Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “A Pint of Plain: How the Irish Pub Lost Its Magic but Conquered the World” as Want to Read:
A Pint of Plain: How the Irish Pub Lost Its Magic but Conquered the World
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

A Pint of Plain: How the Irish Pub Lost Its Magic but Conquered the World

3.37 of 5 stars 3.37  ·  rating details  ·  130 ratings  ·  25 reviews

Seamlessly blending history and reportage, Bill Barich offers a heartfelt homage to the traditional Irish pub, and to the central piece of Irish culture disappearing along with it.

After meeting an I rishwoman in London and moving to Dublin, Bill Barich—a “blow-in,” or stranger, in Irish parlance—found himself looking for a traditional I rish pub to be his local. There a
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published February 3rd 2009 by Walker & Company
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about A Pint of Plain, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about A Pint of Plain

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 346)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
A map would have been great and some pics too!! Lots of interesting commentary here on Irish drinking, history, music, culture, etc.. Sometimes gets a little "dry"-no pun intended--- but a cast of "characters" and road trips to the country keep it going. This is really an ode to the passing of a cultural tradition. Where have all the bars gone?? I'm ready to follow in Bill's footsteps but I better do so fast as many of these gems will be gone soon replaced by suburbs or chains.
M. I.
Mar 16, 2015 M. I. rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: beer
I'm not schooled enough in Irish literature to comprehend much of the author's literary references (that's my failing), but I also found that the text jumps around a bit too much for my tastes, though the jacket blurb calls the book "seamless." A map would have been nice. I was left wishing Barich had gone back to M.D. Hickey for more insight there. Perhaps best of all, and why I liked the book, was that it got me to thinking of the watering holes that I've frequented in years past and the reaso ...more
Aug 12, 2013 Emma added it
The story starts out with Bill Barich living in Dublin, Ireland with his wife. Bill is looking for an authentic anf successful pub to be his regular, everyday pub. He started his search in Ranelagh but he didn't find any owners that he got along with or a pub with an original Irish atmosphere. He expanding his search in a desparate attempt to assure himself that there were still good irish pubs around. He started traveling all around Dublin and the outskirts of it until he finaly went t
Steve lovell
The New Brunswick, James Squires, the Alley Cat, Republic, New Sydney, Shipwright’s Arms – all terrific Hobart pubs that I love to frequent – an eclectic mix from the brassy to traditional all serving an equally eclectic range of ales, rather than just the ubiquitous Cascade/Boags - fine tipples though they may be. Once upon a time my favourite was an Irish pub that had seen better days but still retained, I felt, charm with its cosy nooks. It had the best risotto, a fine range of brews and it w ...more
My hardcover edition is subtitled "Tradition, Change, and the Fate of the Irish Pub" -- which maybe sounded too ominous or academic to early readers; perhaps the publisher thought "magic" and "conquering the world" would sound more attractive/exciting. Certainly Bill Barich is looking for the "magic" as he embarks on his ultimately fruitless quest (or such is the impression he leaves this reader with) to find pubs in Ireland that live up to his romantic vision, inspired by John Ford's "The Quiet ...more
Mike Clinton
Much like a pint of Guinness, this book went down easily and enjoyably and made me feel better for it. Barich blends travelogue with history, sociology, and cultural anthropology to explore the Irish pub's fate in the face of globalization and other transformative forces. We enter numerous pubs with the author and experience vicariously his pint or two (sometimes more), the ambience, conversation, and characters; quite often the last three are seriously lacking and even the first leaves some to ...more
It was slow and a little rambling, like a conversation over a pint with a friendly stranger. I really enjoyed the author's historical tidbits, particularly regarding which authors drank at which pubs, but the mourning and gnashing of teeth over the loss of "fairytale Ireland pubs" got old after several chapters. Is there anything so wrong with accepting that times change?

To be fair, though, the book definitely changed my perspective on what makes an "authentic" Irish pub.
I admit - I didn't open this book with an open mind. Shame on me. A Pint of Plain How the Irish Pub Lost Its Magic but Conquered the World Hardcover is an excellent piece of new journalism.

