My old drinking haunt now has craft beers and they're great

The Harbour Bar is a throwback, but not when it comes to its selection of Irish beer on tap

Harbour Bar, Bray

Harbour Bar, Bray

 

Wander around to the back of the Harbour Bar in Bray and it feels like you’ve stumbled into someone’s private sitting room – from 1972. Decked out in an array of browns and beiges, from the patterned carpet and faded cream wallpaper to the crochet blanket draped on the couch, it’s like you’ve dropped in on an old auntie sitting by the fire.  

The cosy nostalgia of the Good Room, as it’s called, is just one of the many nooks in Bray’s finest drinking hole. Established in 1872, there’s plenty of old-school about the place, from the weekly trad sessions in the bar and the adjoining snug to the clatter of pots, pans and old stuff dangling from the ceilings. You get all ages here, and in the live lounge upstairs, where there are regular comedy and music nights, at the red couches in the conservatory or on the benches outside. Plenty of room for quiet or lively chats – and for avoiding any former schoolteachers.

When it comes to beer at the Harbour, it’s great to see the new generation of Irish brewers claiming their place at the bar. O Brother, based in Kilcoole, Co Wicklow, had two beers on draught on a recent visit, with offerings also from Rascals and Wicklow Wolf.

Nightcrawler, O Brother’s latest beer, is a milk stout that has been nitrogenated to give it a creamy body and head, with very light carbonation. At 4.8 per cent, it’s got a lovely bitter-sweet balance of flavours – dark chocolate and nutty with a smooth finish.

Dreamcatcher is O Brother’s session IPA, which has a tropical fruity hit of hops, a light body and a solid finishing bitterness. I sipped on a glass of it while making my way to the live lounge to watch the Led Zeppelin tribute band, and to check in on the old moose head hanging on the wall. He’s doing fine.

  • @ITbeerista beerista@irishtimes.com
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