Monday 23 April 2018

Barfly: Year round beerfest at German booze barn

Perfect pints: The Bull and Castle have a colourful range of beers on offer
Perfect pints: The Bull and Castle have a colourful range of beers on offer
Ed Power

Ed Power

The Beer Hall, Bull and Castle, Dublin 5-7 Lord Edward Street,

01 4751122

So you want to enjoy the tankard clinking, Pilsner-swilling fun of a Munich Beer Hall without the trouble and expense of having to go to Bavaria?

Fortunately, several possible solutions present themselves. You could send away for a novelty pair of thigh slapping lederhosen or 'German Beer Girl' outfit (yours for 70 quid on Amazon). Failing that, you might just throw on that Werner Herzog box set you've been meaning to watch and settle in front of the TV in your freshly pressed 1860 Munich away jersey (everyone knows only glory hunters support Bayern).

Or ... you may wish to consider swinging by the upstairs booze barn at Bull and Castle for an evening which probably comes as close to replicating a southern Germany drinking experience as is possible in Dublin (yes, we are aware of the Oktoberfest tent at the Docklands but that's strictly seasonal).

Actually it's hard to know exactly where The Beer Hall fits in the capital's pub-scape. Open seven years and with a loyal clientele, the Bull and Castle has never quite imprinted itself on the Dublin craft brew scene in the same way as, say, the much newer Against The Grain et al. That's despite a selection of homegrown concoctions that are arguably the most impressive in the city: they do an in-house golden ale which is genuinely a snip at €4 plus the stonkingly delicious Five Lamps Lager (it's so nice we have used the word 'stonking' in a non-ironic sense).

Also – and here's something other specialist beer houses could learn from – the bar area is vast. On a recent evening, Barfly and a fellow hack had arranged to meet and spent literally 10 minutes wandering about forlornly trying to bump into each other. There are so many crannies and perches, tables and pews that, if you have just entered via the creaking stairs from the ground floor it can, in a good sense, be overwhelming.

On top of all that – and without wishing to come across as a gushing ninny – how encouraging to find yourself in an Irish watering hole that makes a decent fist of the sports bar concept. Two reasonably large flat-screens are in discreet corners, the volume at a level where, if you really want to hear you can; if not, then you are able to chat away uninterrupted. Plus, no matter where you sit, a TV is within eye-shot (no need crane your neck).

It's all good then? Well ... it's all goodish. When we requested one of the special offer beers of the evening (yours for just €4) the barman informed us he was out of stock and suggested an alternative.

Alas, the Plan B turned out be a less cheap and cheerful €5.20 and while it was our fault for not checking, it would have been nice if he could have steered us towards another of the same price (there were four on offer that evening according to a poster downstairs). But hey, it was Barfly's fault for not being more assertive rather than any poor faith on his behalf.

At the bar queue as in life, nice people finish last.

Bling factor

More Jay-Z than Kanye... the Beer Hall brings the shiny, for sure – but it's mostly brass fixtures, big communal tables and lots and lots of varnished wood. In fact, you could argue that all the browns and beiges are ultimately a bit wearying. Could do with a little contrast to lighten it up.

Toilets

Based on our experience, German toilets tend to be terrifyingly utilitarian but the Beer Hall has decided not to take the theme pub angle TOO far and what you get here is firmly old school.

Service

We saw lounge staff delivering beers to tables though we were not approached by any. The barman wasn't rushing about manically, which meant that the pints were perfectly poured. He also spent nearly a minute removing a wedge of foam from the top of our lager and then filling again.

Drinks

Fantastic – all of your favourite local brews, plus a few you may not have heard of. The result: a thigh slapping good time.

More Jay-Z than Kanye... the Beer Hall brings the shiny, for sure – but it's mostly brass fixtures, big communal tables and lots and lots of varnished wood. In fact, you could argue that all the browns and beiges are ultimately a bit wearying. Could do with a little contrast to lighten it up.

Irish Independent

Life Newsletter

Our digest of the week's juiciest lifestyle titbits.

Editors Choice

Also in Life