Celebrating Ireland's most iconic beer
Saturday 12 March 2022
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The Guinness Storehouse is one of Ireland’s most popular tourist attractions, and a place of pilgrimage for fans of the black stuff all over the world. Situated in the middle of the sprawling Dublin brewery site, it’s part museum, part educational tour and part celebration of one of the beer world’s most iconic and beloved brands.
The exhibition is spread over seven floors, winding up around a spectacular central atrium and topped by the famous Gravity Bar. Each floor segues off into mysterious side corridors and chambers, creating an effect that is mildly disorientating but certainly keeps things interesting. Fortunately, we have tour guide to the stars John Leahy to keep us on the path, and share some of the hidden stories behind the long history of this building and the liquid it's produced.
John tells us the Storehouse building wasn’t part of the original site, but is instead part of the 52 extra acres that have been added to the brewery since Arthur Guinness famously negotiated a 9000-year lease for four acres in December 1759. Construction started in 1901 and was completed in 1906, with this building serving as the brewery’s fermentation house until the move into Brewhouse Three in 1988. It was converted into a tourist attraction just after the turn of the century and has been open to the public for a little over 20 years.
There’s plenty here for the brewing novice to enjoy – with clear, concise explanations of the process – but even the most jaded tour-hound will be impressed with the way elements of Guinness’s industrial heritage have been put to such inspiring use. Right from the very first room, you’re placed inside a massive wooden fermentation vessel, then into the hammered copper heart of a giant mash tun, while a more traditional display features detailed model ships and a full-size Guinness locomotive to reinforce the point that this brewery has always served a huge export market.
We’re also shown some truly fascinating bits of high-end brewerania, from the original safe used to keep samples of Guinness’s house yeast strain safe, to a sample of grains taken from Tutankhamun’s tomb, for analysis by the brewery’s world-leading science team.
Undeniably, there are bizarre, carnivalesque elements of the tour too, like the brilliant white tasting room – where guests are invited to sniff at dry ice topped pedestals to detect key Guinness aromas – or the bar that will print an image of your face onto the head of a pint; but even these things though are done so well that it’s hard to begrudge anyone their fun.
Appropriately, there’s an entire floor dedicated to Guinness’s art and advertising, which brought whimsy and surrealism into the beer world many decades before the craft revolution reached these shores. All the favourites are here: ostriches, toucans, fish on bicycles and (of course) surfing horses. It’s incredibly slick, and capably demonstrates how Guinness’s brand has managed to evolve over the years while retaining the same spirit.
The tour peaks – figuratively and literally – with a tasting in the extraordinary Gravity Bar, offering floor-to-ceiling panoramic views of Dublin from the very top of the Storehouse. It’s a truly breath taking setting to explore the range of beers brewed here, from its Foreign Extra Stout, a more heavily hopped, 7% ABV variant that is huge in Africa, to a West Indies Porter, a heritage style that is ruby red, hop-forward and carbonated rather than nitrogenated. For my money though, it’s a perfectly poured, silky smooth pint of draught Guinness that still beats the lot.
Looking to explore seven floors of the Guinness Storehouse for yourself? Book now at www.guinness-storehouse.com
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