“Work is the curse of the drinking classes.” – Oscar Wilde
Irish brews consist of more than Guinness, and there are enough flavors to please any fan of breweries and beers. For you who brew their beer at home, you might even get a few tips and other ideas about ingredients. Below are a few of our favorites. And of course, Guinness may be at the bottom of this list, but it is close to the top of our personal list!
If you decide to visit a brewery, make sure you call ahead. Hours change, depending upon season and brew capacity.
Acton’s Country Pub and Microbrewery
The Brooklodge Hotel, Macreddin,
Beamish & Crawford Brewery
Founded in 1792, Beamish and Crawford produces 574,000 hl of beer per year.
South Main Street, the city of Cork
Beamish Irish Stout
- 4.1% alc. Stout, but paler than Guinness or Murphy’s. Close to a porter.
- 4.2% alc. Irish ale, Beamish Red Irish Ale
- 4.2% alc. Pale lager, Miller Genuine Draft
In his book Noted Breweries of Great Britain & Ireland published in 1889, Alfred Barnard Wrote:
“The business of Beamish & Crawford in Cork is a very old one dating as far back as the seventeenth century and it is said to be the most ancient porter brewery in Ireland.
The home of the brewery at South Main Street, lies in the heart of what was the medieval city. Originally one of the old city gates stood nearby as did the Cork jail. Indeed a stone from the jail, upon which the severed heads of the executed used to be displayed, now stands outside the counting house door at the brewery. The huge lock on the door also came from the jail.
The business partnership prospered and within fifteen years output at Beamish & Crawford had grown from 12,000 barrels per year to a phenomenal 100,000 barrels in 1805, making it the largest brewery in the country and the third largest in Britain and Ireland.”
Today, Beamish & Crawford is owned by Scottish & Newcastle. (By the way, the stone of severed heads is long gone. Sorry.)
Biddy Early Brewery
Founded in 1995 with an annual production of 850 hl. Biddy Early Brewery is a brewpub, and County Clare is thought by many of us at Authentic Ireland to be the best area in Ireland. (Of course, we are raised here and our offices are here, but we are not one bit prejudiced in passing along the praises of County Clare.)
Iangh, County Clare
Brews you’ll find at Biddy Early:
- Black Biddy: 4.2% Stout. Brewed from British hops, pale ale malt, Roasted barley and crystal malt. It is fined with carrageen moss.
- Blonde Biddy: 4.2% A pale lager. Brewed from lager malt and German Hallertu hops. Bottom fermented
- Red Biddy: 4.9% Red Irish ale. Brewed from pale ale, chocolate & Crystal malts, and bog myrtle.
- Real Biddy 4.9% Red Irish ale, this is a cask-conditioned version Of Red Biddy.
The Carlow Brewing Company
Founded in 1998, this is a microbrewery next to the railway station in Carlow town.
“The Goods Store”
Station Road, Carlow
Brews your’ll find at Carlow Brewing:
- O’hara’s Celtic Stout 4.3% Stout
- Curum Gold Celtic Wheat Beer 4.3% Wheat beer. Cascade, Challenger, and Mount Hood hops, with the ingredients of pale malt, torrified wheat & caramalt.
- Molings Traditional 4.3% Irish ale; brewed from pale malt, crystal Red Ale malt and roasted barley.
- Beerkeeper Gold 4.3% Wheat beer, brewed for the Beerkeeper in Dundalk.
The Celtic Brewing Co.
This is a microbrewery. After you’ve taken in the intense scenery and the haunting scent of early Irish history in County Meath, this may be just the stop for you.
Enfield Industrial Estate,
Enfield, County Meath
Tel: (0405) 41558
Founded in 1997
Types of Brews Available:
- Finnians Red 4.3% Irish ale
- Finnians Organic Lager 4.3% Pale lager
- Finnians Stout 4.3% Stout
- Shiva Premiuim Lager 5% Pale lager
The Franciscan Well Brewery
If you’ve settled into Cork after an adventure at the Blarney Stone, just the smell of a Franciscan Well can take bring you back to reality. Or a different one…. Music on Monday nights, plenty of activities, festivities and festivals. A nice place after you’ve spent the day wandering the gardens of Blarney.
Founded in 1998, their annual production is 2,500 hl. All around a good place to visit and relax for an evening in Cork with excellent brews.
14 North Mall
Cork, County Cork
Tel: (021) 210130
Types of Brews Available:
- Shandon Stout 4.2% Stout
- Blarney Blonde 4.2% Blonde ale
- Rebel Lager 4.3% Pale lager
- Rebel Red Ale 4.3% Irish ale
- Purgatory 4.5% Pale ale, American style, hopped with Cascades
- Friar Weisse 4.7% Unfiltered pale wheat beer.
- Bellringer Winter Warmer 6.0% Strong ale that’s malty and hoppy.
Founded in 2006, this is a microbrewery that sells their beer in ten pubs in Galway. The beer is worth a trip in itself, and finding something from the brewery to take home as a souvenir is a double bonus. You can hardly beat the name of this ale, and who back home will know a Galway Hooker is a ship?
Galway, County Galway
Great Northern Brewery
The Great Northern Brewery was founded in 1897, and produces 1,000,000 hl of beer annually. It is now owned by Guinness, who bought them in 1959 to brew their lager.
Dundalk, County Louth
Type of Brews Available:
- Harp lager 3.6% Pale lager
- Harp Export 4.5% Pale Lager
And, last but not least, the brew that keeps putting Ireland on the map, particularly on St. Patrick’s Day!…..
Arthur Guinness Son & Co.
The most well-know brew in Ireland, Guinness was founded in 1749. In the year 2003, their production was 4,000,000 hl per year. After moving all brewing facilities to Dublin from London, it is expected that their production will be 6,000,000 hl per year.
Saint James’s Gate, Dublin 8
Types of Brews Available:
- Draught Guinness 4.1% A stout, served by mixed-gas pressure. Filtered, pasteurized and served cold. A bitter finish with licorice, toffee and cream aromas.
- Guinness Original 4.2% Stout. Bottled Guinness—not as good as the draught beer, but what beer is? Same flavors without as much zest.
- Guinness Extra Stout 4.3% Stout. Bottle-conditioned. Still available in Ireland. A classic – worth going to Ireland to drink. It has an intense burnt bitterness, balanced with a sour cream undertone. A truly wonderful beer.
If you’re on a self-drive tour of Ireland, please be sure not to drink and drive. It’s not tolerated in Ireland any more than it is in the States or the UK. (Plus, some of our roads could make a tipsy drive particularly difficult.) Either end your day near a brew pub so you can walk back to one of the lovely places on your itinerary, or use a chauffeured tour for part of your travels if you expect to indulge heartily in some of Ireland’s finest!
Enjoy to the fullest and be safe while you’re at it!