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A Burlington-Irish Pub Crawl

September 23, 2011

Porterhouse, Dublin, Ireland

          Last semester, Sam and I studied abroad in Dublin. And aside from many other interesting, cultural, and historic sites, we visited quite a few Irish pubs. There was Baker’s, where we went for Irish stew and Guinness, and Porterhouse, where we went for strawberry beer (called Fruili) and music. And, of course, there was the Backpacker’s Pub Crawl. That was unquestionably the best deal in Ireland. For 10 Euro, we went to four bars and one club, with a free drink at each and had the time of our lives exploring the best pubs in Dublin.

Doolin, Ireland

Now that we are back in the U.S., we’ve had to adjust to American bars (which basically means we have to remember to pay tips,) but we also have one lingering question: is it possible to go on an Irish pub crawl in Burlington? To answer this, we decided to do some field research (to the bars!) and what we found while was that while none of the pubs felt 100% Irish, some did have details that brought us back to moments in Ireland.

So if you can’t make the trip to Dublin this weekend, we’re going to show you how to make do with Burlington bars and pubs!

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Vermont Pub and Brewery:

The rustic and casual mood at VPB does feel like an authentic Irish restaurant- brewery. Their Forbidden Fruit and Burly Irish Ale are two of their most well-know (and delicious) microbrews.

VPB’s variety of European fare is unmatched in Burlington, as well. Homey dishes like bangers ’n’ mash, fish ‘n’ chips, and cock’a’leekie pie take me right back to Baker’s pub in Dublin. The only thing that’s lacking? Traditional Irish Stew!

Since VPB is mostly formal restaurant seating, make this the first stop on your pub crawl to share a few appetizers and microbrews.

Finnegan’s:

This bar is more reminiscent of the small-town pubs in Ireland. It has sports-themed pictures on the wall, darts, pool, and two televisions that are always set to sports channels.

There was one thing about Finnegan’s that was definitely not Irish, though: one dollar PBRs on Thursday nights. If any pub, anywhere in Dublin offered one Euro drinks any night of the week, the city would be chaos by morning. In America, bars jack up the prices to make a profit, in Dublin they do it so people go home at some point.

Make this stop #2 on your pub crawl for music, games, and conversation.

Ri Ra:

In the early evening, Ri Ra has this quiet and casual mood, but around midnight it’s a hot-spot pub and dance club all in one. When it’s crowded, you can keep yourself entertained for half an hour trying to buy drinks at the bar, or skip the drinks and head straight to the dance floor. Make this your last stop on the pub crawl, so you can get your groove on.

McKee’s:

Though McKee’s is slightly out of the way from downtown Burlington (it’s in Winooksi,) we felt we had to include it, because McKee’s has mastered the slightly run-down and tired feel that I remember from the neighborhood pubs in Dublin. Like most Irish pubs, there is no glitz at McKee’s–just beer and a place to sit. It’s funny how that phrase could apply to so many places in Ireland…

You might not make it to McKee’s during your downtown pub crawl, so go there on a quieter night with a few of your friends and spend a couple of hours telling stories and having a good laugh.

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Before we set you out on your own pub crawl, there’s one more topic we’ve got to discuss: drinks. You have to get a Guinness or Smithwick’s or Magner’s while you’re out on an Irish pub crawl, but remember, the great thing about Dublin and Burlington is local beer. Have a Magic Hat, Long Trail, Harpoon or Woodchuck Hard Cider, too. Cheers!

Preview for Tuesday: Smells like fall out there. T&B celebrates autumn.

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