Dublin: A quick guide to Irish beer and drinks

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Two pints of Guinness at Slattery's in Dublin. Photo: Vermegrigio
Two pints of Guinness at Slattery's in Dublin. Photo: Vermegrigio

By Jessica Colley—

The craft beer craze hasn’t caught on in Ireland. At pubs in Dublin, it’s all about the classics. If you ask the barman for a pint, you will get a pint of Guinness. Beyond the black stuff, there are a couple other Irish beers of note, and a few hot drinks that are the perfect companion for a rainy day.

Here is a guide to Irish beer and drinks. And remember: if you order at the bar, there’s no need to tip the bartender. Keep your change.


Ireland’s most famous stout, Guinness Draught, is brewed right in city center Dublin. Often called the “milkshake of beers” Guinness is known for its rich, creamy head and hint of chocolate. Remember to be patient when ordering a pint – the perfect Guinness takes time to pour – but it’s worth the wait. Walk into any pub in Dublin and you will see a lot of locals drinking the black stuff (and they always wait for it to settle before taking that heavenly first sip).

Smithwick's is older -- and lighter -- than Guinness. Photo: ach10

Alternative Irish stouts: Beamish stout, Murphy’s Irish Stout


Smithwick’s Irish Ale is even older than Guinness. This smooth ale dates back to the 14th century and is produced in the oldest operating brewery in Ireland. While many of the best known Irish beers are stouts, Smithwick’s is the biggest ale producer in the country. If you find Guinness a little heavy (especially after the first one or two) switch to Smithwick’s for something lighter, but still flavorful.

Harp Lager

On a sunny day in Dublin, grab an outdoor table at a pub and sip on a refreshing Harp lager. This crisp beer is a light alternative to heavy Irish stouts. This smooth, light beer doesn’t have the same history as Guinness or Smithwick’s – it’s only been around since 1960 – but it’s a tasty Irish alternative to other foreign lagers on tap.

Warming up with a little Irish coffee. Photo: Morner

Irish Coffee

If you happen to be in Dublin on a rainy day, there is nothing more satisfying than an Irish coffee. This mix of hot coffee, Irish whiskey, and brown sugar topped with a thick layer of cream will warm you up on more than one level. Don’t over-stir the concoction – simply sip the coffee through the cream.

Irish Whiskey Punch (or a Hot Toddy)

Another traditional drink – often enjoyed when you have a case of the sniffles – is an Irish Whiskey Punch or Hot Toddy. Irish Whiskey is mixed with hot water, brown sugar, cloves, and lemon, resulting in one steaming, soothing drink.

When in Dublin, go local. Drink Irish beers and whiskey, eat Irish cheese, and don’t leave without sampling local smoked salmon and roasted lamb. Preferably with a pint of Guinness on the side.

Your favorite pour? What do you order when you cozy up to the bar at a Dublin pub? Share your advice in our comments section.

Also in our guide: Heading to Dublin and looking for a great affordable hotel? Our editors have hunted down the best cheap hotels in Dublin, from hostels to three-star hotels, all centrally-located, clean and cheap. Read more in our Dublin hotel guide.

About the author

Jessica Colley is a freelance travel writer and poet. She blogs about Dublin and more at www.thegreatamericantraveldream.com.

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One thought on “Dublin: A quick guide to Irish beer and drinks”

  1. “The craft beer craze hasn’t caught on in Ireland.” Well that ain’t true, most pubs will have a few so-called craft beers in bottles and there are more and more pubs opening who only sell them.
    “milkshake of beers”, no, sorry, nobody in Ireland calls it that.

    Also, Harp Lager is pretty difficult to find in Dublin nowadays, even more so on tap. Maybe in the poorer inner city areas but sure you wouldn’t want to be going there as a tourist anyway.

    “Irish Whiskey Punch (or a Hot Toddy)” No, no, no, no….ask a barman in Ireland for that and he probably won’t know what you’re on about. We call it a Hot Whiskey, simple as that.

    Do you think it’s necessary to tell people not to tip? if service is good then people should always give the barstaff a token of appreciation. Don’t tip taxi drivers though, they earn a fortune in Dublin and if they tell you otherwise they’re lying.

    To go bóg e….that’s Irish for take it easy :)


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