Home to literally thousands of pubs, beer brewing (and beer consumption) in Ireland has a long and interesting history. Though today most people living outside of Ireland associate Irish beer with stout, Guinness being the most well known, the majority of the beer (up to 60 percent by some estimates) made and drunk in Ireland today is of the lighter lager variety.
Up until the 1700s most of the beer consumed in Ireland was imported from England and Scotland. But in the middle of the eighteenth century Arthur Guinness opened a brewery in Dublin adjacent to the Liffey River. After some years of experimentation with English porter recipes and local Irish ingredients, he created the Guinness stout so popular and well known today.
Other popular varieties of beer produced in Ireland include Murphy’s and Beamish stout, brewed in County Cork. Murphy’s and Beamish also brew lager-style beers and red ales found throughout the country. Smithwick’s brewery, located in Kilkenny, produces an amber ale that is sometimes sold outside of Ireland under the name “Kilkenny.”
Dating back to the early nineteenth century there were more than 200 breweries in Ireland, more than 50 of them in Dublin alone. Slowly these numbers dwindled, leaving just a handful of large companies still operating by the middle of the twentieth century.
With the craft beer movement of the 1990s taking hold in Ireland (as well as in Continental Europe and North America) several small-batch breweries and brewpubs began opening across the country. These make it possible for visitors to Ireland today to taste and enjoy many types of Irish beers unavailable anyplace else.
If you’ll be visiting Dublin on your Ireland vacation be sure to pay a visit to the Guinness Storehouse for a tour of the famous brewery. Tenon Tours also offers several pub tours and excursions, including the popular Countrywide Pub Crawl, to our travelers. To find out more about Tenon’s Tours of Ireland and optional tour offerings click here.