Alcohol is very expensive in the republic. Pints of Guinness start at â¬3.60 per pint, can get as high as â¬7.50 in Dublin, and does not become less expensive until you reach Northern Ireland. While in the North, pints of Guinness instantly become cheaper by â¬1.50 euro on average. Ireland is the home of some of the world's greatest whiskey, having a rich tradition going back hundreds if not thousands of years. With around fifty popular brands today these are exported around the world and symbolise everything that is pure about Ireland and where a visit to an Irish distillery is considered very worthwhile.
Another one of Ireland's most famous exports is stout, a dark, dry beer. The strong taste can be initially off-putting but perseverance is well-rewarded! The most famous variety is Guinness, brewed in Dublin and available throughout the country. Murphy's and Beamish stout are brewed in Cork and available mainly in the south of the country. Murphy's is slightly sweeter and creamier-tasting than Guinness, while Beamish has a strong, almost burnt taste. Several micro-breweries are now producing their own interesting varieties of stout, including O'Hara's in Carlow, the Porter House in Dublin and the Franciscan Well Brewery in Cork. Ales such as Smithwick's are also popular, particularly in rural areas. Bulmers Cider known outside the Republic as 'Magners Cider' is also a popular and widely available Irish drink. It is brewed in Clonmel, Co. Tipperary.
Nearly all the pubs in Ireland are 'free houses', i.e. they can sell drink from any brewery and are not tied to one brewery unlike the UK. You can get the same brands of drink in all pubs in Ireland across the country.
There are a small number of 'microbreweries' in Ireland, pubs which brew their own speciality drinks. They are a recent occurrence and can mostly be found in Dublin.
Despite the sometimes negative reputation about Irish people loving their drink, most pubs in Ireland will have the same small collection of drinks.
All pubs and nightclubs in Ireland by law have to close by a certain time, depending on venue and the day. This varies from 11:30pm to 1:30am, to 3:30am. The owners will flash the lights or less commonly sometimes ring a bell to signal that it is almost 'closing time', this is 'last orders' and is your last chance to get a drink. When the pub or club wants to close, they will frequently turn on all the lights as a signal for people to finish up and leave.
It is important to note that it is illegal to smoke in all pubs and indeed places of work in Ireland. Many pubs and restaurants have provided 'smoking areas' outside their premises where space has allowed them to.
The other competitor for national drink of Ireland is tea. The Irish drink more tea per capita than any other people in the world. Cork, Dublin and Galway abound with slick, stylish coffee bars, but if you visit any Irish home you will probably be offered a cup of tea usually served with milk, unless you explicitly state otherwise!.Coffee is also widely drunk in Ireland. If you don't drink tea, you drink coffee!