“ The Guinness breWedry / synonymous with its location at St James's Gate / has been in operation since 1759 when Arthur Guinness purchased and renovated the 'Rainbow BreWedry' and started to produce the porter that has since become renowned worldwide. St James's Gate / Dublin 8 / Tel: 01 453 6700 ext: 5155. „
When in Dublin, you can't avoid Guinness. Even if you choose not to drink any, it is everywhere - branded items in the souvenir shops, signs outside every bar, and tankers on every road. The brewery covers a huge area of land near Heuston Railway Station, and includes the Guinness Storehouse, one of the city's premier tourist attractions.
There is car parking available, however both the open-top bus companies stop right beside the door, which is how we got there. Entry is Euro14 for adults, and you can get Euro1 off with the Dublin Bus tour ticket. There is disabled access at the side of the building, and the whole place is wheelchair friendly, with lifts between all floors.
After paying for your ticket, you head up to the first floor where there are welcomes every five minutes - a cheerful Irish chap welcomed us to Guinness, told us a little of the history and what we would see on our visit. Also on this floor is the shop, which has a surprising array of Guinness-themed souvenirs - my partner was intrigued by the HP sauce with Guinness.
The first three floors of the attraction cover the making and history of Guinness. We learnt about the process and ingredients, and a little about the establishment of the brewery by Arthur Guinness in 1759, and the subsequent master brewers. One thing which really comes through in these areas is the dedication to perfection - only the best quality ingredients are used, and the product is closely inspected at every stage of the process.
The layout of the attraction throughout, but particularly in these early sections, is absolutely excellent. The building itself still very much has a feel of an old industrial building, with brick walls and steel girders. The displays themselves are well laid out, and hold your attention. There is a nice mixture of plaques to read and short videos to watch, and plenty of exhibits illustrating the making of Guinness - full size copper vats with swirling patterns projected onto them to show the brewing process is just one example. One of the first things you see when you enter from the shop and atrium is a large waterfall, showing the pure water used in making Guinness, which is all sourced from the nearby Wicklow Mountains; the availability of this water was one of the key reasons Arthur Guinness chose this site for his brewery. He signed a 9000 year lease for the land.
Once you have learned about the making of Guinness, you have a chance to sample the final product. The ticket price includes a pint of Guinness, but that comes later - this stage is a sample only. My partner chose not to have any as he knows he doesn't like it, but his mum and I decided to give it a go - she has never had it and it's a very long time since I sampled Guinness. When the lady serving up the samples heard that we were new to Guinness, she insisted on giving us a taste lesson, teaching us to use all five senses to get the best from the drink. We followed her instructions carefully, and were very pleasantly surprised to find that we both really enjoyed the taste! I was very glad we'd been taught how to drink it properly, as I didn't know that you shouldn't sip the foam, this being much more bitter tasting than the beer itself.
We continued making our way round the attraction, and saw some very interesting exhibits on cooperage (making the barrels) and advertising. Guinness advertising is of course very famous, and it is interesting to see how little the tone of it has changed over the years. There are also exhibits on transporting Guinness, complete with model ships and trains.
On the fourth floor, you have the first opportunity to have your pint of Guinness. The second choice is on the seventh floor, in the Gravity Bar, the highest bar in Dublin, offering 360 degree views of the city. This would be a great place to enjoy a pint, but for us what was offered on the fourth floor was a bit more interesting. Here we had the chance to pour our own pint, with the promise of a certificate if we got a perfect pint. The lady who had given us the taste lesson, Liz, was also teaching us how to pour a pint. As most people will know, there is an art to pouring Guinness. I have poured it before, when I worked in a local pub during uni holidays, but that was a long time ago and I was never properly taught. You have to inspect the glass, get the angle right, pour most of the pint then let it settle, and then top it off. It was good fun to pour our own, and we all got it right and got our certificates. The lesson takes place in a very nice bar, and we had a seat and drank some of our beer.
There are quite a few different places to eat through the Guinness Storehouse, from a cafe to a traditional Irish pub. We didn't visit any of them as we weren't ready for lunch, but they certainly looked nice. The attraction is spread over seven floors, but is fully accessible with lifts and ramps.
We spent about 2-3 hours going round the Guinness Storehouse, and it really was a highlight of our trip to Dublin. It was interesting, very well presented and good fun - plus I've learned that I like Guinness! Highly recommended, and a must for any visit to Dublin.
