During our trip to Ireland, we were told by more than a few trusted sources that a visit to the Guinness Storehouse was a must-do. Since we had a few days to spend in Dublin, we put the tour of the Guinness brewery towards the top of our short list.
Guinness and Ireland go hand in hand, and it is obvious that the brewery is big business in Dublin City. As we approached the storehouse, there were lines of visitors waiting to get in clear out the front door and onto the sidewalk.
The storehouse tour began on the ground floor and went up seven floors to the Gravity Bar, which is located on the top floor of the building. Each floor was dedicated to a specific part of the brewing process, the history, the advertising, and finally the tasting of that delicious stout known as Guinness.
Beginning on the ground floor, we met a guide in the center of the storehouse as she spoke into a headset microphone explaining Arthur Guinness, his vision, and the 9,000 year lease he signed in 1759 (it is on display under glass in the floor). From that point of the tour onward, we found ourselves leading our own self-guided tour of the brewery, which you can choose to do as quickly as you can or at a leisurely pace.
The displays for brewing on the first two floors were interesting as they showed us the ingredients needed to make the delicious Guinness. Moving onward, we stepped into an interactive audio/visual display, which was terribly difficult to transition into with so many people around us, plus you have to stand in a certain spot to trigger the looped video. We tried to listen to the audio in front of us, but all we could hear were the other ten audio files from the people around us. Emily and I found it difficult to focus on one at a time, so we moved on.
One of the experiences on the tour was learning how to pour the perfect pint, which, unless you are becoming a bartender (which most bars will instruct you) the whole concept seemed like a waste of our time. You do not actually get to taste your perfect pint, just learn how to pour one. The line was super long, and we really did not need a perfect pint pourer certificate to add to our scrapbook, so we moved upwards.
The transportation and cooperage section was actually interesting, and I learned a few things about how Guinness was barreled and shipped around the world.
I was excited to see the advertisement section, but even that was a disappointment. I wanted to see artwork from Gilroy (the man who is credited with the animals and the zookeeper ads from the 1950s), but they only had about five of his creations on the wall, as well as a cutout where you could be in one of his advertisements. Not exactly what I was hoping for, but it was still cool to see his artwork, as well as the advertisements over the decades.
Speaking with live people was a challenge on the tour. The only interaction with a live person in the Guinness Storeroom was when we bought our tickets and when the tour first began. The next live person we spoke to was the bartender in the Gravity Bar, seven floors up, and after the bartender, it was the retail shop attendant. The workers were relatively young, so you know that customer service is not a priority, but it was nice to see so many younger people employed.
The whole storehouse experience was like Disney merchandising and ESPN Zone restaurants met at a social function, fell madly in love at first sight, made a few bad life choices, got a quickie marriage in Vegas, and nine months later the Guinness Storeroom was born into this world.
As with any name brand it is all about the merchandising. The Guinness retail section is a huge part of the ground floor, so they get you coming and going. They have plenty of nice options, but at some point you need to ask yourself, “Do I need a pack of Guinness golf tees or a set of Guinness oven mitts?”
The best part of the “tour” of the Guinness Storehouse is the view from the Gravity Bar on the top floor, where the bartenders will pour you the perfect pint. Other than the fantastic view of Dublin City below, there is absolutely no reason to spend 20 euro (18 if you book online) to step into this Disneyland for Guinness lovers. Save your money and have a pint at one of the many pubs in Temple Bar or Grafton Street a short walk away.
The “complimentary” pint isn’t even worth it (in my opinion), due to the amount of people jockeying for position to get a drink, then finding a place to sit (which is unlikely) or in our case, to stand to enjoy our Guinness.
That being said, they are making money hand over fist (they got mine), so one mediocre blog from me will not hurt their profit margin.