There is no better place than a pub, and no better drink than beer. Some people might disagree, but those people are wrong. Numerous experiments and studies in social science can back it up, many of those I have conducted myself in said pubs. Not clubs, not parties, not cafés: pubs. Having a beer in a pub is like yoga for people who don’t appreciate their anatomy being twisted into a pretzel; trust me, I’m a doctor (no I’m not).
So when Lisa told me she and two of her best friends, Kathi and Michi, wanted to go to Dublin for a long weekend, I knew what I had to do. It did not matter that the main objective of the plan was to visit their friend studying there for a year on the Erasmus program, I was ready to commandeer this trip for a greater cause. Like many adventurers before me, braving the unknown and beating insurmountable odds, I was going to explore Dublin’s pubs. I had two nights to make the most out of. Challenge accepted.
I used the internet message boards to do my research on what to look for in a pub, and which ones were worth a visit. This information had to come from Dubliners, that was essential, and the investigation put me in contact with John, the man behind the brilliantly titled website: Publin: A directory with a Google map, a database of many pubs, beer listings and prices for each pub, and pub-crawl guides. I was in the right direction. After a few exchange of emails, he volunteered to lead our brave party through the many pubs of Dublin.
Once in Dublin, I put my innate “internet strangers are after my organs” fear aside and we met John downtown, ready to commence exploration. I was curious to go to the pubs frequented by the locals, hopefully finding places with good craft beers. As we stepped into Mulligan’s for the first pint and something to eat, John informed me of the crisis affecting the pubs lately. People just don’t go that much anymore; with the economic situation and elevated beer prices, more and more people drink at home. The Licensed Vintners Association started an initiative called Dublin Does Fridays hoping to attract the after-work crowd back into the capital’s hostelries. But, in his opinion, the money destined for such advertisement would be better off spent on subsidies so that prices could be temporarily lowered. He not only has the Publin directory, but he used to be a pub crawl guide; when a professional speaks, you pay attention.
Mulligan’s is, in its own words, “fiercely local”. Both the craft beer and food served is made in Ireland. Pork belly and Irish craft beer is a great way to start any evening, we were only at the first pub and I was already considering permanent residence in the pub. But still, we had to move on. The second pub, the Cobblestone, was a small place packed entirely with locals and a live band that could barely be heard over the murmuring of the crowd. So much for the bleak environment the pubs are going through, I thought to myself. But when we got to the Bull and Castle I could see what John was talking about. A great place with a large beer selection and comfortable long tables, while not empty, showed the gaps people should have been occupying, like an empty pint mug urging to be refilled. This should not be happening on a Friday night, where are all the people? As John said, “people are becoming more choosy in where they drink and aren’t just turning up to any pub any more. They’re going to places for craft beers, for cheap prices and for pubs with a reputation.”