When I think of an Irish pub I think of music and guinness. And also corned beef and cabbage, although it’s not a very common dish in the eating establishments I’ve been to in Ireland. In fact, I don’t think I’ve seen it on a single menu over there. Guinness on the other hand is everywhere and the top visitor attraction in Dublin is of course the Guinness Storehouse. Back in 1759 Arthur Guinness signed a 9000 year lease on a brewery at St. James’ Gate for £45 a year. That’s kind of amazing. Spoiler alert: That lease is no longer valid as the land the brewery is on ended up being purchased outright a while back.
The current visitor centre for the storehouse was opened in 2000 and contains seven stories of information about Guinness and the brewing process. In the main lobby there’s a gift shop, an incredibly pricey one and a nice lady who greets you with a little information about what you’ll experience during your visit. She pointed out that if we look up we’ll notice that the seven floors of the storehouse are designed around a central glass atrium that form the shape of a pint of Guinness. And sure enough, it did. This mirrored pint if filled would hold around 14.3 million pints of Guinness, to give you an idea of scale. We made our way up through the levels learning how this black gold is made and all the history behind it. First and foremost water, hops, barley, and yeast. I had never seen hops before and the smell of all the grains was so interesting. I realize that may sound strange but I guess you had to be there.
An advertisement from 1943. The toucan is said to be the most popular of the animals used in early advertising for the brew. He was retired in 1982.
The harp logo first appeared in 1862, chosen because of it’s importance as an ancient Irish symbol. In 1960 Guinness introduced its first lager and named it Harp. The one on display in the storehouse is called the Downhill Harp and dates back to 1702. It was played in the 18th century by a blind harpist known as Hempson. The inscription on it ends with, “That Queen of Musick you may call me”.
Then on the fifth floor you have the opportunity to learn “the perfect pour” because there’s a very particular way one must pour a Guinness. And the harp logo on the glass must always face the person who’s ordered the pint.
Finally, the holy grail awaits on the seventh floor, a 360 degree view of all of Dublin in what’s called the Gravity Bar. It is the highest bar in the city and on this particular day we got to watch the sunset. It was really beautiful and many seemed to think the free Guinness was also pretty glorious. I had a very refreshing glass of Fanta orange because although I find the history of the brew very fascinating the taste of it not so much and not as hydrating as a seven floor excursion would require.
It was a great way to end our first day of Dublin exploration. If ever you’re in the area check it out and if you get there earlier in the day there’s also a restaurant that is rumored to serve excellent chocolate Guinness cake.
For discounted tickets or for more information visit their site directly at: www.guinness-storehouse.com