But the king of beers is still Guinness. This is where Arthur Guinness began brewing his famous stout in 1759, and to this day, his brewery still occupies several city blocks along the river. A huge exhibit fills the old fermentation plant like a shrine (www.guinness-storehouse.com).
A tall beer-glass-shaped atrium — 14 million pints big — soars past several floors of exhibitions to the Gravity Bar, which gives visitors a commanding 360-degree view of Dublin. Despite competition from other brews, Guinness still rules: When you say “a pint, please” in a Dublin pub, you'll get Guinness.
If you think you don't like Guinness, try it in Ireland. It doesn't travel well and is better in its homeland. Murphy's is a very good Guinness-like stout, but a bit smoother and milder. For a cold, refreshing, basic, American-style beer, ask for a lager, such as Harp. Ale drinkers swear by Smithwick's. Caffrey's is a satisfying cross between stout and ale. Try the draft cider (sweet or dry) ... carefully.
In Ireland good beer comes with good music. For a toe-tapping introduction to “trad,” as traditional music is called, I recommend the Traditional Irish Musical Pub Crawl in Dublin. The group visits three pubs while witty musician-guides explain and demonstrate their instruments, offering travelers an educational foundation for Irish music appreciation (and generally a nice Guinness buzz). After this tour, a night at an Irish pub listening to trad will hold much more meaning.
The atmosphere in an Irish pub is something you won't find elsewhere. When the beer, the music and the convivial spirit of the crowd all come together just right, you feel you know what it is to be Irish — even if it's not St. Patrick's Day.
Rick Steves (www.ricksteves.com) writes European travel guidebooks and hosts travel shows on public television and public radio. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow his blog on Facebook.
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