Barfly: the Salthouse, Raven Terrace, Galway

This friendly craft-beer palace is a refuge for those tired of the same old tastes

The Salthouse: a craft-beer palace, 90 seconds from the bottom of Shop Street

The Salthouse: a craft-beer palace, 90 seconds from the bottom of Shop Street

 

I have a new hero in Galway.

After many happy hours reacquainting myself with the wonderful pubs around Shop Street, taking in the fabled Tigh Neachtain’s, Garavans, the Dew Drop Inn, and everything in between, I pressed locals to nominate just one city-centre pub that I shouldn’t miss.

The Salthouse kept bubbling to the top.

A craft-beer palace, 90 seconds from the bottom of Shop Street and across the bridge to the banks of the Claddagh river, it’s been holding court since 2008. With up to 25 beers on tap and 150 in bottle, it’s a refuge for those tired of the same old tastes.

There isn’t a snug in sight, and I love that people talk with nostalgia about sitting by the open fire on cold evenings when it has possibly the smallest fireplace in all of Galway (although the brick surround is huge). I love that it offers live bluegrass when the rest of town is pushing trad, and I love that Irish people come in sheepishly admitting that they need a beer education, while Americans and Canadians talk flavour with a fluency that puts our supposed beer heritage to shame.

And what a friendly place: the barman who served me, Dundalk man Barry Englishby, is heading overseas soon, but I miss him already, and the regulars will too. Like all the staff here, I’m told, he’s knowledgeable and loves his job. He talks of the crowds spilling out the door, the music on the street, the great days and nights he’s spent there, and the excitement of seeing people get hooked on the craft-beer scene.

The Salthouse, one of 10 pubs owned by Galway Bay Brewery – three in Galway and seven in Dublin – is fighting hard to liberate its own slice of the Irish beer market, and, luckily for us, I think it’s winning.

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