I don’t do beers.
I never liked them nor have I ever been interested in them. So, it was a big dilemma when I realize that one of Dublin’s biggest attractions is the Guinness Storehouse and Factory at St. James’ Gate. To go or not to go? Opposing opinions came from different people – “If you’re not interested, why go?” or “You absolutely have to do it! It’s THE Irish experience!”. Well, as you may have guessed (I’m nothing if not predictable), we went! Hey, when in Dublin, right?!
The Storehouse is really a museum at its core, a really thorough and impressive one at that! Get this – the building itself is designed in the shape of giant pint of Guinness, that, if full, would hold 14.3 million pints! The experience takes you through the process of crafting the famous stout, from gathering the ingredients, processing and fermenting them, packaging and transporting the finish products, as well as the advertisement efforts involved in marketing Guinness. Currently, the brewery at St. James Gate produces all the Guinness in Ireland, the UK, Continental Europe and North America. That’s 3 million pints of stout DAILY.
Guinness is made using only 4 ingredients: barley, water, hops, and yeast. The process goes something like this – taken verbatim from the Visitors’ Map: “The barley is malted, roasted, milled, mixed with hot water and mashed. The liquid is then filtered off and boiled with hops. Then yeast is added and fermentation begins. The beer is clarified, matured, and prepared for packaging”.
The experience continues as you ascend the levels of the Storehouse. Level 2 shows all the advertising efforts that were put into marketing the brew. I have to admit, the level of creativity in these ads were very impressive. Take a look:
Your entry ticket entitles you to a pint of Guinness, which either you can learn to pour yourself or you can enjoy at the Gravity Bar up on the 7th floor. My suggestion: learn to pour! There is no extra charge to go to the Gravity Bar, so you can always go up to the 7th floor and enjoy the view afterwards. Did you know that it takes 119.5 seconds to pour the perfect pint of Guinness? First, the glass is filled 3/4 full, or “up to the harp”, as we were told. Then it is left alone to sit until the foam disappears before it is topped up.
There is even a method to drink Guinness: you want to take a very big first gulp, so you get both the foam and the beer (and a beer moustache!).
And to acknowledge your success in pouring a perfect pint, you even get a certificate!
Guinness is heavy and it’s definitely not something you can drink quickly, especially if you’re non-seasoned beer drinkers, like us. It took the better part of 30 minutes before we finish our pints and head up to the Gravity Bar (not without feeling slightly woozy, to use the words of my brother).
If you ever find yourself asking the same questions as I did – to go or not to go? – I can answer that for you. Definitely, go! The admission price is well worth it. If you are a student, don’t forget to bring your student ID with you as you can get a discount to get in. None of us are beer drinkers, yet we enjoyed it and ended up spending much more time than anticipated. The storehouse is very well laid out and the free pint of Guinness just adds a cherry on top of an already yummy ice cream!