On this particular beautiful November morning, we found ourselves at the gate of the Guinness Storehouse, Ireland's most popular tourist attraction. If you plan to visit the Guinness storehouse, our advise is to buy the tickets in advance on their website (Guinness store website).
After having paid the entrance, a colourful escalator brings you the the starting point of the tour. Here you will find a large Guinness store, an office where you can collect translator units for the non English speaking visitors, ... The building where the Guinness Storehouse is located was used as a fermentation plant for St James's Gate brewery up until 1988. The interior of the building was stripped and a glass atrium was installed which resembles the shape of a pint of Guinness. At the bottom of the atrium within the floor, you will find a copy of the 9000 year lease signed by Arthur Guinness.
The Guinness Storehouse exists out of 7 interactive floors, the groundfloor introduces you to the ingredients required to make a pint of Guinness. The other floors make you familiar with the brewery it's founder, the brewing process, transportation, cooperage, advertisement and on the top floors you find some bars and a restaurant. So let's start the tour:
Groundfloor - Ingredients & brewing story On this level, you become familiar with the beer's 4 ingredients: barley, hop , yeast & water.
Interesting was the amount of work Guinness has been doing in regard to water conservation projects.
Next, we were introduced to the actual brewing process - from roasting barley to create that distinctive aroma and colour of your pint of Guinness to how 30 million bubbles give you that creamy head on each pint, all is explained through visual displays. And that creamy head on a pint of Guinness, we have a man named Michael Ash to thank for that one.
Floor 1 - cooperage / transportation / Arthur Guinness
On this floor, you learn all about the way Guinness was transported around the world, from boats to trains. The cooperage area explains how the wooden barrels were made. On display are the many tools which were used to make wooden barrels. Another escalator brings you to floor 2
Floor 2 - Tasting
Excited, we arrived at floor level 2 which is dedicated to tasting. Here they explain how to drink a Guinness, allowing you to enjoy that pint to it's fullest. Your senses will be pushed to the limit, from the aroma's to the actual tasting. So how to drink that pint of Guinness - take a deep breath - take a decent sip and hold it in your mouth for 3 counts, then swallow. And then repeat over and over until your glass is finished.
Floor 3 - The world of advertising
Everybody knows the Guinness signs and ads - they have always been very inventive, from the weird to the visual stunning , you can discover it all on this floor. We met Gilroy himself, we met the fish on a bike, we got to relive the advertisements
Floor 4 - Guinness academy / Connoisseur experience
On this floor, you learn to pour a pint of Guinness. Or you can opt to go on the connoisseur experience where they will make you into a Guinness expert (additional cost).
Floor 5 - food and drink Another floor up is food and drink, a restaurant where you can sample many dishes prepared with the black stuff itself. We didn't really hang around on this floor as we were to excited to go to the famous level 7 - also known as the gravity bar
Floor 7 - Gravity bar The gravity bar is just amazing , in the middle you find the bar where you get your complimentary Guinness, all around is glass opening up the views across Dublin city and as far as the Wicklow Mountains.
So while sipping our pint of Guinness, we had time to reflect back on our visit. If you expect to see a working factory, you will be disappointed as the Guinness storehouse is a museum with interactive parts thrown into the mix. We loved the building that much that we actually enjoyed just looking at the architecture of the Guinness storehouse. The building is a mix of old with new, where glass meets old brick and steel - it is a massive tumbs up for the building. The different floors also get the tumbs up, from the very visual displays to the interactive digustations, it is just brilliant. A tumbs down is the price which we believe is a bit steep, although it doesn't seem to stop the 1.6 million yearly visitors. If you think about it, that would be a yearly turnover of around 32 million a year just from the Guinness storehouse visitors - not bad for a tourist attraction.