Why do we drink?
Irish people have a fearful reputation for driving large amounts of alcohol but why do we do that? I'm sure there are many complex reasons but here are some of my observations: (a) We're essentially shy people, especially when dealing with the opposite sex. Drink provides false courage to chat up someone nice. (b) It it a long-standing social tradition, begun by men. These days both sexes drink equally and there are few places where women are unwelcome (c) In a country where it rains a lot of the time, drink combats weather depression and monotony.
We don't really understand the concept of a 'free' house since every pub is free from ownership by a brewery (needless to say, they're not free from extracting large amounts of money from the customer!). There is competition between the stout brewers and Murphys from Cork have been trying to break the Guinness stranglehold for many years. You won't find a huge variety of beers on offer in Irish pubs with the exception of speciality pubs such as Temple Bar's well known Porterhouse.
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An index and guide to alternative pubs in Dublin. There are a number of pubs in Dublin which don't need to tout their wares and consequently offer something different, not least an absence of tourists and a chance to meet real Dubs. Several pals have assisted with pub 'research'; I must single out Stefan Engemann [SE] for his great contribution.
Please check my James Joyce pub crawl page and let me know what you think. It's based around pubs of Joyce's time and is fairly manageable (I think!).
There are many good pubs in Dublin, but you are likely to pay for the most expensive pint in Ireland. However, stout never tastes the same anywhere else in the world. Don't leave Ireland without trying stout or an Irish whiskey! The legal drinking age in Ireland is 18 but bartenders don't tend to ask for evidence of age unless you are unfortunate enough to look much younger!
Many visitors associate Irish pubs with craic, atmosphere (caused largely by cigarette smoke and traditional music) and late opening. While all three can still be found, many argue that the smoking ban (since March 2004) has affected the 'atmosphere'. You can not smoke anywhere in an Irish bar or pub although many provide cover outside for those desperate for a 'fag'.
The new 'atmosphere' is B.O. [body odour]! A side effect of the smoking ban, namely the ability to distinguish smell other than smoke, revealed that our private hygiene habits may not be the best in Europe!
How much does it all cost? The average price of a pint of Guinness in Dublin is about €5.50, although you can pay a lot more and, sometimes, less than this.
There is an ancient ritual about drinking a pint of stout in Ireland, founded on years of experience! You must never rush any drink in Ireland, and this particularly applies to stout such as Guinness or Murphys. You will almost always receive your pint from the bar person ready to drink, in other words, it is not cloudy but settled and the main part of the beer below the creamy head is completely black. Pay and thank the staff, take your drink to your seat (or lean against the bar counter) and admire the craftsmanship of the drink. You will also note that professional bar staff in Ireland will never allow their fingers near the top of the glass; if his/her fingers happen to touch the top of the glass which you're going to touch with your lips, then ask politely for another pint. Gently tip the liquid into your mouth, avoiding your nose with the creamy head. Drink whatever amount you wish without making noise (committed drinkers will sometimes try to prove a point and drink a pint in one gulp, but there's little enjoyment in that). Having completed your mouthful, lower the glass to the table and compliment the stout's makers!