Excellent Irish Beers Beyond Guinness
The Porterhouse Chocolate Truffle Stout
Back in 1996, a time when craft beer was still relatively nascent, even in the United States, The Porterhouse opened in Dublin’s infamously boozy Temple Bar neighborhood as Ireland’s first brewpub. Each year, one of the brewery’s most anticipated products is its seasonal Chocolate Truffle Stout which adds a kick to the popular style thanks to the addition of real dark chocolate and chocolate essence.
Galway Bay Two Hundred Fathoms
Those looking for an even more modern take on a stout should try to hunt down a bottle of Two Hundred Fathoms – possibly the most heralded beer from one of Ireland’s most acclaimed craft breweries. Originally founded in 2009, five years later, Galway Bay took a popular concept from the American craft beer scene and began aging one of its imperial stouts in Irish whiskey barrels. The 2017 edition, a continued collaboration with Dublin’s small batch Teeling Whiskey, sounds like it should be available soon.
Galway Hooker Irish Pale Ale
Those in Galway looking for something a bit more easy-drinking and accessible should keep their eyes out for the Galway Hooker Brewery’s flagship Irish Pale Ale, a brew frequently seen on draft at pubs across the seaside city (and also available countrywide). Based on American pale ales, this deftly-hopped beer aims for a slightly maltier kick, intended as a nod to one of the country’s more traditional styles, Irish Red Ale – thus, the term the brewery claims to have coined when it opened back in 2006, “Irish Pale Ale.”
Reel Deel Jack the Lad
Another sessionable easy drinker I came across while traveling in Ireland went by the charming name of Jack the Lad. Also labeled as an “Irish Pale Ale” and also taking a considerable American influence, this Lad came with a delightful citrus touch that made it worthy of repeated sipping. Reel Deel Brewing opened in 2014 in the sparsely populated Mayo county, an area that nevertheless has seen a bit of a craft beer boom as of late, proving just how far Ireland interest in new breweries has come.
Of course, in the States, hoppy beers are king, and Ireland has also seen its fair share of hop bombs popping up across the country. The best one I tried – Crossroads from Kinnegar Brewing – left me dumbfounded. Despite being billed as an “American-Style IPA” and clocking in at a relatively low 6.2 percent ABV, Crossroads had a huge nose, as tantalizing as the most massive Imperial IPAs. Meanwhile, the taste was a delicious blast of foresty fruit. It reminded me of what could have been an American classic, but created on Irish shores. Kinnegar’s website touts up top, “Small Brewery, Big Beers.” Mission accomplished.
Eight Degrees The Fearless Farmhouse Ale
Need more proof that Ireland has caught full-fledged craft beer fever? Late last year, Eight Degrees Brewing, which bills itself as “naturally adventurous,” began releasing its Dukes of Burgundy series. As the name implies, these three limited-edition brews (packaged in champagne-style bottles, no less) were all aged in Burgundy wine barrels. Kicking things off was The Fearless – a Farmhouse Ale aged in Burgundy chardonnay oak barrels. Needless to say, the Irish craft beer community ate it up.
Guinness Hop House 13 Lager
Getting back to where we started, even Guinness is finding ways to change its tune. Though you wouldn’t necessarily know it by the label – which forgoes any major Guinness branding in favor of Arthur Guinness’s barely legible signature – the brewing behemoth that made its name slinging stouts unleashed a new hop-forward lager on the European market in 2015 called Hop House 13. The beer gives a casual nod to the increasingly popular India Pale Lager trend by using hip hops like Mosaic, Galaxy and Topaz. The result is actually an extremely enjoyable alternative to most of the dumbed down macro lagers on the market. Turns out you can teach an old dog new tricks.