As it is nearing the end of my time here in Ireland, my suitemate and I decided to dedicate the remaining amount of our free time to exploring Ireland and seeing everything it has to offer. With a list of places to see ready to go, we began our sightseeing with the most quintessential tourist attraction around: the Guinness Factory. With only two weeks left, many of my peers had already gone to the factory with their friends and family who had visited them during the semester and after asking how it was, I never once received an answer that was anything less than great. I’ll admit, it felt weird as I walked into such a tourist-driven location after living here for almost four months, but the experience is something that I will never forget.
As we entered the Willy Wonka-like factory, I was in awe of the size and elaboration of the factory. Upon arriving we learned that the building was part of the working brewery from 1902 to 1988 and was re-designed to include a glass atrium shaped as a massive seven-story pint glass. If full, it would hold 14.3 million pints of Guinness. As we looked around the ground floor we were able to see the 9,000-year old lease that founder Arthur Guinness signed on the St.Jame’s Gate Brewery in Dublin encased in the floor near the main entrance. The Storehouse is laid out over seven floors that teach you something different about the history and influence of Guinness.
The first floor walks you through the process of beer making. On the first floor you are invited to stand under a waterfall, touch turn-of-the-century equipment, and “be the beer” as you walk through the process of boiling and fermenting. The next few floors feature the history of Guinness advertising and have an interactive exhibit on responsible drinking.
On fourth floor an illuminated doorway greets you, inviting you to taste test samples of Guinness. When you walk through the doors you are first given a briefing on what goes into the making of Guinness. You are then given a mini-pint, however, you are instructed not to drink it. As you carefully carry your sample of Guinness into the next room, a professional Guinness taste tester greets you and informs you on how to properly drink the sample. To properly drink Guinness, one must raise his or her elbow so that it is ‘even with the horizon’, inhale, take a sip while filling your entire mouth with Guinness, swallow and exhale. We are told that drinking Guinness properly is essential – as doing so improperly will make the drink unsatisfactory by not allowing you to experience all of the flavors in the beer.
Once you’ve learned how to drink Guinness properly, you are invited to the next floor to learn how to pour the perfect pint at the Guinness Academy, my favorite part of the Guinness Factory. We are instructed to hold the empty glass at a 45-degree angle while filling it with Guinness; however, once the Guinness reaches the top of the harp on the glass you must straighten the glass. By pouring Guinness correctly, you are able to preserve the flavors best. The best part about this experience was receiving a certificate that says you are able to serve the perfect pint of Guinness. Finally, once you have poured your pint, you can go to the Gravity Bar to enjoy your drink while enjoying the 360-degree view that overlooks the city of Dublin.
Exploring the Guinness Factory with one of my best friends was definitely one of my favorite experiences that I’ve had during my time in Ireland. Learning about the history of Guinness and how it has had such a significant impact in Ireland made me feel more immersed in the culture. I know that when I return to Ireland in future years with my family, the Guinness Factory is one of the first things I want to show them.