The Guinness Brewery can easily be reached in Dublin as both the green and red sightseeing hop on hop off buses stop there on their tour of the city. It costs 15 euro per adult to enter but if you buy online you will get a 10% discount. This is quite a popular attraction and we went early to avoid the crowds. Note, this isn't the actual real brewery now so you wont see any brewing. On the ground floor is a rather vast gift shop where you can buy almost anything endorsed by Guinness though it isn't cheap. The brewery itself has many many floors which brief you on the history of Guinness. You will learn about how the brewery was first created, how Guinness is made and the processes involved in making the black stuff. Further on up you get to learn about the numerous Guinness advertisements made over the years as well as all the different variations of drink that have been made. There are lots of multimedia tools designed to help the visitor learn and understand what it is that they are seeing.
The real treat though is the gravity bar at the top of the building. You get a 360 degree panoramic view of Dublin and can see all the sights of the city. What's more you get a free pint of Guinness when you're there!
There are lifts and escalators so it is quite disabled friendly. Allow at least a couple of hours for the tour.
I have now visited the Guinness store house on two separate occasions, the first time I was with someone who knew the manager therefore I had a personalised tour and I did not see it the way the usual tourists see it! The second time I was a tourist and went with my partner, we purchased a Dublin pass so we had quick entry and admission was free, however I believe the usual cost to enter is around 15Euro each and there are sometimes some queues.
When you reach the floor where the tour starts you can either wait until a tour is starting or go round yourself, we were on a day trip and did not want to kill time waiting therefore we went round by our selves.
There are 7 floors in the Guinness store house and if you are scared of heights I would avoid this museum at all costs as on the escalators you can see direct to the bottom floor and it is a very long way down!! There is a lift available for pushchairs and people with disabilities but you still can see the drop from the lifts.
The ground floor is where the shop is found and the tour starts its journey. This is the part of the storehouse where you learn about the ingredients that are used in a pint of Guinness. Barley, hops, yeast and water - there are some impressive displays and photo opportunities, i.e. there is a large fountain you can walk next to that represents water.
You then go up a flight of stairs that take you to the Arthur Guinness room which has a short film and explains how the original pint was created. You then follow up another flight of stairs to the tasting lab - I didn't see this the first time I went but was pleased it had been included this time as you got a small amount of Guinness to taste, which is ideal if you are unsure if you want to order the free pint when you get to the gravity bar. I was surprised how smooth it tasted as I am not a ale drinker and having had a sip of Guinness in England and hated it I found this taster direct from the brewery very tasty!
Then on to cooperage and transport, I found the cooperage part really interesting as it was fascinating to see how they managed to make the casks without using any adhesive and the skill involved was amazing, it's a shame trades like this had to come to a end. The transport section was as you would expect, a model train, boat etc - not very interesting.
Upwards and onwards and you find a small area showing some advertising pieces, it was nice seeing adverts you had long forgotten, but I feel this area was lacking something and could be expanded upon. On this floor you also find a coffee bar, however I can't rate this as I did not stop for this.
The museum then becomes very boring on floor 3, 4 and 5, and it feels that they have stuck things on the floor just to fill up the space. To be honest I would skip these areas! They do have a area to write messages...however they have no pens so unless you have one this is pointless.
The final floor is the gravity bar. This is a bar that gives you a 360 degree view of the city of Dublin, be warned it gets very hot up there, we went there on a freezing day in Dublin and it was a scorcher in the bar! The bar also gets very crowded with people enjoying their complementary pint of Guinness, soft drinks of Fanta, coke or lemonade are also available. This is also a pay bar so you can stay in the bar and enjoy additional pints if you wanted to.
All in all the museum was ok, but I strongly feel its needs some improvements, especially on floors 2,3,4,5. Also for some reason it doesn't have a floor 6 which is confusing and makes you thing you have missed something. Its well worth a visit but personally if you only have time to visit a few places it may be worth giving this one a miss, unless you are a big fan of Guinness!
The Guinness Storehouse is the main visitors section and museum at St James Gate, Dublin. It promises much and, for me, was one of the must see attractions when visiting Dublin.
Costing E14.00, about £10.00, the Guinness Storehouse promises a history of the company and the product, as well as the founder, Arthur Guinness, not to mention a free pint when you reach the top. The storehouse itself is within walking distance from the city centre, about 20-30 mins, and is on many bus routes as well as all of the tour bus routes. It is shaped like a (very) large pint glass with the head of the beer being the Gravity Bar where you get your free pint and a great view of the city.
You enter the large building, pay your money, and then take a self-guided tour up and up. Immediately, you are shown the process of brewing Guinness and each of the important ingredients. The large room is very dark and the rush of running water is ever present, showing its importance to the whole process; contrary to popular belief, it is not, and never was, the water of the Liffe that go into Guinness, but local water which was for the towns use. Large glass pipes filled with the ingredients, such as hops, are situated all over with descriptions of how they are changed / used in the process. However, due to the darkness, you cant really see what they look like, thus negating the need for the clear pipes. The information about them isnt very detailed, is difficult to read, and connoisseurs of brewery tours or brewing will be disappointed at the lack of real information. You do learn little bits, but nothing of great value. The LED shows ans subdued lighting do little to help this, and, indeed, often hider the would-be reader.
