After roaming through Trinity College, the Christchurch Cathedral, and viewing the Georgian architecture of downtown Dublin, we made one of the most anticipated stops of our days in Ireland, the Guinness Storehouse. The Storehouse was once a fermentation plant for the company from 1904-1988, but has now been completely redesigned to provide the ultimate experience for visitors to learn about the history and making of Guinness.
Arthur Guinness signed the famous 9000 year lease for the site of the future Guinness brewery at St. James’s Gate in 1759 for a grand total of 50 euros. The original site began with four acres, and has now grown to over 50 acres and the brewery produces about three million pints of stout every day.
The Storehouse has seven floors, each offering a different view of the world of Guinness. The tour is self guided, so you can spend as much or as little time as you would like at any particular point. There are many signs, videos, and interactive programs along the way to provide information and entertainment.
The journey begins on the ground floor, where all the ingredients for making the Guinness beer are explained. The secret recipe of the brew contains only four ingredients: water, barley, hops, and yeast.
The Guinness brewery purchases about two thirds of barley grown in Ireland, which adds up to about 100,000 tonnes. The brewery has its own Hop and Barley Buyer whose sole job is to monitor the harvest and select only the highest quality grains. Guinness uses a combination of malted, unmalted, and roasted barley in its brew. Barley is what provides the basic raw ingredient for fermentation, which contributes to a balanced flavor. The roasted barley is what gives the beer its characteristic ruby red coloration. Hops are an extremely tempermental plant only grown in two regions of the world. They require a very specific amount of sunlight and grow up to fifteen feet high, making it tricky to harvest, especially way back when we didn’t have today’s technology. Like the barley, the Hop Buyer chooses only the highest quality hops for Guinness from countries such as Australia, the Czech Republic, Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States, and New Zealand. Hops add flavor to the stout and act as a natural preservative. The next ingredient is yeast. Legend has it the yeast used in each brew today is descended from Aruthur Guinness’ original strain of yeast. Keeping the same strain of yeast ensures consistency in the making of Guinness. Interestingly, the yeast used for Guinness is only grown at St. James’s Gate and is so valuable to the company that they keep it locked up. Yeast is an alchemist, which means that it will transform the sugars and nutrients of barley into alcohol. Water is the most important ingredient for the brew, and Arthur Guinness chose St. James’s Gate as the location of his brewery because of its excellent, high quality water supply. The water that is used comes only from the Wicklow mountains, and is a soft water with a low mineral content.
Floor one goes into detail about the brewing process and transportation of Guinness. Guinness is brewed in 50 countries around the world. I will provide just a quick overview of how the brewing takes place. The first step is to prepare the barley. It is malted, roasted, milled, and mixed with hot water and mashed. The resulting liquid is filtered and boiled with hops. After that, yeast is added and the fermentation process begins. The beer is clarified, matured, and prepared for packaging. This entire process continues nonstop every day, all year long.
The main event on floor two is the Guinness Taste Experience. This is where you learn how to fully appreciate Guinness. The Taste Experience shows you how to hone your senses so as to truly enjoy the sight, aroma, flavor, taste, and feel of a pint of Guinness.
Floor three showed all of the different and eccentric ways that Guinness has been advertised over the years. The following pictures show some of the iconic characters used for Guinness’ advertisements.
The highlight of the fourth floor is the Guinness Academy. Here you are able to exchange your ticket stub to learn from the best how to pour the perfect pint of Guinness. The bartender demonstrated the six step process for pouring Guinness, which takes a total of 119.5 seconds to complete. They even give you a certificate after you have completed the task. This has definitely been my greatest achievement of 2016! After pouring my pint of Guinness, I gave it a taste test. (Disclaimer: 18 is the legal age to consume alcoholic beverages in Ireland). Although I did not particularly care for the stout, I was able to easily give the remainder of my drink to a fellow classmate enthusiast.
Floor five housed four different eateries and bars. I went to the the Brewer’s Dining Hall and got a plate of very delicious Guinness beef stew, made with freshly brewed Guinness.
One of the neatest experiences at the Storehouse was the Gravity Bar on the very top floor. Here you can relax and enjoy a pint of Guiness while basking in a complete 360 degree view of the city of Dublin. The view was really amazing, and my pictures could never do it justice.
We ended our day at the Guinness Storehouse in none other than the gift shop, which had quite an expansive inventory. You could find just about anything you could ever want with the Guinness logo on it. They sold just about everything ranging from t-shirts to Christmas ornaments.
Cheers to everyone back in the the States! Or as the Irish say, Sláinte!
Post by: Brianna Voelker