When I was in Dublin in March I visited the Guinness™ Storehouse at St. James’s Gate. A seven-story, converted warehouse where you learn all about the Guinness™ story, it is Ireland’s #1 tourist attraction according to TripAdvisor®. The centre court is built in the shape of a monstrous Guinness™ glass, reaching from the ground floor all the way up to the 6th story. They’ll even tell you how many pints of Guinness™ it would take to fill that gigantic glass!
Ground floor: You begin the journey in the central courtyard of the ground floor where a Guinness™ guide will give you a briefing about the building and how the self-guided tour works. You’ll see, embedded in the floor under glass, a copy of the 9,000-year lease Arthur Guinness signed back in 1792, rent payable £45 per year. Now, that’s foresight!
There is the Guinness™ store where you can buy a souvenir of your visit, either on arrival or on your way out, after your tour. If you’re there at the end of the day, the store does stay open for awhile after the rest of the facility closes. If you want any of the engraved souvenirs you can order it before you start your tour and then it will be ready for you to pick up once you’re done.
The first exhibit on this floor is “Our Brewing Story”. This area describes the basic four, all-natural ingredients of the famous brew. First is the barley, grown nearby by the same three families that supplied the grain back in the 1700’s. Then past a river and waterfall of the clear, cool water from a lake in surrounding mountains of County Wicklow. Next is an explanation of hops – how they grow and why they’re an important aspect of the mixture. Finally, in this area, the original safe that Arthur Guinness stored a supply of the now infamous yeast. To this day some of the yeast is still kept under lock and key, to ensure an ongoing supply should the main stock ever fail or be destroyed.
1st Floor: The lead exhibit is “The Arthur Guinness Story”, featuring panels of various people and historic figures talking about the Guinness family and their association to the community. With only £100 to his name at the time Arthur Guinness had the belief and determination to sign that unprecedented 9,000 year lease on the land the brewery occupies and to begin making beer. After a couple of years he experimented with a dark, stout-style brew, which evolved into the Guinness™ people are still enjoying to this day, honouring his family’s name.
“Cooperage and Transport” is also featured on this floor. You can watch a fascinating video showing how the wooden barrels on display were hand-crafted by the coopers of the day. It was a demanding and meticulous craft. The transport sections displays the various means that were used for transporting Guinness™ to over 150 countries.
2nd Floor: The “Tasting Experience” is housed here but this area wasn’t open the day I visited. According to the brochure it offers a “multi-sensory tasting journey” to master the art of tasting Guinness™, the time-honoured way to fully appreciate the perfect pint.
3rd Floor: “World of Advertising” section, which I found really interesting. What an imaginative and creative company this is. There are over eighty years worth of print, digital and TV ads as well as statues of the various Guinness™ characters that have been used in their various campaigns like the toucan and kangaroo. Being from Manitoba, home to Churchill – the polar bear capital of the world – one of my favourite print ads was one of a polar bear lounging in a tub, drinking a Guinness™!
4th Floor: Learn the art of the perfect Guinness™ pour at the at the Guinness™ Academy. The instructor demonstrates the two step, perfect pour. Then you get a chance to try your hand at it – they even take photos of you doing your pour, which you can email to yourself afterwards. You set your pint to settle and then take it to one of the tables to enjoy the spoils of your labour!
5th Floor: Houses the Brewers’ Dining Hall, inspired by the 18th and 19th century dining rooms at St. James’s Gate. It features and open kitchen and a menu of iconic Guinness™ dishes.
Visiting the Guinness™ Storehouse is a great way to spend a day or part of a day while in Dublin. I was there from mid-afternoon until the facility closed. I was told that the busiest time is from late morning to mid-afternoon, so I missed the crowds. Mornings are apparently the quietest time (but, I really didn’t fancy a Guinness™ before my morning coffee & pastry had had time to settle!). However, maybe the early bird has the right idea, to get to the Guinness™ Storehouse early, ahead of the mid-morning crowds!
Whatever time of day you visit and however long you have to spend there, you’re sure to learn a lot and enjoy your time at this iconic, Dublin institution. Seeing as Arthur Guinness signed that 9,000-year lease on the land in 1759, it’s going to be there for some time to come!