Ireland has a long and fruitful relationship with alcohol. The country produces some of the best liquors, using time-honored traditions and recipes. It’s also famous for Irish beers.
While we often associate Ireland with whiskey, these boozy pioneers also know their way around beer.
The Irish specialize primarily in two types of beer: the stout and the Irish red ale. These brews have brought Ireland international acclaim and are staples in pubs worldwide.
Finding the best Irish beers is daunting, with so many to choose from. We’ve created the ultimate guide for your beer journey.
Best Irish Beer
Learn more about Ireland’s finest beer offerings.
Guinness Extra Stout
Many of us consider Guinness the quintessential Irish beer. Beer drinkers and teetotalers alike are familiar with at least the name of the brewery.
Guinness Extra Stout provides the DNA for every existing version of the brew.
The original recipe’s carefully balanced sweet and bitter flavor is the foundation that’s made Guinness so successful.
Surprisingly light for such a hearty beer, the Extra Stout has only 180 calories and 5.6 percent abv.
Harp Lager began as a testament to Guinness’s beer supremacy.
The brewers created Harp in reaction to the growing popularity of lagers in 1960.
Harp’s ownership has changed over the years, but the beer remains beloved for its crisp taste.
The brew front-loads its bitterness, leaving nothing but a smooth aftertaste in drinkers’ mouths. Harp Lager weighs in at 4.5 percent abv.
Murphy’s Irish Stout
Murphy’s knows its way around an Irish Stout. The brewery began producing its celebrated flagship beer in 1856.
Murphy’s Irish Stout is a thick, creamy beer. The dark brew tastes of coffee and toffee, with only the slightest hint of bitterness.
It has a thick foam head and makes an incredibly smooth sip.
Murphy’s Irish Stout is only 4 percent abv, so fans can easily enjoy a pint or two with their bangers and mash and still finish the crossword puzzle before bed.
O’Hara’s Irish Stout
Though O’Hara’s only began brewing its stout in 1999, the brewery has already established itself as a master of traditional Irish beer.
O’Hara’s makes its stout adhere to the classic stout standards. The brew is dry and tastes vaguely of espresso. O’Hara’s is a bitter stout, tart, and hoppy.
The uniquely Irish flavor has won O’Hara’s multiple awards over the years. The brew has a respectable 4.3 percent abv.
Smithwick’s Irish Red Ale
Smithwick’s deviated from beloved Irish stouts and began making its Irish Red Ale in 1710.
The brewery started as a small family brewery but has been bought by and passed between several large beer conglomerates.
Smithwick’s is a delicious, crisp beer with a malty sweetness. The brew tastes subtly of caramel, while hops provide a mild kick.
The low-alcohol beer carries on 3.8 percent abv, allowing you to remain sharp while you indulge.
Kilkenny Irish Cream Ale
Kilkenny Irish Cream Ale is the cousin to Smithwick’s, produced by Guinness as a stronger version of the latter.
Kilkenny is a nitrogenated beer, meaning the gas provides the brew with a thick, foamy head. This beer is enormously popular in Canada.
The Canucks savor the mildness of the medium-bodied beer. Kilkenny is straightforward; it tastes of malt and is just hoppy enough to remind you it’s beer.
Kilkenny Irish Cream Ale has 4.3 percent abv.
Magners Original Irish Cider
Magners provides an excellent alternative for drinkers who aren’t too fond of beer but still want to celebrate their Irish roots.
Magners, fermented in the same way as wine, tastes strongly of apples.
No surprise since the brewers use 17 kinds of this fruit in the recipe.
The resulting beer is fruity, complex, and refreshing. Magners has 4.5 percent abv.
Sullivan’s Malting Irish Red Ale
Sullivan’s is a giant in the beer world.
The brewery established its dominance by becoming the first Irish brewer to claim a World Champion Keg award at the International Brewing Awards.
Sullivan’s Malting Irish Red Ale made this acclaim possible.
The brewers follow traditional Irish methods to make this hoppy beer. Rich and complex, the brew tastes like caramel and biscuits.
Sullivan’s Malting Irish Red Ale has 5 percent abv.
Cael & Crede Barrel Aged Amber Ale
Cael & Crede Barrel Aged Amber Ale owes its authenticity to Irish-sourced ingredients.
The brewery makes its delicious ale using only domestically grown malts.
Cael & Crede sets its amber ale apart by aging it in Irish whiskey oak barrels.
The oak flavor permeates the beer, while the whiskey undertones provide a pleasant, dry undertone. Subtle caramel hints round out the flavor profile.
At 6.5 percent abv, Cael & Crede Barrel Aged Amber Ale packs a stronger punch than the other beers on this list.
Porterhouse Temple Lager
Porterhouse Brewing Company believes less is more.
The brewers keep their beers simple; they avoid additives and extras, allowing the brews to speak for themselves.
The Porterhouse Temple Lager certainly announces itself loud and clear as a superior beer.
Temple lager is a mild, citrus brew. The delicate sweetness and a light kick of bitterness create a perfect sip. The beer weighs in at 4.2 percent abv.
Beamish Irish Stout
Beamish Irish Stout traces its heritage back to 1792.
Richard Beamish and Richard Crawford opened the brewery in Cork and created an Irish institution.
Beamish Irish Stout continues to be a staple in pubs across Ireland.
The rich, thick brew has a distinct roasted flavor. Dark chocolate and coffee provide the tasting undertones.
The beer has a respectable 3.8 percent abv.
Best Irish Beer
- Guinness Extra Stout
- Harp Lager
- Murphy’s Irish Stout
- O’Hara’s Irish Stout
- Smithwick’s Irish Red Ale
- Kilkenny Irish Cream Ale
- Magners Original Irish Cider
- Sullivan’s Malting Irish Red Ale
- Cael & Crede Barrel Aged Amber Ale
- Porterhouse Temple Lager
- Beamish Irish Stout
Ireland has a large volume of breweries. Even the most ambitious drinker would be overwhelmed attempting to sample every offering. These are the best Irish beers to lead you down the road to Ireland.
Did we miss one of your favorites? Leave us a comment letting us know!
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