The relationship with the beer and the pub
The notoriety of Ireland on alcohol is not a mystery. And the cliché to regularly go to the pub (I don’t want to say “daily” but…) to drink a pint of Guinness is entirely true. Irish people love to go to the pub. However, the objective is not to be drunk to forget about work and personal issues, and start again on the next day. The goal is to socialize. We go to the pub with our colleagues to develop our network or with our friends to catch up and have fun.
If you don’t like beer, you can always find wine and cocktails in pubs (a lot of people love white wine). If you don’t like alcohol at all, I have to admit this is a little bit complex for you. And I don’t know why you chose Ireland. It’s definitely part of the culture. However, it still perfectly doable of course, but you might not get the wholeness of the culture. Going out with Irish people to a pub when you don’t drink alcohol should be a little bit disturbing I think. But don’t go blank. It’s not because you don’t drink any alcohol that you have to refuse to go out to the pub when Irish people ask you. As I told you before, they go to the pub to socialize. Constantly refusing could upset them.
It’s usually about one or two pints, in a relaxed atmosphere, just to talk and to chill out after work. From 7pm-ish, you will notice a change in the pubs’ environment, the volume of music will increase, people will be more drunk, etc.
But let me talk to you a little bit more about these pubs, which are now legendary. Forget about your local bar. I’m sure there is nothing look like an Irish pub.
The Irish pub owns… an atmosphere. Yes, I think this is the word that would give the best definition. Well… So it’s going to be a nice challenge to describe it… because the best is to push a pub’s front door and living in the moment to understand.
The environment is very friendly and warm. The light is low. A nice dim light. The interior decoration is often woody and the owners kept the foundations, the base of the place which give this specific charm. During the winter, you can find some pubs that kept their fireplaces and use them to warm up the place.
Seats, chairs, armchairs, sofas, etc., are comfy. Unlike many countries where you drink a coffee or a beer on a metal or plastic chair and then leave, you go to the pub in Ireland for several hours. Comfort is essential because the pub is a true and important lively place.
And… The customers. All are happy and approachable. Yes, it is quite common to start a conversation with a stranger. It won’t be rude and the person won’t be offended at all, and won’t send you packing. Try that in some countries… France for example! I challenge you to find a person who’s going to answer in a friendly way, without making fun of you, without telling you off, without thinking you’re crazy…
And as men respect women in Ireland, if you’re a man and talk to a woman in a pub, she won’t scream because she feels harassed!
The music. Irish people really love music. A lot of pubs authorize, or hire, musicians/singers on the weekend, but also certain evenings in the week. The music is soft, entertaining. It’s a nice and peaceful background noise, that won’t cover your conversations. Many Irish people also go to the pub to attend this mini-concert. You will also find some games, like darts and pool.
We find more and more publicans (you haven’t see this word for ages, huh?!) who bring this concept in other countries in the world. So you already might observed the “pub atmosphere”. However, I am warning you right now, you won’t find the same atmosphere as in Ireland… Because local owners are not able to keep an authentic Irish decoration, or because local people are not as warn and friendly as the Irish guy… I haven’t often found this environment abroad. There is always something missing. Charm most of the time.
Where to go?
I have some nice addresses for you. However, this “list” is only based on my tastes. Dublin overflows with pubs. There are everywhere. This is the culture and the way of life as I explained to you. You will obviously find one or two matching your expectations and desires. Up to you to discover them! Of course, this list is non exhaustive. I’ve been to many pubs/bars and I can’t remember each place.
- The Bleeding Horse: “Commercial” music and non traditional. The place owns a nice story (I let you read it inside). Fireplaces during winter. Very busy during games’ days.
- The Chuch: Old chuch converted into a bar. I go for the decoration of course. Some traditional shows as well.
- The Bernard Shaw: Hipster environment. Jazz during the day and commercial music on the evening. Nice surprise in the courtyard. 😉
- Fitzgerald: Maybe the only bar in Temple Bar I deign to go to. The atmosphere is quite relax during the day and it transforms to a club on several floors on the evening.
- The Stag’s Head: Local and typical decoration! Definitely a true Irish pub.
- The Porterhouse: Large choice of beers. Especially on the range of Porter and Stout beers. Top if you like these beers with a strong taste.
- Cassidy’s: Local pub. Traditional live music. And local people too. Perfect to get into the Irish mood.
- O’Donoghue’s: Mix pub. You’ll find local people but the atmosphere is a little bit more for tourists. Live music almost every evening.
- Blackbird: Outside the city centre. Beers are different than the choice you find in town. They are more hand-crafted. Relaxed environment and dim light. Some fun board games as well.
Well yeah sure. I can’t talk about the beer and the pubs in Ireland without talking about the famous pub crawl. But don’t fall in the cliché. The Irish people don’t do it every weekends, all year long.
The pub crawl is a Christmas tradition. In December, groups of friends get organized. 1 or 2 people will wear their most beautiful Christmas Jumper (nice ugly sweater but traditional). This or these persons will have to accomplish the pub crawl. 12 pints. 1 in each different pub. Versions vary but most of them agree on 12 pints, 12 pubs. It’s a lot. Really. This or these persons don’t pay their drinks. However, if they loose the challenge and stop before finishing the 12th pint, they will have to pay their friends back. And next weekend, we start again with new people! Let’s say December is very busy.
Nice tip. January follows December (wow this guy is clever), and there is another tradition in January called Dry January. It’s like a liver’s purge. No alcohol during the whole month of January. If you were wise in December, you can go to the pubs in January and you will a notice an unusual calm. Irish people abandon the pubs! As you will be one of the rarest customer in the pubs, you might receive free drinks or free food as well. The pub does not just thank you… It pushes you to stay longer, have more drinks, and to come back.
I will finish this post with, you can guess, a mandatory quote… Drink in moderation 😉