“There’s a lot more to the Irish stout than what’s offered in a pint of Guinness,” says The World Atlas of Beer co-author Stephen Beaumont. And where you are in Ireland determines what beer you drink.
Dublin: The category-definer dates to 1759, when Arthur Guinness brewed a version of the era’s popular British porters, called “stout” to signal strength. The creamy easy-drinker is sold on every continent, but some of the best pints of Guinness are poured at Dublin’s Victorian-era Long Hall.
Kilkenny: Dismayed by the perception that Irish stouts were being dulled down, brothers Seamus and Eamonn O’Hara founded Carlow Brewing Company and, in 1999, released their robust flagship, O’Hara’s Irish Stout: Irish grains blended with earthy Fuggle hops created a hearty brew. Head to the affiliated O’Hara’s Brewery Corner to try their namesake craft beers.
Cork City: Don’t request a Guinness in Cork. The “rebel city” supports Murphy’s, which was founded in 1856 by former distiller James J. Murphy. The pride of Cork tastes a bit sweet instead of bitter, recalling chocolate milk on a bender. Decide for yourself at the 125-year-old Sin É, which also serves up Irish music.
This piece, written by Joshua M. Bernstein, first appeared in the December 2014 issue of National Geographic Traveler magazine. Follow Joshua on Twitter at @JoshMBernstein.