What do you think of when you think of Ireland? Rolling green hills? Diddley-aye music and dance? Guinness? A picture perfect pint, emblematic of the nation and considered in many ways as much of a valuable cultural export as a beer commodity and that is due in no small part to the Guinness dominance of the brewing industry here for a remarkably long, long time. For the majority of people, Guinness features in their top three answers to that question and it's no surprise.

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Guinness is synonymous with Ireland and especially Dublin as it is brewed here. There was a time where you either drink Guinness or didn't drink such was the limited diversity of choice for drinkers. Despite all this however Craft Beers are now booming in Dublin, indeed in Ireland as a whole, with many new breweries putting out exceptional new brews and steadily taking an ever increasing chunk of the market.

Dublin was renowned for its brewing excellence and over 300 years ago there were more than 1,500 taverns in the capital, hundreds of breweries producing beers of every description and there was a remarkable excellence & diversity of brews available. That diversity, thankfully, seems to be rekindling of late as we are now seeing the effects of the 2005 implementation of a 50% tax rebate for micro-breweries producing fewer than 20,000 hectolitres of beer each year which has allowed many beer enthusiasts and home brewers to turn their hobbies and passion into a viable business, driving a beer revolution parallel to the rest of the world.

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It's still in its infancy here in Ireland, but the Craft beer movement in The U.S has demonstrated remarkable growth in the past 30 years or so, earning more than 7.6% market share, not bad for an industry which was at one time the butt of a joke; What has American beer and having sex in a boat got in common? They're both fucking close to water! So it seems there's a growing number of discerning drinkers favouring high-quality, locally produced beers with a focus on real flavour and diverse tastes rather than the 'watery' produce of the big breweries concerned with the bottom line and economies of scale. It's none more evident than in Dublin where the number of pubs either stocking a decent selection of craft beers or indeed are dedicated solely to craft beers is constantly on the up.

You can join NEXT City Tours for our Brew Legacy Tour in Dublin, a free tour taking you through the fascinating story of Dublin's brewing heritage, letting you in on the Guinness story and exploring the craft beer revolution here with free samples of local craft beers....did I mention it's free? It's free.  Enjoy the list and hopefully see you soon in Dublin to try a few.

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The 5 Lamps Dublin Lager – 4.2% ABV - The Five Lamps Brewery Dublin


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A traditional Czech style pilsner, this Dublin lager has a biscuity malt flavour with some fruit notes and a slightly higher hop rate than the big brewery lagers we are used to here while still being soft and rounded. It's crisp and refreshing with a hint of spice. If anyone asks you while in Dublin if you know where the five lamps are be aware there is no correct answer...

Rebel Red – 4.3% ABV – Franciscan Well Brewery Cork


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An Irish Red Ale with amber highlights and a caramel and toffee sweetness but a dry finish and hearty maltiness. Nice and flavoursome and pleasant to down.

Oyster Stout – 4.6% ABV - The Porterhouse Brewing Co. Dublin


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One of three stouts brewed by The Porterhouse and has been voted the official second best stout in the world (the first is their Plain Porter – twice voted number 1). The Oyster stout isn't suitable for vegetarians as fresh oysters are shucked into the conditioning tank as part of the brewing process, but it doesn't have a particularly 'oyster' taste, more a 'minerally' sweetness. It's very well rounded and balanced and oh so smooth. Delicious!

Deception Golden Ale – 4.3% ABV – Trouble Brewing Kildare


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A smooth, refreshing and easy to drink full-bodied ale with a light fruitiness and bitterness from the traditional English & modern American hops. It's not too carbonated which keeps it smooth and it has a crisp, floral finish. Goes down nicely.

Black Pitts Porter – 4.8% ABV - The Five Lamps Brewery Dublin


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Another offering from The Five Lamps brewery, this porter is full-bodied and full of character with an intense dark chocolate taste with roasted barley against a toffee and caramel background. Soft and nicely finished with a rounded hop note. Fresh, dark and chocolaty.

Galway Hooker – 4.4% ABV – Galway Hooker Brewery Galway


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Aside from the name being the inspiration for our immature giggles (it's actually named after a boat), this Pale Ale is a bright, fresh and flavoursome beer. It's somewhat fruity, well-balanced with hop-notes and toasted barley with a rounded, clean, slightly 'citrusy' refreshing finish.

Simcoe Rye Ale – 6% ABV – Eight Degrees Brewing Cork


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This is a golden coloured, very flavoursome Rye ale boasting intense fruity-ness and a bold taste of tangerine, passion fruit & peppery rye spice and is well balanced between hop & rye malts with a smooth & spicy finish. This one tends to be a limited edition, but Eight Degrees also offer five-year round beers as well as seasonal, and are well worth checking out.

All of the above beers would be considered fairly 'sessionable', that is they are suitable to drink a few of in one session due to their standard ABV content of around 4.5% (with exception of Simcoe). Although they are all flavoursome and very tasty in their own right they are not overly carbonated or gassy or very intensive making them refreshing & easily drank. Some craft beers will have a higher alcohol percentage and a much higher hop rate (especially double IPAs for example) and as such are beers to savour rather than sink at a normal rate so be careful when you do get to wet your lucky lips on some of these delicious brews.

 

Cheers.

Mike Wrach