Maybe it’s the creamier and smoother taste the beer has this close to home. Maybe it’s the beautiful Guinness experience I just had in Dublin’s Guinness Storehouse.
Each Floor an Eye Candy
The Guinness Storehouse is a part of a 26-hectare property located in Dublin’s South Market Street. It’s easily one of the most famous tourist spots this side of the capital, and for good reason. While the entire place is a museum-type attraction focused on a specific brand of beer, it contains enough interesting bits to be enjoyable even for non-museum goers and non-beer drinkers!
The self-guided tour starts at around EUR 14 for adults, and takes you through six floors of the Guinness Story. Each of these floors carries a specific theme and introduces a facet of the Guinness brand’s success. The real star here is how they managed to make even academic points look attractive! The modern industrial style of the floors make for great eye candies.
It’s best to go early in the morning, since by late morning and all throughout the afternoons, flocks of people grouped into dozens of tour groups line up for the experience. Once you have bought your tickets (either online or on-site — or you can use your Dublin Pass!), the tour begins at the first floor.
The Guinness Story
The tour starts right atop a piece of paper laminated in glass. This paper contains the lease paper that granted Arthur Guinness the rights to use the area for his craft — for a full 9,000 years! This is a mind-boggling length of time, and 200 years later it appears Guinness used it wisely.
Of course, no tour of the kind would be complete without us learning just how the beer is brewed. There are exhibits showing the different ingredients in Guinness, as well as how they help the brewing process and the taste. There are also galleries showing the grain milling and barrel making processes! It’s very informative, and you come out thinking that this is really something you can try doing at home.
The first floor also contains the story of how the beer has been exported into different territories since its creation in the late 1700s. The logistics part is interesting in the degree of success it garnered. In fact, today Guinness is being imported by more than 150 countries!
This floor also has the Cooperage Cafe, a place celebrating the Guinness tradition of being expert coopers (barrel and cask makers). This art has contributed greatly to the success of the brand as a whole. Snacks and coffee are served here, so you can fill up before ascending the other floors.
The second floor is fairly minimalist, and gives tourists the chance to artfully taste the beer Guinness is famous for. I say “artfully” because it isn’t just drinking and saying how it tastes. It’s a multisensory experience that emphasizes the various flavors in the beer! Even the sparse decor of the floor alludes to the different sensations one ought to feel from the first sip to the last drop.
For those who think that the tasting experience here is a bit on the short side, the Guinness Storehouse also offers a full Connoisseur Experience. This is held up in the 4th Floor, where the Guinness Academy is also located (more on this later). At EUR 25, this will seat you in a classroom setting with a Guinness expert, giving you the chance to learn deeper about the beer-brewing process and also allowing you to taste the four brand variants: Original, Draught, Black Lager, and Foreign Extra Stout. You get two full bottles, too!
Advertising: The Secret Ingredient
No brand gets to rule a niche without a great advertising plan, and Guinness is proud in the way it has this aspect pinned. The third floor serves to celebrate the brand’s monumental advertising success, with exhibits showing previous ads. There are prints, videos, and even sculptures. All these serve to highlight just how much imagination goes into each advert, allowing Guinness to capture the imagination of the drinking public. You can even pose in a photograph with one of the most iconic Guinness ads!
The Art of Pouring
The fourth floor came a little unexpected — it houses an area called the “Guinness Academy” where students can learn the art of the perfect Guinness pour! Who knew there was a “right” way to pour a beer in the first place?
But yes, the brand espouses a six-step ritual that is exquisitely timed from the time it takes the beer to leave the bottle up to the time it takes to settle. That’s a total of 119.5 seconds! After finishing this, you get a certificate that’s an awesome take-home. It’s definitely a plus when you show it to friends at the next drinking spree!
Of course, there’s the Connoisseur Experience mentioned earlier, where you can learn much more about the black drink that Irishmen and so many others around the world love. It’s a semi-private setting, and is excellent for those who really love their beer!
A Dining Experience
Guinness is also perfect paired with food! The fifth floor houses the Brewer’s Dining Hall, which looks much like 18th and 19th century dining rooms the brewery complex housed. There’s a list of great Guinness dishes, all prepared in an open kitchen.
There’s also the 1837 Bar & Brasserie, which commemorates the year when Guinness was first paired with oysters — a now-iconic discovery! It’s a little more laid back than the previous one, and there’s a variety of meals from small treats to platters.
Finally, there’s Arthur’s Bar, which is more of a traditional Irish pub. That means more Guinness! The atmosphere here is great, and there are also windows with great views of Dublin. But even these views cannot compare to what can be found two floors up…
Gravity Bar: The Perfect View
On the seventh floor (yes, there is no sixth on the tour) there is the Gravity Bar, which serves a complimentary draft of Guinness served with a panoramic view of the amazing Irish capital. The 360-degree view is only made better by snippets of tourist info printed onto the walls, shedding light on the important sights you’re looking at from this height. It’s an amazing way to end this one-of-a-kind brewery tour!
The Guinness Storehouse is open 7 days a week, no matter the weather (though of course it’s better to enjoy the 7th floor on a sunny day). It’s well worth a visit no matter your opinions on alcohol. At best, it is a story of one man’s belief in his brand and his rise to the top of his niche — using the most unlikely tool of all, beer.