Visiting Dublin soon? Contributing writer Grace Hui shares her favourite local pubs.
The city of Dublin is synonymous with the rich dark drink that is known all over the world as Guinness Stout. From the manifold health benefits that have been attributed to the creamy beer to the wholesome working class values that are closely associated with a pint of this thirst quencher, it is no small wonder that any visitor to the capital city of Ireland makes a beeline to sample a taste of this world renowned beverage in the city of its creation.
I was never a connoisseur of alcoholic brews but after marrying an Irish man and getting fondly acquainted with the city of his birth, I am now a big fan of the dark stuff. As a tribute to the drink that has become one of Ireland’s biggest exports, here are 7 of my favourite places (in no particular order of preference) to enjoy a pint of Guinness both north and south of the Liffey.
There are many restaurants, bars, and pubs along the streets of trendy Ranelagh. The choice haunt of locals however is the watering hole of Smyths. With its classic wood paneling frontage and relaxed vibe, it’s the perfect place for the lads to hang out and have a pint (or two and maybe even more)! Matches are screened and food is served, making it a convenient place to have a drink and also fill your belly. For those that need a breath of “fresh air”, there is also a little beer garden which makes it handy for smokers to sneak out for a cigarette.
For those who have a romanticised vision of working class men of old enjoying a hard-earned drink after a day of gruelling labour at the docks, Humphreys is the pub du jour. While hipsters might call the décor dated, lovers of nostalgia will appreciate the wooden seats that have seen generations of serious drinkers wipe them clean. Its large windows also enable the eagle eyed tourist to spy the passing crowd while sipping their pint.
3. The Hill
Housed in a redbrick building with its named emblazoned brightly at night, The Hill is known to locals as a casual place to relax and chill. If you simply want to partake in a little drinking without the hassle of dressing up, The Hill is the pub for you. Although not far from the crowds of Ranelagh or Rathmines, The Hill is located on a quiet street and can be overlooked if one is unfamiliar with the area. A firm favourite of the locals, it’s best known for good value, flexible timings, and a great pint. A slight drawback is that it does not serve food but as one reviewer very aptly said: “Who needs food when there is Guinness?”
4. The Dropping Well
Situated along the tranquil banks of the River Dodder, The Dropping Well provides a rather serene and pretty setting for a pint. History buffs will be tickled to learn that its peaceful appearance belies a darker past. The premises of The Dropping Well were originally the location of a morgue! Set against the backdrop of the Great Famine, this locale has more than a smattering of mutterings on its alleged hauntings! Ghostly sightings aside however, it does serve hearty fare and a comforting pint. There is even a cast iron rhino plunked right in the middle of the rushing river. It sits there watching the tides go by although no one’s got a clue how it got there in the first place!
5. The Stag’s Head
Popular with both tourists and Dubliners alike, The Stag’s Head is quite possibly an institution in Dublin. Located in the heart of Dublin, it serves a wide variety of brews and traditional Irish food (together with some not-so-traditional dishes). Many a weary traveler has cosied up with a pint of Guinness in this classic old world pub. With oak paneling, wallpaper that have seen better days, and taxidermy adorning its walls, this is a pub that is proudly entrenched in a different era. Rich in history and armed with a sense of the unexpected, The Stag’s Head encapsulates the spirit of old-school Dublin to a tee.
6. John Kehoe’s
Enthusiastic past visitors have described John Kehoe’s as a delightful throwback to a Victorian boozer. This charming little tap house has all the trappings of the traditional Irish pub of your imagination. Wood paneling, mahogany drawers that used to store rice, tea or snuff back in a bygone era where pubs also sold provisions, a cozy snug, a knowledgeable and professional barman who isn’t tending the bar just as a part time job, John Kehoe’s is mecca for the beer lover.
With an atmosphere that is best surmised as authentic and warm, John Kehoe’s has served up pints to generations and is such a fixture in Dublin that it, along with The Stag’s Head, has spawned the creation of touristy souvenirs, cementing its position as one of Dublin’s must-visit attractions.
7. The Guinness Storehouse
Last but not least, there is the place where it all began – the Guinness Storehouse. This ginormous network of brick buildings once formed the hub of the Guinness empire where the drink was brewed, packed, and sold. Marketed now as the home of Guinness, this place is a treasure trove of all things Guinness. From past advertisement posters from all over the world, to a display of Guinness memorabilia, to a curated exhibition of how Guinness is brewed, the Guinness Storehouse is a one-stop shop to immerse yourself in all aspects of the famed stout.
This imposing brick structure is an architectural sight to behold and atop the main building sits a glass bar where one can nurse a pint while appreciating the panoramic view of Dublin. For those who fancy themselves a bit of a barmaid or barman, the Guinness tour even offers tutorials and hands-on experience on how to pull the perfect pint.
While it is undeniably touristy, the views from the bar and the quality of the fresh frothy Guinness makes this a must-try experience. My Goodness My Guinness, as they say!