Besides the sprawling green landscapes, captivating Irish castles and leprechauns, Ireland is also famous for its beer—Guinness beer to be more specific! Although other brands and breweries exist, it’s the “black stuff” that is the most known in the country and beyond.
I had been in Ireland for two whole days yet still refrained from drinking the countries best selling alcoholic beverage, a pint of Guinness stout. Why? Because I had never even had a sip, much less a pint, before and I wanted my first time to be at the Guinness Storehouse Brewery in Dublin, where the phenomenon started. True story.
Luckily, I wouldn’t have to wait too long to be broken of my Guinness virginity. On day three we headed over to the Guinness Storehouse, an operation that’s expansiveness covers three postal codes and the capacity to brew 20 million pints a day. We would be touring the seven stories dedicated to the history and making of this world famous beer. But, that’s not all. We would also be participating in the exclusive connoisseurs tasting where we would be learning how to pour the perfect pint and, of course, partaking in a little drinking too.
Touring Dublin’s Popular Beer Factory
About Guinness Storehouse in Dublin
It probably comes as no surprise to anyone with interest in visiting Ireland, that the Guinness Storehouse is Ireland’s most popular attraction among tourists. Located right in the heart of Dublin, it’s an excellent way to start your tour of Ireland – and it’s a great last stop on your journey around Ireland, as well.
The Guinness Storehouse consists of several floors detailing the long and interesting brewing history of Guinness, including interactive experiences for the curious visitor. At the top of the storehouse, you can find a great rooftop bar, in fact a world-famous one, where it’s only right to down a pint of Guinness beer.
The seven story visitor experience was located on the outskirts of town and loaded with interactive fun. The levels will take you from the history of Guinness to a tasty tasting experience to the gravity bar located at the top floor that will give you a spectacular view of the city. There were indoor waterfalls, entertaining photo booths and plenty of places to indulge in a pint.
Guinness Storehouse Tour
You don’t need to book a tour or a guide to visit Guinness Storehouse (though you can check their event page if you want to). It’s perfectly possible to do it on your own self-guide tour! I recommended to reserve at least 1 1/2 hours to tour the Guinness Storehouse. Of course, you’re allowed to spend a longer portion of your day at the storehouse, and it’s perhaps also possible to do the tour quicker – but do you really want to rush it? I’d like to take my time with this visit, that’s for sure!
And, no, unfortunately it isn’t possible to visit the actual brewery. However, the folk at the Guinness Storehouse are also conscious of this, and thus they’ve tried to create the Guinness Storehouse tour to be as close to an actual brewery experience as you can get!
Floors of Guinness Storehouse and What You Do on Them
So, as I mentioned before, the Guinness Storehouse consists of several floors filled with information and activities – seven floors, to be exact! But what exactly can you find on each of these floors?
Ground Floor — Arthur’s Lease, Ingredients & The Store
On this floor you can see the famous 9,000 year lease, find out exactly what goes into a pint of Guinness and be introduced to the ingredients used to brew the beers. And there’ll even be an indoor waterfall for further visual pleasure! The Guinness Retail Store, from where you can find all the Guinness merch you could possibly dream of having, is located on this floor as well.
1st Floor — Brewing, Cooperage & Cafe
Once you get to the first floor, you’ll be going through the actual process of brewing the beer, learning how the casks have been made over the years and how the beer has made it all over the world. There’s a café called Cooperage Café on this floor, and it may just be the perfect first pit stop for some food.
2nd Floor —The Tasting Rooms
The second floor is where you’ll get to have yourself a little bit of a ‘Tasting experience’, in which you’ll get to master the art of tasting Guinness beer. This is also the floor with the introduction to the Guinness aromas.
3rd Floor — Advertising
Although this is a floor dedicated mostly to all the iconic Guinness advertising over the years, it’s so big and flashy and quirky that you’re bound to be loving every bit of it! There’s also a Drink IQ section which will go through some of the unfortunate cons of drinking (too much) alcohol.
My favorite floor was the World of Advertising where you can immerse yourself in over eighty years of one of the world’s most iconic brands. This section not only made me giggle, but also made me marvel at the creativity of Guinness over the years. History can be entertaining.
Characters from the famous Guinness posters come to life; a moving 3d version of Fish on a Bicycle plays, 20 ticking clocks hang from the ceiling and a seal balancing a pint on its nose delights. The finale of the floor is the cinema portion that boasts a 138 foot long screen that wraps 180 degrees.
4th Floor — Guinness Academy, Connoisseur Experience & Beer Selfie
If you’ve been especially looking forward to the interactive stuff, you’ve made it to the right floor! Here is where you’ll find the Guinness Academy, which is all about teaching you how to pour the perfect Guinness. Or, alternatively, you can also taste different types of Guinness with the Connoisseur Experience (you get to learn to pour the perfect pint with this experience too!).
Though the general entrance gets you two small glasses or a pint of beer, the connoisseurs experience was something entirely different. It was in a private, sleek bar.
