Weirdo Guide to Dublin Pubs: Underdog 3.0

Outside the (new) UnderdogAnd…it’s back!

Yes, as of this very week, The Underdog has been reborn again, and all 20 taps are now present and accounted for at the top of Capel Street. Happily, the iconic yellow neon sign is also now in place above the door, offering that extra little level of comfort and security. In the new spot – the former Galway Bay joints Taco Libre and Paddle & Peel – it’s now a dangerously-convenient walk from my house, and as I’d missed the opening night with some last-minute work travel (and then a nightmarish extra night away in Amsterdam, a city I would like to visit on purpose some day, but whose airport did not impress in any way), I had to stop in for a quick beer as I was walking past anyway mid-week.

At the bar in the new UnderdogAs it was the summer solstice, and I was on my way to see the 50th anniversary screening of The Wicker Man as per the custom of my people, it was especially appropriate to try a beer from Verdant on my way. While I still have yet to find their Weird Walk collaboration beer, Ritual, I did very much enjoy The First Note. And I *wish* I could make it to the brewery in Cornwall for their Leyline event, which features all sorts of folk horror-adjacent oddness, but well – this had to do (and it did it beautifully).

Back room at the new UnderdogBut back to the new Underdog – what’s it like? Well, it’s brighter and fresher than either previous incarnation – not difficult, no longer being in a cellar or in a dark, dark room – and it feels like there’s more space to spread out, with a variety of seating types, from barstools and solo tables to some more communal spots in the main rooms. The taps are still displayed on the screens above the bar, with another set of screens in the back room; very handy for planning that second drink without having to take up valuable bar space thinking. But as before, Paddy and team can be relied on to give top-notch recommendations, and there’s an extensive bottle and can selection in addition to the fresh taps.

Cask is comingWhat there is not – yet – is cask, but the cask sign is in place, and ready for the two handpumps that will be appearing in the not-too-distant future (I’ve been promised this, no one would lie to me about cask ale). Food is also not an option just at present, but there are plans to add some bites later in the summer if all goes well. But with so many food options on Capel Street, there is plenty of opportunity to stay well-fed.

As before, the digital taplist seen in the bar is available online as well, so you can easily do some advance planning. It’s also worth keeping an eye on the socials for events like tap takeovers and general ‘hey, look what we just tapped’ updates. And for a bit of a sense of that taplist, it’s still the most diverse in Dublin – an ever-changing mix of strengths and styles, with beers from near and far – everything from a straightforward Irish stout (the Whiplash one, not the Other One) to a Lapsang Souchong-infused lambic from Belgium. Sure, there are lots of hazebois from all over at the moment, but it’s what people are asking for, so that’s understandable (and they tend to be the actually good ones), and things are always rotating.

I am very much not mad about the new location being so conveniently located for me – just far enough away to feel like I’ve had a bit of a walk, but close enough to simply drop in on a whim. All hail Underdog, thrice-born of its kind!

Where: Underdog, 199 King St N, Rotunda, Dublin 1, D07 PR5X (essentially, the top of Capel Street)
Access from the city centre: Buses 1, 11, 16, 44, 46A, 155, Luas Green Line, 15-20 minute walk
Food: Patience
Sport: No
TVs: Also no
Music: Always a great indie soundtrack on the speakers
Family-friendliness: There are some outdoor tables if you need to stop off with your kids on the way to Penneys
Pub-crawl-ability: High – The Black Sheep, The King’s Inn, Bonobo, Bar 1661, The Church, Slattery’s…and many more – not too far to L Mulligan. Grocer
Local sites of note: National Leprechaun Museum, Wolfe Tone Square, 14 Henrietta Street, King’s Inns, Smyth’s Toy Superstore is a must-visit, per my smaller child
Haunted: I’ve heard the site is mildly cursed, but hope that has been resolved
Other notes: An incredibly speedy turn-around – last pints poured at the old location in April, first ones poured here in mid-June

Weirdo Guide to Dublin Pubs: Cassidys

I must admit, the immediate vicinity of this week’s pub is something I typically speed through as quickly as possibly – the visual clutter from its side of Westmoreland Street is not the most inviting vista, featuring, as it does, the National Wax Museum (NATIONAL WAX MUSEUM), lots of plastic major-brand logos, and CCT Dublin’s building in that block must be one of the worst insults to architecture in any European capital (and I have a soft spot for a lot of ‘ugly’ kinda-Brutalist buildings, but this…is not that). The other side is no better, with a KFC, Kingdom of Sweets, various shops selling tourist tat and TGI Fridays all taking up just slightly too much space in their tired-looking mostly-19th century buildings, some very much in need of a bit of kind restoration.

The bar at CassidysAnd yet, walk a few blocks in most directions, and you’re back in ‘tourist’ Dublin, with (slightly) cleaner streets, and Trinity College and the Central Bank/Parliament buildings just steps away – even nearby Temple Bar tends to look tidy compared to this particular section of road. And while I’d been curious about the nerdy art outside Cassidys – yes, finally, we’ve come to the pub itself – it’s only open in the evenings, and as a Tired Person who doesn’t tend to go out very late, I’d never had the chance to stop in – and, frankly, being-targeted-by-Star-Wars-art notwithstanding, I didn’t expect much from this spot – but that all changed, thanks to the hot weather that doesn’t seem to be ending.

