Planning a little trip to Ireland. Just wondering about the beer. What beers are available in the pubs besides Guinness? Looking for Belgium ales and other European brews. Not into the usual array of American lagers. Thanks.
There are lots of good Irish brews besides Guinness. If you like something lighter, why not try Harp lager or Smithwick's ale. American lagers were actually not that easy to find there, last time I was there (that was about 15 years ago though).
I haven't been to Ireland but I can speak to the other subject of you note. I keep a beer diary in the back of my travel diary. Its interesting to look back on a pint or two. There are good beers everywhere. One thing I did not like was beer with lemonade in it.
Monte. beer with lemonade is called a 'shandy' in Oz. It was a popular summer drink for ladies in days gone by who would be thought 'unlady like' to drink straight beer. I love a shandy.
If Fritz is asking about Belgian ales, he's not looking toward the lighter side.
It is true that if your pallet has grown accustom to West Coast IPA's, Belgian Trippels, Imperial Stouts, etc. that have made the craft brew scene so beloved to many of us, the average pale lager that comes out of the tap from most standard bar line-ups throughout the British Isles will seem a bit on the thin and lackluster side.
But fear not Fritz, there is a growing craft brew scene finally getting started around Ireland. You'll have to go to the bigger liquor stores or the occasional wine-bar-style, trendy place, but, especially in the Galway area, there were many interesting bottles to be found.
However, a creamy Murphy's or Guinness from the nitrogen tap is still a fine go-to quaff when you find yourself in a place for the music, or following the line-up for the best fish 'n chips in town.
Been to Ireland a few times, just like anywhere the brews can change - while Guinness is likely always an option - the World is almost always available - not just Stella Artois, which seems universal. The availability of Belgium and Czech beers is near universal too, in Ireland - North and South.
Judy, That's the word I was looking for. I see shandy for sale here in the summer time. I thought the ladies went straight to the whiskey.
Ireland is beer-lovers heaven. I don't think I saw a pub that didn't have at least 4-5 brews on tap. And that doesn't include the craft breweries that have their own pubs (no Guinness!). I'm not a fan, so although I spend many happy hours in Irish pubs, I only drank Bulmer's cider.
Start with Wiki and begin to explore . . . http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beer_in_Ireland
I learned to ask a few questions when ordering beer. It's good to know your personal preferences. Bitter? Light (Pilsner)/Medium (Amber) or dark (stout). Full bodied? This will help you select a beer. Staff are usually good with beer recommendations. Cask Ales? Here's a tip - if you are planning a long night of pub hopping - then consider a Pilsner. If you are parking yourself at one place, then indulge in a heavy stout and slowly sip it. Cheers! There are so many great beers now, I don't bother with trying to have a favorite anymore. I do know my preferences and look for distinct flavors that I can't easily get at home. Also, try ciders and ginger beer. I look forward to ginger beer in the UK (with or without alcohol). It beats the dickens out of Canada Dry.
Shandy. The bar man in the Lake District used a carbonated lemon-lime drink. Others do use lemonaid, ginger beer or ginger ale. A pleasant drink on a hot summer UK mid-day walk.
In France, a shandy is a panache, and in Austria and Germany it's a radler. I liken it to a German Gatorade, refreshing but less alcohol than a straight bier.
Back to Ireland, it was surprising to see Coors Light in every pub. While it used to be made only in Golden Colorado (just down the road from Wheat Ridge), they started making in in Cork a few years ago. Now it's, surprisingly, wildly popular. Barkeepers said it was mostly popular with younger drinkers.
Chani mentioned cider, and that's worth having!
IIRC, most of the popular Irish bears are made by the same huge, international company.
Are there any small, local craft brewers in Ireland?
Indeed there are. This is the site of a trade association: http://beerireland.ie/craft-brewers/
Murphy's is brewed in Cork and I think people tend to drink that more in that region of the country. Plenty of people drink Guinness in Cork but somehow I got the impression that there was a local pride thing regarding Murphy's in County Cork. I did not find them to be that different so the last time I was in that region I would order Murphy's. I just checked it out on Wikipeda and Smithwick's is brewed in Kilkenny. I can't remember having one of those, but the description makes it sound pretty good.
Re: radler & shandy. I think that much of the world refers to lemon-lime soft drinks (e.g., Sprite or 7-Up in the US) as "lemonade".
Depending on where you're from in the US, you'll find that the Irish beer scene is far less varied than the US scene in places like Portland, Seattle, San Diego, etc. People typically stick to the same beer rather than go out to places with 20 plus taps to try 4 or 5 beers. That being said, those places are becoming more popular everywhere.
There is still a good variety of styles in Ireland. Often, in my limited Irish experience, a pub will typically have about one beer per style on draft. I'm a craft beer (IPA's and other ales) fanatic and I rarely order the same thing twice. However, I think drinking the draft beer in Ireland is an amazing experience, and I'd much rather drink a draft Irish beer in Ireland than a Belgian beer in a bottle any day. There will be some pubs that have varied imports on draft that are fun to try, but I'd recommend these Irish beers:
Everyone knows about Guinness. But if you've never been, it does taste better there and is often just right with the gray sky and rainy weather. Outside of Guinness, I think these are great:
Swithwick's (Pronounced Smiddick's) is an Irish Red Ale that is somewhat popular in the US. It's a personal favorite.
Kilkenny's Irish Cream Ale is a very smooth tasty cream ale. If you're not familiar with this style, this is the best beer to start with. This style is getting bigger in the US with help from the recent popularity of Mother Earth's Cali Creamin' Ale.
Harp lager is a great lager but you've likely had it in the states. Murphy's is the alternative to Guinness which many swear by.
I'd say that the Irish do two styles of beer better than any other country in the world - Red Ales and Cream Ales. I've had other great red ales in Ireland and the names escape me. Like I said, most pubs will have one beer of each style on tap at minimum. If you see a red ale or cream ale you haven't had, try it- that'd be my recommendation.
Was there in October 2014, I developed a taste for Murphys over Guinness, Murphys seemed to be available everywhere until I got to the north. When I needed a break from the heavy stuff, most pubs also carried Carlsberg. If you go to Dublin check out the Porterhouse Brewing Company in Temple Bar area, great selection and great food. I also found Galway Hooker pale ale to be available most places. Budvar in the bottle was also easy to find. Enjoy your trip.
My wife informed me that the Guinness I enjoy on occasion here in the states is brewed in Canada ;-( what's up with that?
Also, there was an interesting thread on TA about the best pubs for a Guinness in Dublin. There was talk of the distance from keg to tap and the frequency of line cleaning, stuff you just don't think about. Lots of brews mentioned too.