At the risk of exposing yet another of my nerdy habits, I was in the Black Sheep on Capel St last night. It's one of a growing number of pubs in Dublin who avoid the usual Budweiser/Carsberg/Guinness beers in favour of smaller breweries. Anyone who has been to a free house in the UK will find this a familiar concept. There are now several microbreweries operating all over Ireland. More and more "normal" pubs are stocking craft beer. Most craft beer pubs do pub food too and usually will have recommended beers for each meal.
The originator in Dublin of this type of pub is the original Porterhouse in Temple Bar. The Porterhouse is something of an empire these days, with branches in Phibsboro, Nassau St, Bray as well as abroad in London and New York. Joining the original generation of craft beer pubs is the Bull & Castle beside Christchurch. The Bull & Castle has a Bavarian style beer hall upstairs with a vast array of international beers in bottle and on draught. My one complaint of both the Porterhouse and the Bull & Castle is they're extremely noisy. The former often has live music which makes it even louder and the B&C show sport on a big screen. The third originator of craft beer in Dublin is Messr Maguires on Burgh Quay, which is a kind of hybrid selling conventional beers along with their own brewed fare.
Leading the pack (in my opinion) is L Mulligan Grocer in Stoneybatter. I've heard more than one story about people walking in, asking for Guinness, finding they didn't stock, and staying anyway to drink something better. They do excellent food too. The one downside of Mulligans is their location - Stoneybatter is at best a LUAS ride away from the city centre, and if, like me, you're coming from northside suburbs, that is a pain in the ass. However, they are currently renovating WJ Kavanaghs just off Dorset St (near Temple St) and hope to be open sometime next month.
The Black Sheep has a lovely quiet atmosphere. A number of people were playing board or card games, mostly from a stock provided by the bar. They also serve food and are part of the Against the Grain company, who are on Wexford St. I haven't been there yet but it's on my list. The Gingerman on Fenian St also stocks some craft beers on tap. The Twisted Pepper, sharing the space with Dave's beloved 3FE, also has a few different beers.
This is just a small selection of the places I'm aware of in Dublin that are now stocking craft beer. If you more details, then get straight over to Beoir.org who maintain a complete list for the whole country. They also brought us the Irish Craft Beer Festival in the RDS last September, which I very much hope will become an annual event.
A final word of warning though: regularly going to these pubs will make you turn your nose up at muggle pubs and for me has led to drinking soft drinks, if I can't get anything good.