15 Irish Beers You Need To Try

Ireland has a long, rich brewing history dating back some 5,000 years, with ale once being produced and supplied by monasteries across the land. Today, you're more likely to find some of the world's finest breweries scattered across the Emerald Isle, from craft breweries to family-run companies and huge commercial enterprises.

When most people think of Irish beer, Guinness is typically their go-to, in fact, 13 million pints of the dark stuff are consumed annually on St. Patrick's Day. However, there's far more to the wonderful world of Irish beer than Guinness. From imperial stout to red ale, IPA to lager, and Irish cream ale to barrel-aged porter, there's something to suit all tastes in our pick of Irish beers you absolutely need to try. So what are you waiting for? It's time to pour yourself a drink, put your feet up, and enjoy some of the best Irish beers around.

1. Guinness Draught

There's no denying that Guinness Draught is one of the most popular beers in the UK and Ireland. Brewed at the St. James' Gate Brewery in Dublin since 1759 (now part of Diageo), the beer has a rich, dark history and you can learn more about it by taking a tour at the Guinness Storehouse. 

Packed with malty sweetness, Guinness Draught packs in coffee and chocolate notes, with a bitter, hoppy flavor. Its potent taste means it's most definitely not a beer that's for everyone, but if you love a stout or porter, you might want to give it a try. Guinness Draught is only 4.2% ABV, making it one of the lighter-in-alcohol beers on our list, even though it's anything but light in flavor.

Guinness is one of the more popular beers to use in cooking, too. It can be added to your Irish stew, beef stew, or slow-cooker chili, or you can whip up delicious recipes like this Guinness steak and mushroom pie.

2. Kinnegar Brewing Scraggy Bay IPA

Kinnegar Brewing, based in County Donegal, produces a wide range of craft beers in various styles. One of its most popular beers is Scraggy Bay India Pale Ale (IPA).

Crafted with American hops, Scraggy bay is a golden ale with a hoppy bite and is available to purchase all year round. Its sessionable 5.3% ABV and well-balanced flavor ensure it's a go-to IPA for many. 

One reviewer on Beer Advocate commented, "Smells good, lots of sweet tropical fruit flavour, mango, papaya, lot of pineapple, some strawberry, caramel, toffee, dank, some white bread and biscuit malt." Another commenter talked about the look of the beer, saying, "Pale golden, a little cloudy, sparse head which dissipates quickly."

If you enjoy this beer, you might want to try some of Kinnegar's other IPAs, like Black Bucket, a Black Rye IPA that, according to a reviewer on Beer Advocate, boasts "a nice amount of hoppy bitterness with a zingy, peppery finish from the rye." Another one to try is Thumper, a Double IPA that is described by another reviewer as packing "lots of citrus fruit flavors, mainly orange, orange pith, pink grapefruit." 

3. Smithwick's Red Ale

First brewed in Kilkenny, but now crafted in Dublin, Smithwick's Red Ale has a rich history dating back over 300 years. Today, you can tour the brewery to find out more about its heritage.

Smithwick's Red Ale has a deep red color and sweet, malty notes, with a soft bitterness that makes it incredibly drinkable. A reviewer summed up its flavors as "Snappy hop, rich sharp caramel malt, and a nice dryness." 

At 3.8% ABV, it's one of the lighter beers on our list, with another Beer Advocate commenter mentioning how easy it was to drink. This makes it the perfect accompaniment to food or the ideal option to kick off an evening of Irish beer tasting without worrying about consuming too much alcohol. 

As well as its popular red ale, Smithwick's brews a popular golden Pale Ale at 4.5% ABV that has a fresh, grassy flavor, and a Blonde Ale at 4.1% ABV, perfect for those who prefer beer that's on the lighter side.

4. Brehon Brewhouse Shanco Dubh Barrel Aged Porter

Brehon Brewhouse's Shanco Dubh Barrel-Aged Porter is a very special barrel-aged porter brewed in County Monaghan. At 10% ABV, this imperial porter packs a flavorful punch and is one to save for cozy nights by the fire or to enjoy as an after-dinner beer, though it's also delicious with cured meats and strong cheeses.

