Guinness and Ireland are inextricably linked and no visit to Dublin is complete without a tour of the famous brewery on St James’s Gate. Only a twenty minute walk from the city center, this historic factory has been brewing Guinness on the site since 1759; though, the origin of the current building is much more recent. I didn’t know what to expect from a tour of the Guinness Storehouse. I thought I might learn a few facts about brewing and get a taste of the famous beverage, but this tour takes one well beyond those meager expectations. The Storehouse offers seven floors of history, shopping, unique culinary experiences, and free pints in the glass-walled Gravity Bar at the top of the building. Here, you will also be provided with great views of Dublin all the way to the Wicklow Mountains.
Upon entering St James’s Gate, you first encounter horse-drawn carriages, which illustrates how Guinness used to be delivered throughout the city. Inside the Storehouse is the world’s largest pint glass, which rises up through the middle of the seven floors. The tour is completely self-guided and will take around an hour or two depending on how long you would like to explore the displays. Some of the floors are more captivating than others. For instance, I found the creative use of Guinness in the recipes of the Brewer’s Dining Hall menu items to be the highlight of the tour, as well as the panoramic views of Dublin from the seventh floor.
Information presented on the first few floors explains the Guinness brewing process and provides a history of the coopering trade and former transportation methods. The advertising gallery leads you through the history of marketing Guinness to the willing masses. Through display of colorful posters and TV ads the gallery shows the development of the brand’s famous images and icons (like the toucan and harp) and marketing slogans (“Guinness is good for you”).
On the fourth floor – with the help of a trained bartender – you can practice pouring a “perfect pint”, which you can then enjoy drinking in the Perfect Pint Bar which overlooks brewery. Guinness is not only a beverage, but has been used in cooking for many years. The Brewer’s Dining Hall serves a range of classic and creative Guinness-themed recipes, including beef and Guinness stew, Guinness chocolate mousse, Guinness cured salmon, and even Guinness bread.
The tour ends at the Gravity Bar at the top of the Storehouse, which provides panoramic views of Dublin and the Wicklow Mountains. You receive a free pint of Guinness and can stay and enjoy the scenery for as long as you wish. Even for someone who rarely drinks, the Guinness Storehouse was a surprisingly interesting and entertaining way to spend a few hours on a rainy Dublin afternoon.
St James’s Gate
353 1 408 4800
Written by and photos by Erin Connelly for EuropeUpClose.com