Dublin – JW Sweetman Pub

This pub by the River Liffey takes its name from John William Sweetman, a brewer who started his beer production in the city in 1756. By the 1820s, his brewery was producing nearly as much as Guinness, although it’s fair to say that the latter have now taken something of a lead. There’s a micro-brewery in the pub today, so the tradition continues in at least some form.

We arrived at the pub without a reservation, something which was slightly aspirational as it was a Friday night and it was busy throughout Dublin. We had a wait of a few minutes, but a friendly staff member came over to help us, although she wasn’t sure if there was any seating available. She returned promptly, but she seemed a little nervous at the table that she found us as this was on the first floor and underneath the television. This didn’t sound ideal at first, but it was a perfectly decent place to sit with plenty of space and it wasn’t that near to the television which was showing some random sport.

We passed this on the way up….. This is very Dublin.

Our seating area had an excellent view of the upstairs bar. Most of the customers in the pub seemed to be dining and the menu did look to be quite interesting, with numerous beer pairings with the food. If it wasn’t for my wanting to visit other pubs in the city, I’d have been quite content to spend the entire evening here, it was all quite convivial.

I had hoped to try one of the brewery’s two stouts, the Dublin Porter and the Irish Dry Stout, but they were both unavailable.

Instead I went for the brewery’s Irish red ale and the West Coast pale ale, which were both perfectly acceptable beers that I’d order again. Both reasonably priced and I realised how much Dublin bars and pubs like to use beer mats on tables, something that seems much rarer now in English pubs.

The reviews of the pub are nearly all positive, although I like replies such as:

“However, after speaking to our staff in detail, some other aspects about the situation came to light & we feel that it was handled correctly on the day.”

As I’m sure that there’s an awesome story there about some ridiculous customer behaviour….

“Sadly I’ve always wanted to visit Ireland and my first pub experience I encountered the rude bar staff who refused to make me a black velvet. Not only refused, but chastised me for putting cider with the sacred Guinness, forcing me to make my own drink…”

Good, I wouldn’t have made one either. Customers can make their own ridiculous cocktails…..

“I went up to order a drink and asked the barman if they had the new Amstel Radler yet … he responded by telling me that they would never be getting any gimmicky drinks like that in stock and went on to brag about how their beers were made.”

Well, the barman has a point….

“It was €8 here for a bottle of gluten-free Peroni. To give some context, they’re four for €10 in supermarkets”

It’s almost like supermarkets are cheaper than pubs…

I have no idea though what the pub did to annoy this customer:

“As disappointing as gout”.

In a couple of weeks, this pub will have a different feel on a weekend evening when the table service rules are lifted. They’ll be able to get more people in at the bar which will make it easier to get into venues, but I have to say that I’m pleased that we visited when we did. Friendly service, a clean environment and a relaxed atmosphere, all really rather lovely.