A pint of plain, a pint of the black stuff, that drink with the toucan — no matter how you know it, Guinness stout is an Irish icon. And there’s no better place to experience it than at the Guinness Storehouse, located at St. James’ Gate Brewery in Dublin.
Of course, some travelers don’t like the Guinness Storehouse. It’s “too gimmicky”; a tourist trap not even worth the free pint at the end.
I am not one of those people.
I love the Storehouse; especially that pint at the top, with a 360° view over Dublin. In my opinion, you don’t need to be a stout-lover, or even someone who drinks, to enjoy a trip to St. James’ Gate.
Unsure if you should visit the Guinness Storehouse? Here are 8 reasons why you should:
This is not your typical stodgy museum, with static photos and boring captions. This is an experience for all the senses. There are videos everywhere; some have interactive touchscreens, others can even take photos of you. One on floor, you can learn to pour a proper pint. There’s even a thundering, spotlit waterfall in the very first room you walk into. Learning about water, hops, barley, and yeast (the four ingredients that go into creating Guinness) has never been more exciting.
Outstanding Displays of Design and Creativity
I’m a sucker for good design, and the Guinness Storehouse is an oasis for my right brain (that’s the creative side, non-nerds) — especially impressive considering that the process of beer production is so industrial and could easily become quite boring.
Besides being aesthetically pleasing, the quips and captions spread across the floors are clever and well-written; the fonts used are easy-to-read and brand-appropriate. The creativity even extends the building itself: seven floors, built around a rising glass-shaped atrium? Why, you’re standing in one GIANT pint glass (that if filled, could hold 14.3 million pints of Guinness!).
The Storehouse also houses an Advertising Gallery, where you can browse centuries’ worth of memorabilia, watch old Guinness commercials, and learn the (often funny) history behind their many award-winning advertising campaigns.
Or not so award-winning. For example, The Atlantic Bottle (1959):
The Longest Lasting Guinness Advertising Campaign of All Time – In 1954, as a publicity stunt, 50,000 Guinness bottles were dropped into the Atlantic Ocean. The stunt was repeated with 150,000 bottles in 1959, to celebrate the Guinness bicentenary. They are still being recovered today, off the coast of the USA and Canada.
Learn some History!
It’s not just about beer! As you go through exhibits you’re also walking through 200 years of Irish and world history. The history of Arthur Guinness and how he came to acquire St. James’ Gate and brew his famous beverage. The history of the industrial revolution and cooperage, or the hard task of making proper barrels to hold Guinness. The history of biochemistry and statistics, as the t-statistic was first developed by a chemist working in quality control for Guinness. Even the history of Guinness employees — there’s a kiosk where you can search your family name to see if any of your ancestors worked at St. James’ Gate (as expected, “Zhou” didn’t turn up many results).
Even the history of transportation comes to life in a gallery displaying old models of planes, trains, ships, horse-drawn carriages, and every other method Guinness has been distributed around the world in the last two and a half centuries.
Who knew there were so many ways to consume a pint? If you’re looking for a recipe to incorporate Guinness into your next barbecue or dessert, you’ll find it here: take a recipe card from the food board, or sample a number of Guinness dishes at one of the four restaurants in the Storehouse. You’ll leave with so many new recipes, you could create a four-course meal with Guinness alone.
During my last visit to the Storehouse, the room behind the Advertising Gallery was an exhibit dedicated to the art of John Gilroy, the man behind several famous Guinness ads (My Goodness My Guinness, Lovely Day for a Guinness, etc); while another area invited you to write postcards for fellow visitors to read, under a large wall that quoted, “Home is not where you live but where they understand you.” My last visit wasn’t as fruitful (all I found was a room playing a short video on repeat about Guinness sports sponsorships around the world), but I’m sure even better exhibits are already in the works.
A Proper Pint
Not only will you get a fantastic pint of stout here — and properly poured at that — you’ll learn how to appreciate it. You’ll learn what to look and listen for while your pint is being poured (119.5 seconds for a proper pour; the hiss of gas that is 80% nitrogen, 20% CO2); at what temperatures Guinness should be stored and served (9° and 6°C, respectively); and what to smell and taste as you take your first sip (bitter hops, rich roasted barley, sweet malt). With all the conditions required for a perfect pint of Guinness, you’ll finally understand why Guinness just does not taste the same outside Ireland.
Every visit to the Guinness Storehouse ends in the Gravity Bar, where you will find one of the best views of Dublin (and arguably, one of the best pints). Aim for sunset — on a clear day, you’ll be able to enjoy your free pint while watching the sun go down over the Wicklow Mountains.
Alright, even if you don’t get a clear day, the view isn’t too shabby.
A Lesson in Believing in Yourself
At the base of the glass atrium, you can see the contract that started it all. In 1759, Arthur Guinness signed a 9,000-year lease for a brewery at St. James’ Gate; today, Guinness is recognized and consumed in over 100 countries. A lesson that it pays to be bold — and that a little faith in yourself can go a long, long way.