Food: ☆☆☆ / €€
Location: map

W.J. Kavanagh (no website) on Dorset Street Lower (or Lower Dorset Street). Pronounced by the locals as "Dor-sette", Dorset Street and WJ Kavanagh's are a short walk from the city centre. It's also served by numerous cross city bus routes and is a 10 minute walk from Drumcondra Station (on the Maynooth line, so trains are not that frequent). A proper Dublin pub WJK's has had a checkered past. After being closed for a number of years the people behind L. Mulligan's took it over and re-opened it as a craft beer only bar, with a strong food offering. It closed down again suddenly, changed hands, and re-opened for a second time, but fortunately the beer and food selections have remained largely unchanged.
The is a decent liquor store/off licence next door with a good selection of craft beers.
Sours: world
Beer: ☆☆½ / €€€
Food: ☆☆☆ / €€€
Location: map

The Brew Dock on Amiens Street, is conveniently located between the central bus station Busarus, Connolly Station (intercity trains to Belfast, Sligo and Wexford as well as suburban commuter trains) and the Luas light rail system. Brew Dock is another GBB-owned pub and has a similar food and beer offering to the likes of Against the Grain, though it is a little smaller inside.
Sours: world
Beer: ☆☆☆ / €€½
Food: ☆☆ / €€½
Location: map

Alfie Byrne's on St. Stephen's Green, under the Conrad Hotel. Very central and located a short walk from the Luas green line, this is another GBB-owned pub and hence offers similar food and beer selections. Notable is that it has a large beer garden, something uncommon in the city centre.
Sours: world
Beer: ☆☆☆ / €€½
Food: ☆☆ / €€½
Location: map

Enoteca delle Langhe in the Italian Quarter (technically Bloom Lane). This is a restaurant with a good beer selection as opposed to a bar. Entoca, along with several other restaurants/wine bars around Dublin is owned by a former property developer turned member of parliament Mick Wallace, and has an emphasis on all things Italian. The beer selection varies quite a bit but as they import their own you'll find gems like Loverbeer on the menu from time to time.
Sours: Occasionally Italian
Beer: ☆☆ / €€€
Food: ☆☆☆ / €€€
Location: map

Dublin Suburbs

Dublin city centre is often considered to be between the two canals, the Royal and the Grand. These are the pubs and bars of note outside that area.

The Three Ton Tavern, Blackrock. Located a short walk from Blackrock DART station this is the first of the Irish JD Wetherspoons (a massive British pub chain) on the list. Beautifully renovated when JDW took it over, this pub in a lot of ways is very typically a Wetherspoons. Good selection of moderate beers (you won't find sours here), moderate food, moderate pricing. It has a better selection of beer than a typical Irish pub, at some fairly knock down prices. Worth a visit if you've never been.
Sours: no
Beer: ☆☆ / €
Food: ☆ / €
Location: map

The Dark Horse, also in Blackrock, a bit further away from the DART station, up Carysfort Ave. Another bar GBB bar, and is keeping with the rest with a strong beer selection and good pub grub. Can be a welcome alternative to the Three Ton Tavern, and vice versa.
Sours: world
Beer: ☆☆☆ / €€½
Food: ☆☆ / €€½
Location: map

The Forty Foot, Dún Laoghaire. Another JD Wetherspoons outlet, literally a stone's throw from the DART station in Dún Laoghaire. Stunning views on a clear day from its elevated location out over Dún Laoghaire harbour. Pretty much the same as the Three Ton Tavern in every other way, but can be worth a visit if you've never been.
Sours: no
Beer: ☆☆ / €
Food: ☆ / €
Location: map

Beer Traders, York Road, Dún Laoghaire. Yet another bar from the Galway Bay people, and a lot of the same descriptions apply. About a 10 minute walk from the DART station this, like the JDW/GBB relationship in Blackrock, can be a welcome alternative to the Forty Foot, and vice versa.
Sours: world
Beer: ☆☆☆ / €€½
Food: ☆☆ / €€½
Location: map

The Porterhouse Bray, a 10 minute walk from Bray DART station, this is where the Porterhouse story began. A lot of what can be said about the Parliament Street premises can also be said about this one, although it's not quite as touristy. Great beer selection, including sours, great food and weather permitting you get to sit outside in their beer garden and admire the sea views.
Sours: yes
Beer: ☆☆☆ / €€
Food: ☆☆☆ / €€
Location: map

