Guinness Storehouse

The Guinness Storehouse is Ireland’s most visited tourist attraction with over 1.1 million visitors in 2022. This is a little down on pre lockdown numbers but it is still Ireland’s favourite tourist destination. Indeed the lockdowns forced a pivot towards embracing domestic day trippers. With Dublin full of wonderful things to do, I want to help you decide if it is worth your while.

To be honest my first impressions of Guinness storehouse was that it was an overly commercial venture with little cultural and educational value. If it is genuine history and culture you are after than I strongly recommend a visit to the National Musseum , National gallery, Trinity College and the book of Kells or indeed Kilmainham Jail. In some respects the average pub has more culture to offer than the Guinness Storehouse. But to look for culture here, is to miss the point

Having said all that, the Guinness Storehouse is an interesting place. It is an interesting ode to our modern culture of branding and commerce. It is living proof of the expression “nothing succeeds like success”. Commercial branding is, of course, a hall of mirrors and the Guinness storehouse is effectively that. It is a mirror to our society and culture. The brand is legendary because it is successful, successful because it is legendary. And the Guinness storehouse is opulent and translucent in its depiction of all this. Come and look at the legendary advertisements it tells us. Admire our marketing genius and sink a pint of the legendary black stuff after, it intones with a knowing wink and mischievous smile. Guinness is the magician who can’t resist telling you how it’s done and knows that you will love him for it anyway. Guinness knows that even though you have seen the magicians trick you will still be seduced by the magic.

For all this chuzpuh, marketing brilliance and pychological double bluff Guinness deserves a visit. It does make a perfect foil for a morning spent exploring a museum or art gallery. The exhibits on advertising are excellent but the sections on brewing are pretty ordinary and standard for this kind of thing. There is also the oppertunity to learn how to “pull a pint” which celebrates the art of creating “the perfect pint” from the tap and there is also the Gravity  bar on the top floor which has wonderful views across the city. It also has an excited and  almost skittish atmosphere and the Guinness is of course creamy and delicious.

And really why not come here? It’s where everyone goes, isn’t it ?

An Ode to the black stuff

This is one of Flann O Brien’s poems –

The Workman’s friend

This is one of Flann O Brien’s poems –

When things go wrong and will not come right,
Though you do the best you can,
When life looks black as the hour of night –
A pint of plain is your only man.

When money’s tight and hard to get
And your horse has also ran,
When all you have is a heap of debt –
A pint of plain is your only man.

When health is bad and your heart feels strange,
And your face is pale and wan,
When doctors say you need a change,
A pint of plain is your only man.

When food is scarce and your larder bare
And no rashers grease your pan,
When hunger grows as your meals are rare –
A pint of plain is your only man.

In time of trouble and lousey strife,
You have still got a darlint plan
You still can turn to a brighter life –
A pint of plain is your only man.

In that spirit here is a little ode to the black stuff and how it is made.

In the clandestine chambers of St. James’s Gate, where the aroma of roasted barley intertwines with the whispers of bygone brewers, the alchemical dance of Guinness creation unfolds. Behold the process, a ritual as sacred as a confessional booth.

First, the choicest malted barley, darkly roasted, takes center stage. Like an alchemist’s concoction, this malt is mashed, awakening the sugars that will fuel the transformation into an alcoholic elixer.. Water, pure as a penitent’s prayer, intertwines with the malt, birthing the wort – the elixir’s primordial essence. Wort is the name given to the sweet infusion created by mixing roasted, mashed barley and water.

Now comes the magic of fermentation, where yeast, the mischievous spirit of the brewery, frolics in the wort’s depths. A symphony of bubbling vats follows as the stout takes its form.

But patience is paramount. A languorous maturation in the darkened cathedral of aging vessels bestows the stout with its velvety complexity. The cascade of nitrogen, a divine touch, grants it the ethereal creaminess that kisses the lips with each sip. The final touch is added by Nitrogen, which gives the stout a creamy flavour. Another dollop of Nitrogen is added when pouring to further enhance the creaminess.

Finally, the pouring. A carefully calibrated dance, the tap handle pulled just so, as if coaxing the elixir from its slumber. The darkened body crowned by a celestial head, the perfect pint emerges – a sacrament to be savored in the hallowed halls of any reputable establishment.

It is believed by stout aficionados that distance from the brewary affects the quality of the stout. This is a controversial topic of conversation – other factors include proper handling and storage of the stout. In any event we should be expecting a beautiful pint in the fabled rooftop bar at the top of the Guinness storehouse. And of course that is what we get. The pint at the top of Guinness is sublime and the views are great too !

So is it worth visiting

Well, if you are still reading this blog than absolutely. You have to get in to the ironic spirit of modern day consumerism. It’s a postmodern dalliance with shameless, brilliant branding and surrealist money making. Let’s face it. It is where art meets money. Most people enjoy it. But on the negative side, I would say that it does lack a bit of a personal touch. Ireland excels at delivering excellent tourist experiences with a personal touch; a local tour guide for example to talk you through or about the experience. Guinness does not really supply that the tour is self guided, so bring your own sense of fun and a surrealist ( if not a cynical) squint in the eye will help too !

A history of Guinness storehouse

The Guinness Storehouse officially opened its doors to the public on December 2, 2000, marking a significant chapter in the history of the St. James’s Gate Brewery. Before its transformation into the Guinness Storehouse, the building had a different purpose. It originally functioned as a fermentation plant, a crucial part of the brewery’s operations. The architectural design, resembling a giant pint glass, was a distinctive feature even in its earlier role.

As brewing technology advanced, the fermentation process was centralized, rendering the original use of the building obsolete. This paved the way for a visionary shift in its purpose. The decision to convert the fermentation plant into a visitor experience center was a nod to the rich history and cultural impact of Guinness.

The seven floors of the Guinness Storehouse are strategically dedicated to different aspects of the brewing process and the brand’s heritage. Visitors ascend through exhibits covering ingredients, brewing methods, and the iconic advertising campaigns that have become synonymous with Guinness. As I mentioned earlier, the Gravity Bar, located at the top of the Storehouse, offers not only panoramic views of Dublin but also serves as the grand finale where visitors can enjoy a complimentary pint of Guinness( it had better be good!).

Getting there

And really why not come here? It’s where everyone goes, isn’t it ?

Getting there:

Bus no. 13, , 40 from college green (outside Trinity), 123 from O Connell street or college green.

For a real luxury tourist experience you can share a jarvey (horse and cart) ride back to the city center after !


20/28/32 Euro depending on whether you want to learn to pull a pint ( and get a certificate) Check out here for more info

Group Travel :

If you want to travel to Europe as part of a group, I recommend Trafalgar tours whom I work with as a tour guide. For best value, almost anywhere in the world ( including of course Ireland) click the link below

Trafalgar Homepage