The Legendary Black Stuff – The Guinness Storehouse, Dublin
The Guinness story feels to me like it is interwoven with the history of society in so many ways. Exploring The Guinness Storehouse, Dublin, the site of the original St James’s Gate Brewery, is like taking a walk through different periods in culture, transport, engineering, reminders of how society has changed. When Arthur Guinness signed the 9000 year lease at the site in 1759 to start brewing this now world famous ale, I wonder if he ever dreamt how recognisable this brand would become.
Guinness has become more than a brand, it’s a tradition, an institution, a part of culture, an influence on culture, it’s crazy really that a simple beer, made from four simple ingredients; water, yeast, barley, and hops; to the same recipe since 1759, could become so recognisable and such a big part of culture throughout the world. It has stood the test of time like nothing else.
I feel like I have had a connection with Guinness for a long long time, although I’m guessing there are a lot of people who feel like this! My favourite toy when I was a baby was a cuddly toucan…Little Arthur, the Guinness toucan used in advertising campaigns! I can remember my dad letting me try a sip when I was a kid and thinking “How can anyone enjoy drinking this?” (oh how that has changed!) and my grandad telling me how Guinness was good for you and that they used to tell pregnant women to drink it as it was full of iron.
It is definitely fair to say that I was excited about visiting Ireland’s number one tourist attraction. It was full of little strange moments of excitement, the moment I saw that gate…the now Instagram famous gate! Seeing the words St James’s Gate Brewery, entering the Storehouse was, for me, like Charlie entering the chocolate factory!
The Guinness Storehouse takes you through seven floors of every aspect of the company. My favourite part? A look through the history of the advertising campaigns, that flick through cultural history. The Guinness adverts have been amongst the most memorable and imaginative ever. Off the wall, definitely created by thinking outside of the box, pure genius!
Who can forget the images of the Guinness surfers, chased by those white horses emerging from the waves, the pounding of the drums, a level of innovation and creativity never really seen before in advertising. Or the Sapeurs and that awesome song by The Heavy – What Makes A Good Man? I bought that album due to that advert! Then there was the tongue in cheek, the confusing, the thought provoking, this was time travel through popular culture.
It also reminds you how regulation has had an affect on advertising and how the world has changed from one where doctors told people to smoke to help them relieve stress. It made me think wow…most of this had been within my life time or from not long before I was born really…what will the world be like in the future…
Tradition & History
There is also a big section of the Storehouse which focusses on the ingredients, the recipe, and how Guinness is made, which was pretty interesting, finding out that they have stuck to the exact same recipe and try as hard as possible to keep every drop of Guinness which leaves the brewery tasting the same as when it left on the first ship setting sail for Britain in 1769.
You are also transported through time in relation to how the beer was transported throughout the world! The different incarnations the beer took due to the rigours involved in the travels. There is no angle left uncovered here, those expecting a visit to a brewery will be very much surprised this is an interactive journey through the history of everything involved in Guinness since it was first brewed. The recipe, the method, the barrels it is stored in, the transportation, the marketing, it is an interesting place even if you have no interest in the beer at all!
There are so many highlights to a visit here, many people love the experience of being told properly how to pour the perfect pint of Guinness…something I had practice from in a previous life working at a bar! It was still something I just had to do, pour the perfect pint of Guinness at the Guinness Storehouse? It’s up there with taking a gondola ride in Venice right?
There is also an awesome tasting experience which is so well put together it is like taking part in a piece of interactive theatre! You are walked through a tunnel and emerge into a bright white room designed to bring your senses to life. Here you are given a small glass of Guinness which you take through into a room with an expert taster who talks you through the method of tasting the ale properly. Taking a big sip through the foam head and allow the beer to move around every part of your mouth, there is no spitting into a bucket here!
Then there is the Gravity bar at the top of the Storehouse. A place where you can really enjoy a drink and relax with stunning 360 degree views over Dublin. The perfect finish to a really enjoyable visit to a great attraction.
Much more than a brewery tour
A trip to the Guinness Storehouse is a tour of a brewery, a trip to a museum, an interactive experience, it’s theatrical, informative, and really good fun! There are cafes and restaurants, bars, it really is a first class attraction and a must visit when in Dublin.
Our visit to the Storehouse took around 3 hours, pre booking your ticket is a must as it is so so popular! You can book skip-the-line admission through Expedia here for £18. You can also book your ticket directly through the Guinness Storehouse website here.
Where to stay?
We stayed at The Croke Park Hotel, a brilliant four star hotel with a big focus on customer service located just outside the city centre across the road from the legendary Croke Park stadium. Read about our experience staying there here. Read about everything else we got up to during a fantastic 24 hours in Dublin here.
Happy St Patrick’s Day!
Thanks for reading! Have a merry St Patrick’s Day…and Happy Travels!