Have A Pint And Learn Some History At Guinness Storehouse
I wasn't much of a fan of dark and heavy beers until I visited Dublin, Ireland in 1991 and went straight to the source of where the world's most famous stout, Guinness, was brewed.
It tasted fresher and had more flavour than what we got at home in Canada and impressed me so much that I'm now eager to sample as many stouts as I can.
The same thing could happen to you today when you venture out from one of the many hotels in Dublin and make your way to the Guinness Storehouse. It was originally built in 1904 to house the Guinness fermentation process and served that purpose until 1988.
It's now a tourist attraction in which the core is modelled on a giant pint glass that stretches from the ground floor reception area to the seventh floor Gravity Bar. If filled, the glass would hold about 14.3 million pints. Even for most Irishmen, that would qualify as a big night out.
The first floor houses a retail store, information on master brewer Arthur Guinness (who founded Guinness at the St. James's Gate location in 1759) and an exhibit focused on the four ingredients found in Guinness: water, barley, hops and yeast.
You'll learn about the brewing process, see a tasting laboratory, find out about the transportation of Guinness and discover the craftsmanship involved in coopering (the making of wooden casks) one floor up.
Guinness has used a variety of interesting advertising over the years, and a wide selection of its marketing tools can be viewed on the second floor. The third floor Choice Zone is an interactive exhibit that challenges visitors to look at their drinking habits and recognize the fine line between drinking to enjoy yourself and drinking to excess.
The fourth floor tells the story of the storehouse, while you can learn how to pour a pint of perfect Guinness on the fifth floor. It's also home to the Source Bar and Brewery Bar, where you can eat, drink and relax. There's also an exhibition of work by John Gilroy, the artist responsible for much of the famous Guinness advertising from the 1930s to the '60s.
Your last stop (unless you want to shop at the store on your way out) on your tour will be the seventh floor Gravity Bar, where you'll be given a pint of Guinness and can enjoy a great view of Dublin.
Guinness Storehouse is open seven days a week from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., but extends its hours by two in July and August. The admission price has increased from two Irish pounds when I first visited (and took a less elaborate tour, but was given three half-pints) almost 20 years ago to 15 Euros today. I guess that's the price of progress.