The exclusive bar on the fourth floor was dimly lit with a tin tile ceiling and antique-style portraits hanging on the walls —reminiscent of a secret speakeasy. We had our own personal connoisseur who had worked for Guinness for 8 years and is now a brand ambassador. He probably gets a lot of free stout.
The are 24 different types of Guinness around the world and we were going to taste five including the Dublin Porter and the Guinness Extra Stout in a bottle. The latter of the two is the fizzy version of the one on tap and there’s a special way of opening it. Start by putting it on a flat surface. As you open the bottle towards yourself listen to the hiss and look for the puff of smoke — this confirms it’s fresh. Pouring should be done at two 45 degree angles, both the glass and the bottle. At the end pull glass away. The perfect Guinness pour — from a bottle.
The Perfect Guinness Pour: 2-part pour in 4 steps
Now it was time for the grand finale, to learn to pour the perfect pint from the tap. This requires a 2-part pour, in 4 steps. The perfect pint doesn’t have to be poured by some one with an Irish accent, it just has to be done using proper procedures.
1. Use the Right Glass
Choose a cool clean glass that has not been washed with food as that may leave a greasy residue and ghosty streaks. It is best to use a branded Guinness glass, a 20 ounce tulip, that’s made specifically for the stout.
2. Choose the Proper Angle
Tilt the glass away from you at a 45-degree angle and place it under the tap, never letting it actually touch the spigot. Pull the tap towards you and fill three-quarters of the way up, straightening the glass as it fills.
3. Let it Settle
Set the beer down on the counter and let it settle for 90 seconds. During this time the nitrogen bubbles float down the interior side and back up the middle — building a creamy head.
4. Top it Off
Once you have allow the beer to settle, top it off by pushing the tap (instead of pulling) and filling the glass so the foam creates a slight dome over the glass.
Now we were ready to indulge in the deep ruby-red Guinness. Let me tell you the wrong way to taste it, the way I may have done it at first: hold the beer, take a selfie, dip your finger in the foam to take a taste (which is really bitter!), take a tiny sip until you determine Guinness isn’t for them. Instead take a big gulp, drinking about a quarter of the glass before making any decisions.
If you wish to take your beer drinking experience even further, here is where you can also order a STOUTie, in other words a beer with your selfie right on top! Isn’t that neat? It is made with a natural malt extract and it’ll cost you 6 euros and you can make the purchase already alongside of your entrance ticket.
5th Floor — Food, Bar & Restaurants
Now that you’ve spent some of your time going through each of the floors at the Guinness Storehouse, learning all about the brewery, how about sitting down for some refreshments and snacks? There are three restaurant-type of places to choose from, each with their own charm. You can get a sample of what a traditional Irish pub feels like at Arthur’s Bar. Or you can grab some comfort food at Brewer’s Dining Hall. Or you can go a wee bit fancier and choose 1837 Bar & Brasserie.
7th Floor — Gravity Bar
And you’ve finally made it to the top once you reach this gorgeous rooftop bar! You’ll be rewarded a free pint – well, you already paid for this drink when you paid for the entrance fee – that you can sip on or chug or however you usually drink your beer, all the while looking at the panoramic views of Dublin down below.
If you happen to be traveling with minors to Guinness Storehouse, they will, of course, be given an alternative, alcohol-free, beverage, as opposed to the beer.
When it comes to getting tickets to Guinness Storehouse, it is possible to buy them on the spot. However, my personal recommendation would be to purchase them online in advance. Why? There are two reasons! For one, by having your tickets already when you enter Guinness Storehouse, you get to skip the queue at the ticket booth. For another, purchasing your tickets online is actually several euros cheaper than if you buy them on the day of your visit! This is good to keep in mind if you’re still wondering whether to outright fit Guinness Storehouse into your itinerary or whether to visit spontaneously if you end up with the extra time to spare.
Now that you’ve read all these details regarding Guinness Storehouse, you should be all good and ready for your visit! I highly recommend this tour to everyone, especially to those who have a liking towards beer – it’ll be one of the highlights of Dublin! And even if you’re not too keen on drinking beer, it’s a great insight into a big aspect of what Ireland and its culture are all about. Now, go on and enjoy Guinness Storehouse for yourself!
Though my first ever sip of Guinness happened at the Guinness Storehouse, it was definitely not the last. I drank many times after, mostly pairing it with a plate of crispy fish & chips (one of the best foods in the world!).
A perfect pint and a perfect pairing.
. . .
The Guinness Storehouse is away from the center of town and can easily be reached by taxi. But, it is also a stop on the Hop On, Hop Off bus, which is how we arrived. This bus will take you to all the hot spots in Dublin. Viator sells a skip the line ticket, in case you don’t like to wait!
If you only have time for one, skip the Old Jameson Distillery (it’s a little cheesy) and go the Guinness Storehouse instead. We spent over four hours there and could have easily been entertained for a couple more.
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