What is “the black stuff”?
Well, the Guinness Storehouse has 7 floors dedicated to answering this question. There’s no wonder as to why it’s Dublin’s most popular tourist destination (and it’s not just because of the free pint).
After admiring the factory’s Christmas lights, my friend and I started our tour. The line for buying tour tickets was the definition of a nightmare-it ran long and far-but we avoided the mess since we had already booked online.
Our beer tour began in a simple manner as it introduced the four ingredients of a Guinness pint: Malted and roasted barley, hops, yeast and water. The factory also tells the story of its creator, Arthur Guinness, and how he helped shape Dublin. Arthur Guinness was confident that his factory would be successful, so much so that he leased his St. James’ Gate Brewery for 9,000 years with a $65 annual fee.
The last time I checked, the place looked like it was doing very well.
The Guinness history, brewing process and its stories are interactive and effective. Some interesting facts can be picked up along the journey as well. For one, it’s the roasted barley that gives Guinness its ruby red color. The tasting room offered a different experience, where each of the four ingredients could be individually experienced. White pillars allowed us to smell the separate flavors of the Guinness, such as beer esters and hops. After receiving a small sample of beer, we were then ushered into a darker lit room and instructed how to taste Guinness as “a Guinness should be experienced”. The tasting room gave enough of a break from the information overload and brought us to the next level, which would become my favorite stop.
The entire floor is dedicated to the history of Guinness marketing and advertising that includes its history of tv ads and campaigns such as “Guinness for strength” and “Lovely day for a Guinness”.
There are walls of videos, ticking clocks and a human-sized fish that could ride a bike. I was sold after watching the fish pedal its bicycle, which was probably in an attempt to find its own lovely Irish pint. After all, this is the advertising floor. Each floor utilized technology to the greatest capacity without taking away from the overall message, so it didn’t surprise me to learn that the Dublin storehouse is one of the most technologically advanced breweries in the world.
Our last stop was the Gravity Bar located on the seventh floor. The Gravity Bar has had its fair share of celebrities and politicians, a growing list that includes the Queen of England and President Obama. While smaller bars are located throughout the factory for visitors to receive their free pint (well, your pint that’s paid by your admission) this is one of the most popular and crowded bars for tourists.
Although we had several hours to complete our tour, it almost wasn’t enough time to fully experience Guinness. the storehouse closes at 5 p.m. As someone coming into the experience with no great expectations, it was something I’m glad I didn’t miss. Every moment and floor was worth it.