The Brew dock is one of Dublin's latest craft beer destinations. Building on the format that has worked so well, the Galway based Cottage group have turned the former Kate's Cottage opposite Busaras and across the road from Connelly station and turned it from what I can only imagine was a pub for locals in a somewhat dodgy area. By day it's perfectly safe but Amiens street, which the brew dock is on the corner of, has a less than rosy reputation at night. That probably explains the rather large man who stands at the door looking like he will deny entry as it's a private bar. By all accounts, Kate's was famous for a good pint of Guinness but you won't find that particular beverage in this new incarnation.
Instead you will find 21 taps plus a hand pump for cask. There is also an extensive bottle list giving us about 100 different beers almost all of which is either craft or at least pretty decent macro stuff.
Both times I have been in, I have witnessed the expected. People coming in looking for Guinness, Carlsberg, Miller and the usual swill they have been force fed for decades. They can usually be appeased with Dark Arts, Fischer, Grolsch and so on. They tend to stay away from the exciting stuff like 5am Saint, Punk IPA, Galway Hooker and so on. There is just too many to list. An let's not forget the Galway Bay Brewery based in the Oslo brewpub in Salthill.
TheBeerNut recently mentioned the new Full Sail pale ale. I had this shortly after the pub opened but never got around to writing about the place. Since I was just there today I thought there is no better time to get typing. Anyway the best thing I can say about Full Sail is that, well it's nice. It's inoffensive and very sessionable. I imagine it's what they are going for and in that sense they have succeeded. It's just yet another Irish brewery doing a pale ale that sort of limps behind it's imported counterparts in terms of hop content. It seemed a bit more English than American to me. I prefer the American pale ales myself but there are some cracking English pale ales out there like White Shield.
I think we need to put this in context and head office should take note of the following. And this does not reflect on the brew dock at all, this is for the brewery to take note.
The price of beer in the Brew dock is not cheap. It's €5 so I would say average or perhaps a little over, I'm not sure to be honest but basing it on €4 for Messrs Maguires beers and about €4.50 for most beers on tap at the Bull and Castle, €5 seems a little steep but then compared to other pubs and including some other craft beer destinations, €5 is average. Now this is just to illustrate how much regular beer costs in this pub.
Was I drinking Full Sail? No. Was anyone ordering it? I don't believe so. Not while I was there. There is nothing wrong with it, it's just that it's boring. I enjoyed my pint the first time I was in but I moved on to more interesting stuff.
No myself and many others around the bar, and I was there by myself so I did not know these people. I had no influence on what they ordered, anyway I had 5am saint, others had Punk IPA and there was one Howling Gale which does not count in my example for the following reason. The beers being ordered were packed full of hops. It's like brewdog whacked in a load of hops and then figured they still had some left so they bunged the rest in too. These beers were €6 and some change (I think) and that's what people were ordering. Sure there were other beers served but to me, sitting at the bar having dinner, it just seemed that everyone was willing to pay an extra €1 for that extra hop bite.
We need another sessionable pale ale in this country like a hole in the head. We are too small a market for every new brewery to provide one. What we lack is a Punk IPA or 5am saint. We need a hop bomb people!!!!
Sorry I'm ranting a little so I will move on with the food.
The Brew dock is rather spacious with a generous upstairs area to complement the main bar downstairs. They do serve food and today I availed of the facility while waiting for my bus home. I do love how convenient it is to Busaras. Here lies a small problem. The menu is a little disappointing to me. There were only two things on it it that sounded appetising. A giant chicken burger and then I had the BBQ platter. The platter was nice enough with spare ribs, wings, mini corn on the cob and some gralic bread. There was also coleslaw but it was typically Irish. Pretty much mayo with some cabbage and carrots in it, the sort I don't like. Against the grain has a better menu as does their other sister pub, the black sheep.
I'm hoping they spice up the menu a bit because I have no real desire to eat there again unless I am there and find myself hungry.
By the way I am only talking about the main courses here. Their bar snacks are a little more interesting.
I did not even see fish and chips on the menu*, a crime in any pub to be honest. I almost felt like walking to the Black Sheep for fish and jenga style chips.
I have just realised that I might be coming across as negative here. I just want to make it clear that I love the brew dock. I think it's a great pub with some fantastic beers in a very convenient location for public transport. I love the interior and I love the beer. I love the lack of TV and that when music is playing, it's at a low level just like its sister pubs. I love that you can get a beer paddle with samples of beer. Just jazz up the menu somewhat. Put some seafood on there, even if only fish and chips, and I apologise if fish and chips was there and I did not notice it. That's it, that's my only complaint and it might be just my preference when it comes to food I like to see on a menu.
Also I never know what's on cask. There does not seem to be a clip and I did not notice a chalk board listing rotation beers etc. For anyone reading who is planning to head in for the first time, if you like stouts and porters, try their own Stormy Port. It's actually very nice.
With luck the IFSC crowd will catch on and business will start booming. I wish them all the luck and I will of course be back.
Just to say, I have been to the brew dock a few times since my initial review and it is fast becoming a favourite. The food is also better than before. I spent nearly 5 hours there recently just sitting, reading a book and drinking as well as lunch. The club sandwich is epic.
Also regarding Full Sail, New brewer Chris has turned this in to a wonderful beer and improved the whole range. It's now one of my favourite Irish pale ales. It's right up there with Metalman.
* According to Eamon, there is fish. See comments.