Weirdo Guide to Dublin Pubs: Caribou

A glass of beer, a candle and a cocktail menu at Caribou

After a bit of an unplanned break, we are back, and this week, we are heading into the city centre to check out Caribou – the new bar from the Animal Collective folk that has recently opened in the former P Mac’s spot. The recent spate of Galway Bay pub closures/rebrandings, including Against the Grain and BRÚ House Fairview (now The Strand House) has not boded well for Dublin-based craft beer fans; most of the re-opened pubs have had zero or, at best, one craft tap remaining; the shift from The Beer Market to The Christchurch Inn is – so far – the only relaunch bucking that apparent trend.

While P Mac’s was not part of the Galway Bay family – its sister pubs include Cassidys and Blackbird (the other P Mac’s in Dundrum closed a bit ago), and the family resemblance was best seen through the dark spaces and drippy, red candles – it was always a spot with a nice selection of Irish craft beer, and when its closured was announced, I know I was not the only person concerned that it might be relaunched as a Fake Oirish Pub, with all macro beer and diddly-eye music for tourists, especially given its location, a short walk from St Stephen’s Green. Fortunately for us beer nerds, Caribou has us covered, with a nice selection of Irish craft beer, plus some international choices – and there are plenty of standard offerings for The Normals, too, as well as some very interesting cocktails. There is also an impressive array of alcohol-free cans and mocktails that is worth noting.

The bar at CaribouThis is no surprise, though, as the other pubs in the group have always supported independent beer; we’ve covered Bonobo before (though wouldn’t it be improved by more housing nearby, instead of a vacant site? Well, that’s another story we won’t get into here), and Impala in Cork is lovely. I have yet to make it to Kodiak in Rathmines, but I had been past the OG Caribou in Galway and knew they had a good selection as well. Rather than find a new animal, the Caribou name has been transplanted to Dublin after the closure of the Galway spot, and very pleasant it is, too.

For anyone familiar with P Mac’s and its rather cavernous feel (not a bad thing, by my reckoning), the new look and feel at Caribou is light and airy, yet in discussions with the excellent staff, they said that not much had been done to the place, structurally. The removal of a snug near the front has opened up some windows that I would never have noticed before, and the new colour palette – lots of white, faded blues and mid-century modern wood – gives it an entirely different feel. And while the old red candles are gone, they have been replaced with white pillar candles – perhaps a nod to the old space? I am obliged to credit my fellow Beer Lady Katie Malone with this idea – and it’s a good one!

In the back at Caribou - couch, table and lamp

All told, it’s not terribly dissimilar to Bonobo in ambiance, and there are still some cosier spots toward the back for a more relaxed conversation – the absence of the front snug is no cause for concern, and I say this as someone who loves a good snug. I suspect it’s a trickier balance to get right than it might appear at first glance – there’s a difference between simply throwing together some charity shop furniture and hoping it gives off hipster vibes, versus having a more intentionally-designed space and aesthetic. There is another pub I won’t mention by name that seems to have attempted a similar ‘vibe’ and missed the mark; it ends up feeling rather impersonal and slightly chaotic (though the less-than-stellar service hasn’t helped with that). A lot of the warmth and welcome at Caribou does come from the staff, so they’ve done well in that regard, and my suspicion is that this is what cements that feel of the place. Even with a brand-new (brand-new retro?) facelift, it feels authentic in a way that some pubs and bars attempting to play in this space simply do not.

And given Caribou’s location, just around the corner from St Stephen’s News – Craft Central for Those In The Know – there’s no excuse not to have some great craft beer options, and a well-trained staff who know their stuff, so it’s great to see that tradition continue in this location. The red candles may have gone, and I did very much enjoy them, but I can still go to Cassidys for that vibe, but the new chilled-out feel that Caribou brings is most welcome in this part of Dublin.

Where: Caribou, 30 Stephen Street Lower, Dublin 2, D02 XY61
Access from the city centre: You are in it
Food: Only a drinks spot at present
Sport: Less sport, more chat
TVs: No obvious sign
Music: Bit of jazz, bit of indie
Family-friendliness: A more grown-up (or, at least, Elder Gen Z+) vibe
Pub-crawl-ability: High – The Hairy Lemon, Bar Rua, The Long Hall, Grogan’s, Peter’s Pub, Sinnot’s Bar and more are all within a brief stroll – and there are many more beyond
Local sites of note: St Stephen’s Green, Gaiety Theatre, Craft Central (absolutely a landmark for the beer nerds), Little Museum of Dublin, George’s Street Arcade
Haunted: There was that definitely-real incident with the hot dog ghost
Other notes: An ideal spot for a book and a pint
Socials: Instagram

3 thoughts on “Weirdo Guide to Dublin Pubs: Caribou”

  1. A bit off your patch, but The 108 is another ex-GBB pub that has retained a decent beer selection. Same management as The Christchurch Inn.

    Kodiak is well worth a visit. The big airy atrium at the back is a lovely space.


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