Kenny's of Lucan right in the centre of Lucan village. While Kenny's itself has good food, the craft beer selection is abysmal. However its saving grace is that between the two entrances is the Corkscrew, and excellent liquor store with a decent selection of craft beer and plenty of sours. If you arrange it with the staff you can bring your beer through to the bar for a (corkage) fee. Beware though, check the fee in advance as it can be as high as €3, sometimes making an already expensive beer prohibitive. If you're travelling to Lucan from the city centre the 66, 66a, 66b 67 or 25 serve the village itself, or the 239 links to Blanchardstown but it is very infrequent so check in advance.
Sours: world, via the liquor store/off-licence
Beer: ☆☆½ / €€
Food: ☆☆ / €€
Location: map

The Great Wood beside the Blanchardstown Centre (shopping mall/centre). This is awkward to get to unless you're in the area as it's at the end or near the end of a few bus routes. Another JD Wetherspoon pub, the same can be said about this as the others. Beautifully renovated it's probably the nicest of the JDW Dublin pubs, but with the same beer selection, food selection, and strangely it's also more expensive than the others, with most drinks being 25 or 50 cent more. No real explanation for that one.
Sours: no
Beer: ☆☆ / €½
Food: ☆ / €½
Location: map

The Old Schoolhouse, just off Main Street, Swords. This is a beautiful proper Irish pub with extensive beer garden. There is a Sabco 50 litre microbrewery in the basement, making this one of only two brewpubs in Dublin. Aside from the in-house beers the selection is pretty mainstream. Food is excellent if a little pricey. Easiest way to get in or out of the city centre from Swords is the privately run Swords Express, the only Swords bus service which uses the Dublin Port Tunnel. Leap card is accepted by Swords Express.
Sours: no
Beer: ☆ / €€€
Food: ☆☆☆ / €€€
Location: map

The Old Borough, Main Street, Swords. Another JD Wetherspoon pub, this backs onto The Old Schoolhouse. Formerly owned by well know Dublin pub group TP Smith, it shocked many when it was sold to JDW. Same can be said about this one as all the others regarding food and beer selection. I'm not sure it's as nicely renovated, it seems dark inside with a lack of natural light.
Sours: no
Beer: ☆☆ / €
Food: ☆ / €
Location: map

Getting around Dublin

Bus. Google (via Maps) knows the Dublin Bus network fairly well and will usually give you a bus route to get you from A-B, especially in the city centre as 90% of routes run though it. When you board state your destination to the driver who will tell you the fare. The cash fare will typically be €2.55, but check with the driver first. They only accept coins and don't give change. If you're going to be using the buses a bit more frequently, there is a smart travel card called Leap Card which costs €5 and you'll have to put credit on it when buying, a minimum of €5. Instead of €2.55 cash the fare on Leap will usually be €2.05, but again check with the driver. You can buy and top up Leap cards at most convenience stores in the city and at Luas (street tram) vending machines, as well as the vending machines in all railway stations (DART, Commuter). Beware that Dublin Bus last buses usually leave between 11.10pm and 11.30pm, well before the pubs have closed,
Rail. The rail network in Dublin is not extensive, comprising the electrified DART service which runs North-South along the coast. Trains are moderately frequent. Like Dublin Bus the last trains leave well before the pubs close, usually between about 11.15pm and 11.30pm. More information on www.irishrail.ie.
There are also two street tram lines, currently unconnected, called Luas (Irish word for "speed"). These are very frequent and run late, with the last trams usually departing at 12.30am. More information on leap.ie.
- Leap card is accepted on DART and Luas.
Taxi. Just a word of caution about getting around Dublin by taxi. I don't know any taxi drivers so I can speak freely, but taxis are expensive and unlike in London you get charged for every additional person if travelling in a group. Uber, but moreso Hailo, are also in Dublin but you will be charged the full taxi rate. There are no savings from using these apps, though there can be some convenience. As a comparison I get charged approximately 2.5 times the rate in Dublin that I do in Salt Lake City on Uber. The upside is that Dublin has more licensed taxis than New York, so they're very common and you can usually just flag one down on the street.

* decent amount is defined by me as at least eight craft breweries in continuous stock, or brewing your own in-house.
E&OE

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