My full review will be posted on Green Man Review sometime in March.
An interesting look at the status of Irish pubs in modern Ireland. Barich isolated his research to mainly Dublin pubs, though he did make it as far west as Cong. A more diverse sampling of pubs in the four provinces and Northern Ireland would have made it a better study. Still, you can't go wrong sipping a Guinness with this book.
I really wanted to like this book as I've enjoyed Barich's previous writing. However, I just couldn't get enough traction to continue much beyond halfway through this one - too much research and journalism (interviews), and not enough cultural obervation for me.
This book staggers despite having the literary and cultural heft of a pint of Miller Lite; it is, however, understandable that a more honest exploration of pubs in Irish culture would have sliced up the myths that Barich's readers want left intact
Apr 29, 2009 Lisa added it
I need to make an "abandoned" shelf for books that I start and never finish. I couldn't get into this one. I didn't like the writer's style, and maybe I know too much about the subject for his ramblings to interest me. Disappointing.
Boston Book Bums
Barich writes like he is participating on one of those pint fueled conversations that he is searching for. The conversation is free flowing, tangential, sometimes fascinating, sometimes a little dull, always welcomed.
Lots of humor and fun literary references.
Dennis Willingham
A search for the quintessential Irish pub. Part travelogue, part history and part eulogy to the dying traditional and rural pubs. Interesting and a quick read. Wish I'd had it before my last trip to Ireland
David Lau
Part history and part contemporary novel. Details the changes of public houses due to globalization and modernization in Ireland. Some Interesting takeaway points but a grind to read.
I read about half of this book. It started out well, and if you are interested in the history of the Irish pub it is worth a read, but it didn't hold my attention.
Adam Northam
This book makes me want to move to Ireland, and take up residence in the corner of the local pub with a pint of Guinness that is perpetually refilled.
Once again, around Ireland in search of a pint, But this time a lament to the traditional pub fast disappearing.
An ex-pat in Dublin searches for the perfect Irish pub.
Mercy Loomis
Very entertaining, if somewhat disillusioning.
Feb 21, 2010 Sarah rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2010
shocking info about the irish pub
fuck, i want a pint...
First of all, the subtitle on my copy says, "Tradition, Change, and the Fate of the Irish Pub." Neither subtitles were actually addressed. Barich's book is a travelogue, with a little more froth to it. I did enjoy his journey to seek the perfect pub, as he saw in John Ford's The Quiet Man. There ARE still pockets of charming, REAL pubs in "Fairytale Ireland," but they key to preservation is to KEEP them untapped, away from the transient tourists and outsiders. A pleasant enough book to relax wit ...more
Tina Denson
Tina Denson marked it as to-read
Jun 24, 2015
Cory marked it as to-read
Jun 18, 2015
Elizabeth Barter
Elizabeth Barter marked it as to-read
Jun 13, 2015
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Pint-Sized Ireland: In Search of the Perfect Guinness
  • The Search For God And Guinness: A Biography Of The Beer That Changed The World
  • Jaywalking with the Irish
  • Beyond Belfast: A 560 Mile Journey Across Northern Ireland On Sore Feet
  • Round Ireland in Low Gear
  • The Road to McCarthy: Around the World in Search of Ireland
  • How the Irish Invented Slang: The Secret Language of the Crossroads
  • Punch: The Delights (and Dangers) of the Flowing Bowl
  • The Naked Pint: An Unadulterated Guide to Craft Beer
  • Black Potatoes: The Story of the Great Irish Famine, 1845-1850
  • Ireland: A Terrible Beauty
  • Extreme Brewing: An Enthusiast's Guide to Brewing Craft Beer at Home
  • And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in Ten Cocktails
  • Brewing Classic Styles: 80 Winning Recipes Anyone Can Brew
  • Inventing Niagara: Beauty, Power and Lies
  • Extreme Frontiers: Racing Across Canada from Newfoundland to the Rockies
  • Sun Dancing: Life in a Medieval Irish Monastery and How Celtic Spirituality Influenced the World
  • Down with Big Brother: The Fall of the Soviet Empire
Laughing in the Hills A Fine Place to Daydream: Racehorses, Romance, and the Irish Long Way Home Carson Valley: A novel Traveling Light: A Year of Wandering, from California to England and Tuscany and Back Again

Share This Book

“H. L Mencken's Dictionary of the American Language supplies a long list of slang terms for being drunk, but the Irish are no slouches, either. They're spannered, rat-arsed, cabbaged, and hammered; ruined, legless, scorched, and blottoed; or simply trolleyed or sloshed. In Kerry, you're said to be flamin'; in Waterford, you're in the horrors; and in Cavan, you've gone baloobas, a tough one to wrap your tongue around if you ARE baloobas. In Donegal, you're steamin', while the afflicted in Limerick are out of their tree.” 9 likes
More quotes…