The “Holy Trinity” of gold, red, and black ales has long defined Irish beer, says Sara Breitenfeldt, a founding member of the Beer Ireland trade group. In the U.S. that’s the Harp (gold), Smithwick’s (red), and Guinness (black), served at every cookie-cutter pub. But in the last few years, dozens of small craft brewers have opened shop across the emerald isle.
The 2008 recession in Ireland jumpstarted the movement, says Breitenfeldt. “And in the past 18 months, the number of Irish craft beer brands has tripled.” These new brewers still embrace that traditional trio — making far superior beers in the process. But they’ve also greatly expanded the spectrum of offerings, producing excellent American, Belgian, German, and English styles.
The reach for most of Ireland’s craft brewers, however, remains small enough that you have to visit an operation’s city or county to try it. Here are seven of the best towns in Ireland to stop for a local craft beer, along with our favorite in each county or town.