Castlebay Irish Pub

Brewpub, Irish Pub, Bar
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Editorial Review

Here's a novel approach: an Irish pub that brews (some of) its own beer.

Vince Quinlan, a former Dublin pub owner, wanted to re-create an Irish watering hole in Annapolis. (Irish music fans will recognize Quinlan from his many performances around Washington, on his own or with the group Celtic Folk.) His creation edges toward the traditional over-the-top Irish bar motif, with Guinness and Harp paraphernalia coming at you from every angle. There are some nice touches -- like the stained glass and large paintings of James Joyce and country scenes. On weekends, Celtic bands like Shilelagh set up along the wall across from the bar, drawing large crowds.

In the back of the room, those brass kettles and vats aren't just for show: They are the birthplace of Three Nuns Ale, a creamy, malty brew reminiscent of Boddingtons with a richer body.

The rest of the British-Irish beer selection is outstanding; it includes Guinness, Boddingtons, Beamish, Newcastle, Tetley's, Bass, and Harp, plus an array of single-malt scotches arranged behind the bar. Complimented on their pouring, the staff boast about the bar's state-of-the-art "nitrogen/CO2 delivery system" that makes each 20-ounce imperial pint perfect.

Add some delicious-if-predictable Irish food, plate glass windows that look out onto Main Street, and you have an Irish bar worth visiting.

-- Fritz Hahn