The Porterhouse

April 10, 2009

The Porterhouse is Ireland’s only microbrewery of note. (Contrary to popular belief, the Irish have incredibly limited beer options, and they consume mainly Guinness with occasional doses of Smithwick’s and Carlsberg. They keep Budweiser on tap for American tourists, and regard Corona as a sort of goofy fun novelty which they’ll import a crate at a time, again, for the American tourists.) Soldier on, Porterhouse. May craft brew thrive one day in Ireland. Until then, you hold down the fort with the only non-pretentious, legitimately homespun establishment in the Temple Bar.

Due to being in a neighborhood packed with students and aspiring artists, the wait staff at the Porterhouse are ridiculously attractive people in their early 20’s. Although the place is usually crowded, service tends to be prompt and courteous although unfortunately nobody there seems to know anything about the beer other than it is brewed on premises. Don’t expect the servers to have the beerducation that a typical Northern California brewpub employee will have. However, Beer Buffs can glean the essentials from the informative menu.

The Porterhouse occupies a killer location in the Temple Bar and is surrounded by shops, restaurants, and other watering holes that suffer from being overpriced, pretentious, and sometimes downright shabby. Some restaurants are cramped and poorly lit, and many of the hotels are just the same old run-down 19th century buildings with a new coat of paint. The Porterhouse, by contrast, has an interesting open, multi-level plan that combines the look of a converted warehouse with Craftsman style. The most interesting architectural feature is the stage, suspended above the second floor and easily visible from all levels. Should you get the chance to visit, be sure to drop by on a Sunday to see Sliotar, the pub’s house band.

Unsurprisingly, the best beers at The Porterhouse were the two porters we tried — Their regular porter that’s always on tap and a seasonal chocolate porter that was probably manufactured from Leprechaun blood and rainbows. Some of their other selections are dull and watery, such as the Bitter, and others are interesting experiments but don’t belong on a permanent tap, such as their oyster flavored ale– yes, I said oyster flavored.

The food is great, the atmosphere is lively, and if you can get past the slightly pretentious air put off by the wait staff, it’s a fantastic place to have a great pint, hear first-rate live music, and enjoy a meal.