Galway’s Guide to Great Guinness with Molly O’Connor and Tomás Herlihy

Photo Credits: Tomás Herlihy

Co-written by Tomás Herlihy and Molly O’Connor

As the weather has improved to “beer garden weather,” it was only right that Galway Pulse sent two of their harshest critics to investigate the most important question to any person coming to the West. 

Is the Guinness any good? 

Tomás Herlihy and Molly O’Connor took to the streets of Galway and to some pubs recommended by friends and passersby to try the Guinness and to “check the vibe” of these establishments. 

1: Crowes (Tomás) 

Photo Credits: Tomás Herlihy

The pub of the Bohermore faithful, Crowe’s Bar offers its regulars the best of both worlds. From an old-time pub interior that transforms into a modern beer garden within a couple of metres, the crowd in Crowes can really vary, depending on the day. 

Service at this fine establishment has always been great, and this did not change come review day. Up to the bar, pint ordered, pint received, no fussing about. Straight to the “pint,” if you will. 

The pint itself was good, the head was at a decent height, the creaminess of the pint was on-par, served in a proper Guinness glass. While the frostiness on the inside of the glass was a small bit concerning, overall, it was a nice pint of Guinness, that I would have again. 

2: Garavan’s (Molly) 

Photo Credit: Tomás Herlihy

Nestled right in the heart of the city is Garavan’s. Located at the mid-point of Shop Street, this charming bar is popular amongst tourists and locals alike.  

Being a historical protected site, this pub is scattered with remnants of its past – slightly worn but very cosy couches, an open fire, and aged bespoke whiskey cabinets. Displayed behind the bar are old Guinness bottles. I was informed that in the 1960s and 70s, Garavan’s would bottle their own Guinness.  

After being told this, I had high hopes for their Guinness, and I was not disappointed. From a technical standpoint, their Guinness was perfect.  

The heady, dark brew itself had that underlying bitterness and was velvety to the palette. The head was creamy and seemingly gravity-defying as it peaked over the glass. Overall, I could not flaw this pint. 

3: Skeffington Arms or “The Skeff” (Molly) 

Photo Credit: Tomás Herlihy

A mere 3-minute walk from the train and bus stations, the Skeff is the ideal pitstop for the weary traveller who has just made the journey to Galway. 

Established in 1850, the exquisite interior has retained its Victorian integrity with dark wooden panelling and accents of stained glass.  

However, their outdoor seating overlooks one of the busiest meeting spots in the city and is an ideal location to people-watch and to take a moment to sip on a pint while the world rushes by.  

As for the pint’s taste itself, it was a personal favourite of mine. It had a slightly more bitter undertone than some of the other Guinness we tasted, which I enjoyed immensely. The head slightly peaked over the top of the rim of the glass but was ever so slightly lacking in volume. 

It was served to us quite cold, and although this was appreciated given the warm weather, this would not ordinarily be as welcomed. Guinness being served at a slightly more temperate degree allows the customer to gulp rather than sip. However, as we were just people-watching and having a chat in the sun, the conditions in which it was served to us were ideal. 

4: Taaffes (Tomás) 

Photo Credit: Tomás Herlihy

Another pub on Shop Street that was reviewed was Taaffes.  

Upon arrival, it gives the vibe of the local pub back in your hometown. Regulars sitting at the bar chatting away with the bartender, an open fire providing them with warmth as they indulge in their few pints.  

The bar staff in Taafe’s are quite friendly, and they are efficient in getting you your drink. As it a busy pub, it is understandable if there are delays to certain points, but in Taaffes they use the time and their numbers behind the bar with great efficiency.  

The pint itself was great, no bubbles in the head, a nice dome, head clearly distinguished, nice taste. A recommendation had been made by a friend regarding this pub and it failed to disappoint. 

The only thing I would say about Taaffes is that for all its strengths, it is quite small in comparison to the other two pubs mentioned so far, so while the atmosphere was good at the time, it also tended to be crowded. 

5: Carroll’s on Dominick Street (Tomás)  

Photo Credit: Carroll’s of Dominick Street socials

The last pub we stopped in was the infamous Carroll’s on Dominick Street, located at the back of Jimmy Fahy’s pub on Dominick Street.  

The atmosphere on the day was sublime, the sunny weather had sun kissed a lot of the Galwegians and the thirst was on, however, maybe it was for other beverages. 

The service at the small bar hut in the massive beer garden was as good as you could expect considering the size, but unfortunately, the Guinness served in Carroll’s failed to live up to the other pints indulged in this study. 

To start, the pint of Guinness was not served in Guinness glasses, which to some people may not be important, but for me, it is a huge no-no. You do not serve Heineken in a Budweiser glass, you do not serve Bulmer’s in an Orchard Thieves glass, these are the unwritten rules. So that to start was a major issue. 

The Guinness itself was not of the best standard either. Poor head, the taste was a bit bland, there were bubbles in the head and so on. I moved quickly off Guinness after two pints, I had seen and tasted enough. 

Conclusion: 

As both critics are keen Guinness drinkers, it is fair to say that Galway has the spot for any occasion. You can go to Crowe’s on a busy summer’s day, the Skeff for a more sophisticated beverage, while you get homely warm feelings in both Garavan’s and Taafe’s while also getting lovely pints.  Carroll’s offers a nice atmosphere in their spacious beer garden but the Guinness leaves much to be desired

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