Breton Brewhouse beers are brewed in the company's microbrewery on its farm, with all beers canned and bottled on-site. A Deep Borewell on the site provides the water needed for brewing, and the brewery sources ingredients from local suppliers and nearby farms.

Shanco Dubh Barrel-Aged Porter has rich flavors of chocolate, licorice, and roasted malt, and it's aged in whisky barrels for a full finish. Brehon Brewhouse also offers Smoke and Mirrors, a whisky-aged porter, Stir Up Sunday, a Christmas pudding stout, and Crann Beatha Imperial Stout, all excellent choices for dark beer enthusiasts. The brewery's lighter beers include a range of IPAs, blondes, and red ales.

5. McGargles Dan's Double IPA

McGargles Dan's Double IPA is brewed by the Rye River Brewing Company in County Kildare. Made with a huge variety of hops, including Mosai, Chinook, Cascade, Columbus, and Centennial, this IPA was the World Beer Awards 2021 Ireland winner and has won a total of 15 awards since its creation. 

This big ABV beer comes in at 8%, but it's big on flavor too, with biscuity malt, sharp grapefruit, and bitter pine notes that might be an acquired taste for those new to IPAs. That said, its bitterness is well-balanced, so although it's not a beer to start off your night with, it's a delicious choice if you're an IPA lover. Some reviewers have noted the beer's nose featured lots of grapefruit and tropical notes.

Rye River Brewing Company opened its doors in 2013, and respect for the environment and the brewing process are key to what makes the brewery tick. With various ranges of beer coming under the company's umbrella, from McGargles to Grafters and Solas, there's a wide selection of beer styles available to suit all tastes.

6. Liberator Irish Lager

For those who prefer a crisp lager to an IPA, Liberator's Irish Lager ticks all the right boxes. The beer has a 4.2% ABV and is a refreshing brew with hints of bitterness and a clean finish. One reviewer described it as "Light, clean and crisp, sessionable, and moderately carbonated with a light bitter finish." This light finish ensures it's an excellent beer to enjoy with food, after work, or even during the hot summer months.

Liberator's Irish Lager is the first brew from Dublin City Brewing Company (DBC) and its name was inspired by Daniel O'Connell – known as the Liberator — who helped liberate Catholics in the early 1800s. The founders, a group of friends, set up the brewery to revive the tradition of brewing in the city, and today their brewery on Parnell Street is Dublin's second-largest, with guided tours available and a taproom offering beer tasting.

Other beers brewed by DBC include the ever-popular Irish Pale Ale, Irish Pilsner, Irish Red Ale, and Irish Stout. With several options available, there's something available to suit all tastes.

7. Five Lamps Pale Ale

Locally brewed, authentic beer is what Dublin's Five Lamps Brewery set out to produce, and its Pale Ale is one of its most popular offerings. Five Lamps opened in 2012 on Dublin's Amiens Street, taking its name from the nearby Five Lamps. 

The lamppost was set at the intersection of five streets, has five branches, and was erected to commemorate Lieutenant General Henry Hall, a soldier in the Bengal Army who hailed from Galway. Originally a drinking fountain built "to encourage sobriety," it might seem rather ironic that this Dublin landmark went on to become the name of a popular brewery.

Five Lamps Pale Ale is a classic pale ale with smooth lager and pale malty flavors, offering a creamy yet light finish. One happy reviewer noted on Beer Advocate, "Light feel. Light malt flavors with some spicy hops." Another commenter discussed the feel of the beer, saying, "Medium body, oily texture, lively carbonation, you see the bubbles coming up all the while." At 4.8% ABV it's a fantastic beer to enjoy on the weekend while watching the game but also pairs well with most food. 

8. Lough Gill Brewery Wild Irish Gose

Sour beers: You either love them or hate them, but for those that love them, Lough Gill Brewery's Wild Irish Gose is one of the best Irish sour beers around. Brewed at the family-run brewery in County Sligo, Northern Ireland, this beer has a unique flavor that you'll either find instantly pleasing or immediately off-putting.

