Dublin, Ireland

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August 22nd 2018
Published: December 3rd 2019
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Belfast, Ireland to Dublin, Ireland

I arrive back to Dublin from Belfast. As I was here already once before, and I got to look around, there was really only one more thing that I really wanted to do. I wanted to tour the Guinness factory, and to walk around in that area. With this day being my last, I wanted to make the most of it to the best of my ability.

I settle into my hostel, and quickly make my way towards my destination. Not really sure how to get to the Guinness factory, I relied on a map to direct me. It was well within walking distance for me, as I am used to trudging several miles if need be. Weather permitting, this was my plan. Luckily it was not all that far. As I journeyed, all along the way I was just looking at the beauty of Dublin, and realizing just how different it is from my home in the United States. Just don't have the buildings right beside the water in my little neck of the woods, and you certainly cannot just walk to wherever you want to go. I love the European cities and surrounding areas that I have been blessed to visit and see over the years. I believe I can say that I have seen what true beauty this world can be.

So I approach the Guinness factory, and from the distance I can see the haystacks coming from the tops of the buildings. I get to the Rupert Guinness Theatre, and I knew I was there. It took a minute, but I didn't get turned around too much.The Guinness Brewery is set up like a walled city. I walk around and decide I needed to go into the Guinness Storehouse. This was the right place. Come to find out, the Guinness Storehouse is the number one international visitor attraction in Dublin. I wanted to look around at the souvenirs more, but more so I wanted to take the tour. I purchase my ticket and in I go.

What a large place this was. The building in which the Storehouse is located was constructed in 1902 as a fermentation plant for the St. James's Gate Brewery (this is where yeast was added to the brew). It was designed in the style of the Chicago School of Architecture and was the first multi-story steel-framed building to be constructed in Ireland. Come to find out, the Storehouse covers seven floors surrounding a glass atrium and shaped in the form of a pint of Guinness.

I had decided on a self tour where I could go at my own pace. The self guided tour takes you around from the beginning and explains the foundations and beginning of the Guinness brand. At the base of the atrium lies a copy of the 9,000-year lease signed by Arthur Guinness on the brewery site. This was pretty neat to see. After you pass through the atrium, you continue the tour and walk through the facility floor by floor, and are explained and shown the beginning stages of making this local product. For me, I wanted to discover what goes into making the “Black Stuff” - the ingredients, the process, the passion.

The ground floor introduces the beer's four ingredients (water, barley, hops and yeast), and the brewery's founder, Arthur Guinness. Other floors feature the history of the Guinness advertising, and include an interactive exhibit on responsible drinking. I was excited to visit all of the floors, and with me having no other plans or agenda, I could spend as much or as little time as I wanted here.

Throughout the tour you will not see active brewing, but there is a lot of great and interesting information to learn as you make your way up the storehouse. I spent several hours here just walking around, reading the facts on the walls, and watching videos that were present. I had such a lovely time. Come to find out, in May 2011, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip visited the Storehouse as part of a state visit to Ireland. I thought that was pretty neat.

With the admission ticket you also get to attend what is called "The Guinness Academy". In the Guinness Academy, guests are invited to learn to pour their own pint of Guinness. The pouring process for Guinness is different than most other beers in the world due to its use of nitrogen gas instead of CO2 for carbonation. The nitrogen gives the beer its creamy texture, and this makes pouring it a little tricky. When I walked into the Guinness Academy, I was greeted by a friendly Guinness employee and started learning how to pour the beer. You were allowed to taste the product, as well as pour your own to teach the proper way to pour the perfect Guinness from a tap. Now I am not a drinker, but this intrigued me to be able to do this. Come to find out, the Guinness Academy was located in a place called the Perfect Pint bar. I guess this is fitting for what we were doing.

Now in the Perfect Pint bar, again visitors may pour their own pint of Guinness, and they even get their selfie printed on top of a pint. After watching a short demonstration, we were allowed to pour our own pint. They asked for volunteers, and of course I was one of the first to raise my hand. I took my turn, and low and behold I poured the perfect pint. The process is simple but a little time consuming. The glass is essentially filled about ¾ of the way, and then is left to settle for a minute or two. Once the beer settles, it’s time to fill the glass and drink. It takes a little work and some time to pour a glass of Guinness, but it is fun to watch the beer settle into the glass. The darkness of the beer contrasts with the white foamy bubbles as the beer goes into the glass and creates a phenomenon known as the Guinness surge. This is pretty cool. Once we had successfully poured our pints, we were presented with a certificate of completion from the Guinness Academy, and of course it was time to drink the freshly poured pint.

I spent a little more time walking around, and I decided I had seen all I wanted to see. I make my way down and out to the souvenir shop. I look around, buy a couple of things, and out I go. I walk back towards my hostel thrilled that I had this experience. For me, this was an opportunity I just couldn't pass up being here in Dublin, and I was thankful that I did it.

Well, another year of European travel has come and gone, and I am blessed to be able to do this year over year. Saddened to leave on the one hand, but hopeful that my experiences will continue far into the future. Until next time Dublin...I bid you farewell.

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