Waxy candles at CassidysI had an event at the National Library of Ireland, and happened to be walking home past Cassidys as it was opening – and, as wearing adult clothes and walking to and from the Library had happened at the hottest part of the day, I thought I’d break up the trip home and grab something low-key to cool off; I’d heard they had a craft tap or two, so surely, I could find a refreshing Ambush or something along those lines. I was more than a little pleasantly surprised to discover that this was not a case of a few local beers, but what could nearly map onto a good bar in Brooklyn or Philly in terms of selection – local beers were represented by the likes of Rye River, Trouble, Rascals, Barrelhead, Crafty Bear and The White Hag – and not always with the most commonly-spotted beers, either. UK craft came in the form of Thornbridge, with the US represented by craft and crafty options: Cigar City, Blue Moon, Stone and Lagunitas (feel free to judge some as you prefer). There was also plenty of normal-person beer – Guinness, of course, but also Estrella, Murphy’s and Erdinger, plus a few others – and that’s before mentioning the cans.

FEELING SEENAdd in the mix of gothy-meets-nerdy dive bar décor – drippy red candles, dark wood, Star Wars art (again – I realize I am being Personally Targeted), beer and beer-adjacent stickers everywhere – and I immediately felt at home – indeed, I was annoyed with myself for not having known just what was hidden away in this otherwise-best-avoided block of Dublin. Granted, there was also a slight sense in the air that the bar staff here had ‘seen things’ – indeed, they had to remove someone only shortly after opening, but it was all handled swiftly and as politely as possible, before it became a bigger problem – I’ve mentioned it before, but I am always thoroughly impressed by how well Dublin bar staff can defuse a situation before it becomes a larger issue; I’ve not seen it done nearly as well anywhere else I’ve lived – there’s probably a larger lesson of some sort there.

They don’t seem to update any social media or websites at a useful cadence, so perhaps that’s why they had not really been on my radar; IYKYK, I suppose. Well, now you know, and knowing, as I’m sure you’re aware, is half the battle…

Where: Cassidys, 27 Westmoreland St, Dublin, D02 PX77
Access from the city centre: You are in it
Food: Pizza, apparently
Sport: Not a priority
TVs: Didn’t see any
Music: Bit of a would-be metal-bar vibe, but plenty of indie faves mixed in
Family-friendliness: Let’s not
Pub-crawl-ability: High – The Palace Bar is a short walk, JR Mahon’s, Piper’s Corner, The Flowing Tide and many more are nearby; there’s also Temple Bar, top, but you know how to manage that
Local sites of note: Trinity College, NATIONAL WAX MUSEUM, Ha'Penny Bridge, GPO, Abbey Theatre
Haunted: I sense something…a presence I’ve not felt since…
Other notes: Handy whiteboard with wifi details, beer specials and events near the front – also, plenty of cans; not to be confused with the other Cassidys in D2

Weirdo Guide to Dublin Pubs: The Beer Temple

Inside The Beer TempleThis week, we are back to a Galway Bay pub – The Beer Temple. Opened in late 2021, it is the bright, Shiny and Chrome conjoined sibling to The Oak, whose dark wood and deep colours we’ve discussed previously. Somewhat ironically, as it’s very much a Craft Beer with a capital Craft pub, you can get a Guinness here – whereas the Guinness Enthusiast story took place mere steps away in The Oak. But given its city centre location, right on the tourist trail, you do get Guinness Amateurs: on more than one occasion, I’ve seen customers take their 3/4 filled pints and begin to walk off, and the patient barstaff have to call them back to tell them that no, they will get full pints, it’s just going to take a moment. While I can’t personally imagine walking off with a partially-filled glass I’d paid something in the neighbourhood of €7 for (still cheaper than many, if not most, pints around Temple Bar), perhaps it’s a tradition somewhere.

The tapsI’m drawn to The Beer Temple because they typically have a very interesting list of guest beers from other Irish breweries like Third Barrel, Lineman and Boundary, as well as some of the more unusual Galway Bay beers; my current obsession is I Hear You Like IPA, their cold IPA (is it a ‘real’ style? don't at me, it’s tasty). However, my most recent visit this past weekend was Purely Medicinal – I was incredibly thirsty after running 10K in the VHI Women’s Mini Marathon, in unusual-for-Ireland heat and sun, and desperately needed something isotonic and food so pairing a BRÚ IPA (plus a lot of VitHit Hydrate) with some halloumi fries was the order of the day.

Post-race refreshmentAgain, given its city centre location, The Beer Temple does get a lot of tourists, but quite frequently they are there specifically to find new-to-them beers, and on this visit, I ended up in a lovely chat with a few of them, offering tips on other places to go and beers to try, and I also got some great suggestions for their cities in return. I always advise they make sure not to skip The Oak, given that it’s literally on the other side of the wall, and that they can order from either bar, but it seems many do not notice it’s there, despite the two bars sharing a staircase and toilets – so this is part of my justification for having two separate entries – not just do the pubs have different VIBES, but they do seem to end up with different customers. Indeed, I do find I am usually visiting one or the other, rather than both, depending on what I’m in the mood for or what has brought me to this part of town.