With sharp, sour citrus, a hit of sea salt, and a tart finish, this 4.0 ABV golden ale packs a perfectly-balanced punch. One reviewer on Beer Advocate described its flavors as "Light malt and sour finish of citrus and salty peel. Fresh lemon and coriander aftertaste." With such a full range of flavors, it's best enjoyed on its own. 

Lough Gill also offers a wide range of other beers if Sour Gose isn't your jam, including some limited edition and collab varieties. MacNutty Brown Ale, Shaka Session IPA, and Ben Bulben Irish Chocolate Stout are just a few of the other styles on offer for craft beer enthusiasts.

Lough Gill Brewery was founded in 2016 in the hopes of bringing the tradition of brewing back to Sligo Town. As well as sourcing the very best ingredients around for its beers, the brewery always tries to include locally-sourced ingredients wherever possible. 

9. Sullivan's Maltings Irish Ale

Maltings Irish Ale is a classic ruby ale brewed at Sullivan's Brewing Company in Kilkenny. The brewery prides itself on sourcing ingredients locally, with its beers taking inspiration from recipes of the past. Brewed in small batches, this Irish ale uses three varieties of hops and four malts (including three darker malts), with flavors of rich caramel and biscuit. 

Over on Beer Advocate, one commenter said this beer had flavors of "dark breaded malts, black berry, subtle raspberry, light toffee, subtle dark tea, and balanced herbal hops." Another reviewer mentioned the ale's dry finish and medium mouthfeel. 

Sullivan's Brewing Company has been around for over 300 years, first opening in 1702 and then closing them in the early 1900s. Upon its reopening in 2016, the brewery hired Ian Hamilton, one of Ireland's most acclaimed master brewers with 40 years of industry experience. 

Today, Sullivan's range of beers includes its Black Marble Stout, an Irish dry stout described by one reviewer as packing "tepid caramel and cream flavors that dance playfully on the tongue" and its Irish Gold Ale, a golden ale with 5.2% ABV, brewed with Admiral and First Gold hops.

10. The White Hag Black Boar Imperial Oatmeal Stout

The White Hag Black Boar Imperial Oatmeal Stout isn't a beer for the faint of heart. Taking its name from the Black Boar, a famous beast from Irish history, this imperial stout is packed with dark chocolate and dark fruits, with a hearty roast coffee punch and a creamy, full mouthfeel. At 10.2% ABV this is a special beer for after dinner or cozy nights by the fire, though its flavors are also a good match for a cheese board or a rich dessert. 

The White Hag brewery is based in Ballymote, County Sligo, and is the first brewery in the area in more than 100 years. Founded in 2013, this independent craft brewery takes inspiration from classic beers of the past, putting its own innovative twist on them. Its range includes IPAs, sours, and collabs with other breweries worldwide, as well as a seasonal beers and a number of delicious barrel-aged offerings.

11. Hilden Brewing Co. Headless Dog

Hilden Brewing Company's Headless Dog IPA has earned a worthy place on our list of Irish beers you need to try. This pale amber ale is crafted with Cascade and North Down hops, and packed with delightful hoppy flavors. One reviewer over at Beer Advocate mentioned the beer's mouth feel, commenting that it was "Crisp on the finish and overall smooth." Another commenter described the flavor as "Slightly vinegary and woody."

At 4.2%, Headless Dog IPA is a sessionable ale that's best enjoyed with friends. The packaging has a fun vibe too, with the bottle's quirky headless dog artwork inspired by a painting found on the wall of the old brewery.

Hilden Brewery was the first independent brewery to open in Ireland (40 years ago), and is located in the courtyard of a traditional Irish Linen house in Lisburn. With such a rich history, it's practically mandatory to take a brewery tour should you visit, learning about Hilden House and how its beer is brewed, and finishing with a beer flight and bowl of piping hot Irish stout stew. 