Up another level is the history of St James Gate and the storehouse itself. The information, again patchy and of little depth, tells you about the Storehouses original use as, er, a storehouse. It shows where it was situated in the original brewery and includes a couple of machines that were used there. Walking inside the giant copper brewing kettle is interesting, giving a great idea of the scale and size of manufacture. You are promised that you can inhale the fragrance of hops, which remains embedded in the metal, but any discernable and distinguishable odours have long since departed. This trip down the history of brewing is interesting, but far from gripping, and the quality of the information and lack of depth is a constant bother. It is a shame that, with such a magnificent name, history and provenance, Guinness couldnt do better for themselves.
Moving onwards and upwards the only gem of the Storehouse appears; the cooperage. This small area shows you the tools of the trade for coopers, or cask / barrel makers. Inset in barrels are TV screens showing a traditional cooper at the Guinness brewery making a barrel. This is truly a great thing to see. I never imagined the amount of time, skill and hard work that went into each and every barrel!
On the same floor is the history of St James Gate and brief, un-detailed accounts of how and when it grew. What is interesting is that some of the improvements and additions were of the Chicago school of architecture, which itself grew out of the great Chicago fire. And, if thats the most interesting thing I can remember about this section, it shows how interesting the whole this was!
On the next floor is a twee, saccharine homage to Arthur Guinness. You see a video about his life, well, little bits of it, and how he founded and adapted the St James Gate site and the product much loved today. It makes him out to be a great philanthropist, social redresser and family man. Who knows, maybe he was, but, coming out of a large building dripping in emblems, logos and product placement, I wasnt entirely convinced that this was a true, fair and well-balanced account. Of course, it also notes the most famous tenancy in brewing history; the 9,000 year lease at £45 per year that Arthur signed. It also tells of early difficulties, not least the city council trying to cut of his water supply! At the end, though, is the worst thing; a smooth, refined Irish accent appeals to you to raise a glass to Arthur hell appreciate it. I was glad to leave that section after that, only to be confronted with those words in foot high letters on the wall as I went through to the next section.
Upstairs is, possibly, the second most interesting part of the tour. A whole floor is devoted to memorabilia from the Guinness company, from small, novelty giveaways to a great section on advertising history. It shows examples of TV adverts, including Rutger Hauers bizarre, although appealing, turn as The Man with the Guinness, and artwork, such as the toucan and zookeeper. Delightfully mainly free of the poor informative posters in other sections, the Guinness people had the good sense to let these little pieces of advertising and memorabilia history talk for themselves, and, compared to the rest of the displays, they shouted.
Next section: Irish bars and interesting and amazing facts about them rubbish!
Finally, we reached the top of the pint and the Gravity Bar. We partook of a tipple and experienced, arguably, the finest part of the tour; no, it had nothing to do with the Guinness, or the fact that we could now leave and rest our aching feet. The view from the Gravity Bar is excellent, and you can see for miles, even to some of the green fields that Ireland is famed for. With a near 360degree view, the city lays out in front of you, with small signs etched onto the windows pointing out various points of interest, though I was never sure which was which; Is that St Patricks there or Trinity College? Perhaps Im not one for sightseeing at such sights.
Back down at the bottom is the gift shop tons of memorabilia covered head to toe in Guinness logos, harps and, of course, toucans. The quality is, generally, good, but it is quite expensive, but no more so than other outlets stocking their wares. On a lighter note, and I swear this is true, we went to the Information Desk. Wed got off one of the tour busses getting there, but were going to walk back into town. How long will it take to walk to the Gaiety Theatre? I asked. About 25 minutes, the young lady behind the desk replied. But if you walk quickly, it wont take that long. And, by the way, she wasnt Irish.
All in all, the Guinness Storehouse was a disappointment. It promised much and delivered little. The best parts for me seemed to be things thrown in to take up space and the main features were of little or no significance or interest. You walk through a tall tower of branding and product placement, hearing how great the brand, people and company are, but are given little evidence or information on why, exactly, Guinness is great. They say, often, the Guinness is good for you; Im guessing thats only if youre a chiropodist or share holder.
If in Dublin, well, you have to go, dont you? But dont expect it to be like they say in the brochure! Youll get tired feet and a headache from reading in the dark, and when you are let out into the light, not even the view and free pint can make it all better.
For a review on Dublin in general, please see http://members.dooyoo.co.uk/destinations-national/dublin-in-general/1004186/)