Every year I travel to Kilkenny with a group of friends to attend the Cat Laughs comedy festival. It has always been a great festival; and add to that some fantastic restaurants and pubs and a good time is had by all.
However, there was always one thing lacking: craft beer. In previous years we have pretty much camped out in The Grapevine as it was the only place I was likely to find craft. Then last year two more venues appeared: Cleeres and The Pumphouse; Both serving a decent range of bottles.
This year the availability was a lot better. Not only have Carlow Brewing opened a craft pub (right beside Cleeres and The Pumphouse) but craft taps have started appearing. And two of the restaurants we visited also had craft on their wine list. Only one minor downside, another venue that had craft bottles for last years Savour festival no longer carried them, so we didn't spend much time there.
So where do you go if you are in Kilkenny and looking for a locally brewed craft beer or cider:
Dylans Whiskey Bar, John Street Lower. Has O'Hara's IPA on tap and a range of bottles. Plus has a serious amount of whiskey. And if that wasn't enough their sister bar next door (Biddy Early's) is a cocktail bar.
Kytelers Inn, St Kieran Street. Named after Alice Kyteler, the famous witch of Kilkenny. They have the full range of O'Hara's bottles and probably one of the best beer gardens in Ireland.
Brewery Corner, Parliament Street. Kilkenny's first all craft bar. Full range of O'Hara's on tap, including the DIPA and the new Helles. A cask engine. Also has Metalman, Howling Gale ale, Dark Arts, Stonewell's cider, Tom Creans, Galway Hooker and Heersbrucker from The Porterhouse- also on tap.
The Grapevine, Rose Inn Street. Still a festival favorite. Has 8 Degrees (including Kindred Spirit when I was there), Dungarvan and Trouble Brewing bottles. Plus seriously good tapas and a great wine list if you fancy a change of pace.
Campagne, The Arches. A great restaurant run by Garret Delahunt and Brid Hannon. Has O'Hara's Irish Red and Dungarvan's Helvic Blonde in bottles. Booking is advised as this place gets very busy.
The restaurant at Zuni's, Patrick Street. This is our traditional Sunday lunch spot. Has Dark Arts, O'Hara's IPA, Tom Creans, Dungarvan's Copper Coast and Highbank Cider in bottles.