And while all 18 taps may not always be on, I love the blackboard above the bar, listing out each beer – it’s a cliché I am always here for, even if Dave and Barbara aren’t necessarily the ones to refer me to it…

Where: The Beer Temple, 1-3 Parliament St, Temple Bar, Dublin 2, D02 AN28
Access from the city centre: You are in it – nearly everything touristy is within a 5-10 minute walk
Food: Usual Galway Bay menu
Sport: Not so much
TVs: Nope
Music: Always plenty of bangers on the speakers
Family-friendliness: All Galway Bay pubs are pretty family-friendly, but I would usually head to The Oak if in town with the smaller one
Pub-crawl-ability: High – Temple Bar is right there if you enjoy watching money disappear, or hit up The Lord Edward, The Bull & Castle, The Brazen Head or simply walk through to the other side
Local sites of note: Olympia Theatre, Dublin Castle, Dublin City Hall, Chester Beatty Library, Christ Church Cathedral, Dublinia
Haunted: Did the renovation unearth any ghosts? Or are they all up the road at The Lord Edward?
Other notes: Don’t be like me and forget there’s often a Dungarvan tap on The Oak side

Weirdo Guide to Dublin Pubs: The Flowing Tide

Outside The Flowing TideWe’re sticking near the city centre in the series this week, though on the Correct Side of the river, with The Flowing Tide. While likely best known as a theatrical pub – it’s right across from the Abbey Theatre, and has been associated with actors, writers and other ne’er-do-wells since the early 20th century – there’s a lot of other history to this spot, too. It’s been a pub since the 1820s, and, as reported by the Irish Times, was even hit by an artillery shell meant for the nearby GPO during the Easter Rising in 1916. And back in 1907, it was one of the scenes of the Playboy of the Western World Riots, as angry crowds spilled out of the Abbey Theatre; give the Three Castles Burning episode on the topic a listen, it’s fascinating stuff. So, for a theatre nerd like me, this is an ideal spot to stop pre-show, but it’s also pleasant to simply wander in on a Sunday afternoon for a quiet pint. Indeed, the last time I did just that, I ran into an older gentleman from my neighbourhood who does it on a weekly basis – it’s his standing trip away from his/my usual haunts, and we had a lovely chat about it, and about which of our closer-to-home locals we most enjoy for different occasions.

One of the snugs at The Flowing TideAlthough the pub closed last summer, it re-opened, now under the same ownership as The King’s Inn, another Northside pub, after only a few months of well-considered renovation – it was, to be fair, looking a little rough beforehand. Now, as in the nearby Palace Bar, the stained glass is very much a focus, the theatrical posters are thoughtfully distributed around the walls – and the snugs are especially inviting.

As mentioned, I do love a good theatrical pub; The Harp in Covent Garden fills a somewhat similar niche, albeit on a larger scale, catering to theatre-goers, performers, tourists and locals alike (but with good cask options as well – you knew I’d have to bring that up). And while there’s no cask in The Flowing Tide, there is a broader-than-you-might-expect tap list, with Irish craft stalwarts Scraggy Bay and Ambush, as well as Beamish for the Corkonian stout enthusiast. You’re more likely to run into That Person who insists that Beamish is better than Guinness, versus the Guinness Enthusiast, but both are well catered for, as are whiskey fans.

Inside The Flowing TideAnd as for the pub’s name, I’m partial to both the Shirley Collins and Eliza Carthy versions of Just As The Tide Was Flowing (Roud 1105), although the probably-correct local lore says it’s simply down to its proximity to the Liffey rather than being named after the song. And while the music here isn’t always trad, but it does tend to (understandably) be more Irish than English folk, but every time I walk by (or stop in), the song gets stuck in my head. Normal folk music nerd problems…

Where: The Flowing Tide, 9 Lower Middle Abbey St, North City, Dublin
Access from the city centre: You are just north of it; the Luas Red Line is directly outside (Abbey Street stop)
Food: Toasties
Sport: While it’s a theatrical pub, it does draw pre- and post-GAA crowds on match days and there are screens
TVs: More downstairs, though there’s a big screen on big GAA/rugby days
Music: Lots of different acts downstairs, quiet enough to talk upstairs
Family-friendliness: Everyone seems welcome, but there isn’t a huge amount for non-theatrical kids to do
Pub-crawl-ability: High – Temple Bar if you are a masochist, but other, better options within a short walk include The Palace Bar, Piper’s Corner, Bowes, Mulligan’s and The Confession Box; also near The Silver Penny if you need a ‘Spoons
Local sites of note: Abbey Theatre, Gate Theatre, The Spire, NATIONAL WAX MUSEUM, GPO, Ha’Penny Bridge, Trinity College
Haunted: Surely, there’s an imprint of the Playboy Riots? Synge would be a fun ghost, but there’s so much scope for other theatrical ghosts (the best kind, obvs)
Other notes: The Neptune Lounge in the basement is also re-opened and has many screens for sports events and there is live music