The challenges of choosing a good pub

Galway’s Salt House bar is a good choice – with a great beer selection

 

Going to the pub at the weekend usually involves a few small challenges. Navigating through a big crowd with an armful of drinks. Making way for people constantly squeezing by to get to the toilets. Waiting for ages to get the eye of the barman to order.

If do you find a decent spot, often there’s nowhere to put your jacket so you hold it under your arm, stuff it in a corner somewhere, or just keep it on, slowly overheating over the course of your pint, or until you decide to go somewhere else.  

And that’s the thing, pubs are a bit like train stations, people coming and going and most of the time on the way somewhere else or not really sure how long they want to stay  – particularly if there’s no seats free.  

I was in the Salt House in Galway, recently, deciding what to order – while taking off my coat, bag, closing up an umbrella – when I discovered the coat hooks under the lip of the bar.  It’s the small details, sometimes, that make a good pub into a particularly good one – and make you want to go back. The other elements have to be right too, of course – a good crowd, music not too loud, no TV blasting in the corner – and a quality selection of beer.

On the night, I recommended a Galway Bay Althea for a friend (a great, easy-going American Pale ale which is perfect to start an evening with); and tried Yellow Belly’s  Blackberry Berliner Weisse. This is a lovely deep pink colour, and has a good tartness and a smooth finish from the cask. I also enjoyed a glass of Godspeed, Galway Bay’s very refreshing 5.5 per cent apricot sour beer – and got a seat at the bar.

@ITbeerista beerista@irishtimes.com

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