The Craft Beer Pubs of Dublin: The Black Sheep, The Brew Dock and Against The Grain

Now that we’ve gone over the historic pubs of Dublin, let’s look at those pubs looking to make a name for themselves in the crowded drinking scene in Ireland.

Having a craft beer bar in Dublin is a bold step. The city and country is built upon the legacy of Arthur Guinness. It took a while but independent breweries are sprouting up. You might even see a craft beer or two at your historic pub.

The irony of the craft beer bars in Dublin is that they are all owned by the same company, The Galway Bay Brewery. They operate 10 pubs in Ireland serving their mico-craft beer as well as guest brews, mostly Irish, British and American.

The Black Sheep has an appropriate name since the majority of pubs in Dublin stick to Guinness, Smithwick’s and the like. Somebody has to break with tradition.

You’ll notice that The Black Sheep doesn’t try to be a historic pub. It’s more like an airy, but cozy pub with plenty of tables and a long wall of books.

It’s north of the River Liffey, away from the city center. Just walk across Grattan Bridge up Capel Street and you’ll eventually see it on the right.

Here’s what I drank. Remember, you can get half-pints of everything so you can try more!:

  • Rustbuck Rye Ale by Kinnegar BrewingRustbucket is a balance of rye and barley malt. The rye gives it a little spiciness which combines nicely with hops that contribute a citrusy note.
  • Black Boar Oatmeal Stout by The White Hag BreweryIntensely flavoured, bold, dark ale. Roasty, fruity, and bittersweet with noticeable alcohol warmth. Dark fruit flavours meld with treacle, coffee, and dark chocolate notes to create a very full-bodied and velvety, luscious texture.
  • Of Foam and Fury Double IPA by Galway Bay Brewery This double ipa is hazy orange, dense bubbly white head, good lacing. Aroma – big tropical fruits, sweet fruity malts, grapefruit pith, lots of pithy resinous fruits, super aroma.
  • Rebel Red by Franciscan Well Brewery — A malt driven Irish style red ale balance by the hop varieties Fuggles and East Kent Goulding


The Brew Dock derives it’s name from it’s location by George’s Dock. Also located north of the river, you take Talbot Memorial Bridge up to . Similar in feel to the Black Sheep, it’s a simple and comfortable interior with an upstairs area. It’s a place for serious craft beer drinkers with it’s 20+ taps.

The bartender was particular nice and was more curious about all the beer coming from America. He then introduced me to some regulars and we had what the locals call a “craic.” That’s, of course, is the gift of chat.

Here was there excellent selection I had in my flight:

  • Mare Incognita Saison by Galway Bay Brewery— their experimental pilot saison
  • Leann Folláin Stout by O’Hara’s BreweryThis full-on Irish stout is the big brother of our Irish Stout, with a heftymalt base, including a generous portion of chocolate malt, making ita bolder, brash version.
  • Stormy Port Irih Porter by Galway Bay BreweryThis Rich and Complex beer boasts its roasted coffee notes and hides certain sweetness and chocolate flavours in the background.
  • Oh Yeah! American Black Ale by Trouble Brewing — Great name for a brewery. Black in colour but with the full hop flavour of an IPA. A big citrus bite that belies the dark colour of the beer.
  • Knockmealdown Irish Sout by Eight Degrees BrewingLike tackling the Knockmealdowns in a blizzard, this beer is not for wimps. Balancing dark malts with some old world bitter hops, this robust stout offers a rich chocolaty aroma with distinctive espresso flavours.


Against the Grain, another appropriately named pub,  was the most crowded of all the craft beer places I went to because of its central location on Wexford Street. It’s where most bars, restaurant and clubs geared toward university students are situated.

This was on my list to check out and luckily enough, it was across the street from Bunsen Burger, the best hamburger in the city. The wait was 90 minutes for a table on a Saturday night, so I was like, “No problem, I’ll be at Against the Grain.”

If you can squeeze you’re way to the bar and find a place to stand, you’re greeted with some obscure beers from local producers. My rule with beer bars, I’ll have anything I’ve never heard of.

  • Goodbye Blue Monday by  Galway Bay Brewery — An Oatmeal IPA! Collaboration Brew with Begyle Brewing from Chicago, a Hop Forward American Style IPA with Oats in the malt bill. Hops Columbus, Citra, Cascade and Mosaic
  • Deception Golden Ale  by Trouble BrewingA smooth and refreshing, full-bodied ale with a distinct hop bitterness from the traditional English and modern American hops. Subtle fruit flavours and a crisp, lingering finish.
  • Obelix by White Gypsy BreweryThis strong blonde is all about the Belgian yeast flavours, presenting a reliable amount of banana-ish esters and bittersweet meadow flora.
  • Helvick Gold  by Dungarvan Brewing CompanyThis is a refreshing blonde ale generously hopped to give bitterness and aroma that packs a punch! Our blonde ale is not a bland ale, there is a complexity at play here with a fruity aroma balanced by a hoppiness that makes it a slightly challenging but still quite easy to drink beer.

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