If you're not into IPAs, Hilden Brewing's range also includes its Hilden Halt Irish Red, which a Beer Advocate reviewer described as boasting "Some caramel & biscuit flavours alongside some bread." You might also enjoy the brewery's 4.3% ABV Belfast Blonde or full-bodied Irish Stout.

12. Kilkenny Irish Cream Ale

What could be more classic than Kilkenny Irish Cream Ale? One of Ireland's most loved beers, this red ale has a creamy mouthfeel with a delicious toasted nutty flavor combined with caramel and toffee notes. Take a sniff and you'll also pick up on hints of delicious dark fruit. 

Though today it's brewed at the St. James' Gate Brewery in Dublin, this ale originated in Kilkenny, from where it takes its name. In fact, its roots can be traced back to the 13th-century St. Francis Abbey, later being brewed by Smithwick's, built on the former abbey site in 1710.

This is an excellent beer for those who like a smooth, malty flavor, as there's no hoppy or bitter aftertaste whatsoever. One reviewer even described it as "a temporary respite from hoppy beers." Delicious enjoyed by itself, it's also a good match for grilled meats or cheeses. 

13. Blacks Brewery Kinsale Pale Ale

Blacks Brewery Kinsale Pale Ale is an American-style pale ale made with Citra, Cascade, and Centennial hops that pairs beautifully with a juicy steak, burger, or sausage fresh off the grill. Packed with malty, caramel, and biscuit notes balanced with a tropical, citrus flavor, this 5% ABV pale ale is light and easy to drink.

Established in 2013 in Kinsale, County Cork, Blacks Brewery is family owned and run by Sam and Maudeline Black. Today, the brewery has a core range of seven beers but also releases a number of experimental brews each year. Since 2015, the site has also hosted a distillery producing boutique whisky, rum, and gin — as a bonus, this means beers can be aged in spirit barrels for depth of flavor.

As well as pale ale, Blacks Brewery's core range includes Black IPA, 1601 Lager, and Rocketship IPA. Amongst its seasonal beers, you'll find Cult of the Coconut Stout and World's End Chocolate and Vanilla Imperial Stout, described by one Beer Advocate reviewer as boasting rich flavors of "vanilla, fudge, caramel, treacle, and black bread."

14. Harp Lager

Harp Irish Lager was created in 1959 and originally brewed in Dundalk at the Great Northern Brewery. During its heyday in the mid-20th century, the brewery was the second largest in Ireland. In 2013, it closed and was later taken over by the Great Northern Distillery. Today, Harp Lager is brewed by Guinness Ltd.

This Pilsner lager has a crisp flavor, though you'll also notice light hoppy notes — and it's pleasingly refreshing. One reviewer described its taste as "Mildly wheaty with bright top notes, a sort of lemony freshness and slight bitterness," while another mentioned the beer's nose, commenting on its "Modestly hopped biscuit-like aroma." Its distinctive label with artwork of Ireland's Brian Boru harp ensures it stands out on the store shelf.

A great beer for the warm spring and summer months, Harp Lager's clean finish makes it excellent for enjoying enjoy before dinner or between meals with chips or other snacks. It's also the perfect accompaniment to grilled meats or other BBQ food and a great choice to share with friends.

15. O'Hara's Irish Stout

O'Hara's Irish Stout is an award-winning, classic, dry stout made by Carlow Brewing Company (O'Hara's Brewery), based in the Barrow Valley region of County Carlow. The bitterness of Fuggle hops blends beautifully with rich licorice, espresso notes, and roasted barley to create this deep, black stout with a creamy head.

At 4.3% ABV, this popular stout pairs beautifully with smoked salmon, shellfish, cured meats, and strong cheeses. It would make the perfect addition to a selection of antipasti or an after-dinner cheese board.

Carlow Brewing Company is an independent family-owned brewery that's been in operation since 1996 and first brewed its Irish Stout in 1999. The brewery is Origin Green certified, meaning it's an environmentally-conscious outfit committed to reducing its water and electricity usage while aiming to increase the number of raw materials used from Irish sources.