This was sitting in the "draft" folder for about 6 weeks now. Sorry about that.
I would say the craft beer movement in Ireland is about 10-15 years behind the US. There are a number of good small breweries brewing tasty beers, other than some of the Porterhouse beers they are pretty standard offerings. By and large the darker beers were more interesting, so my two cents worth of advice to Irish brewers would push the envelope on darker beers.
One problem I mentioned in my posts as there are more places that serve decent beer then are beers to be served. So you see the same beers at all the good beer bars. As the number of breweries increase and they expand their range I'm sure this will change.
The other way the Irish beer scene reminds me of the US of a few years ago (and even today in some places) is the prevalence of "international" beers in the typical tap list. If you were someplace in the US without much of a local craft beer tradition, if you wanted a decent beer you'd look for either an ex-pat British pub or a German restaurant. You see this more in the older pubs whose first steps into serving beer different than the typical pub was in Belgian and German (mostly) beers.
The big problem is the "Big G" -- it seems if you don't drink Guinness you are considered un-patriotic. One local pointed out, not only is the owner of Guinness (Diageo) is a large multinational company headquartered in London, there weren't many historical Irish clan chiefs named "Arthur." There is hope, though. I have relatives in St. Louis and they were as loyal to Anheuser-Busch as any Irishman to Guinness -- until the merger with ImBev. Now it is just a large multinational like any other and they are more open to trying other beers.
One positive thing was that US craft beer was very well received. I've often mentioned to my friends in Bamberg how lucky they were to live there and to be able to drink Bamberg beer every day. I had somebody here say how lucky I was to live in California and drink those marvelous West Coast beers all the time. First time that that has happened to me. The grass is always greener, I guess.
So I wouldn't rank Ireland as a "beer destination" just yet. But if you have other reasons to go, you certainly won't lack for a decent beer, but you might have to work a bit if you are outside the major urban centers.
Back in Bamberg
5 weeks ago