Guinness Storehouse — The Mecca of Brew

Black Stuff, Pint of Plain, “good for your heart…”

Guinness stout beer has been called many things.  I just call it good.

As Rick Steves says in his Ireland guidebook, “A visit to the Guinness Storehouse is, for many, a pilgrimage.”  This seemed to be true.  As we approached the factory, several “pilgrims” stopped to take pictures of each other in front of the huge Guinness sign hanging from a massive wooden gate on the lane leading to the Storehouse.  We followed suit.

The Guinness Storehouse Gate on Crane Street -- Entrance to Mecca

The Guinness museum now fills its former fermentation plant.  Well laid out over seven floors, the core of the building is modeled on a giant pint glass.  If this space were to be filled with Guinness, it would hold 14.3 million pints!  The museum, somewhat of an interactive experience, takes you through the steps of the entire brewing process, the art of cooperage, and finally tasting.
This waterfall marks the beginning of the tour — a promise of things to come.  Notice all the coins donated by worshipers.

A cooper’s dream

Halfway through our visit, we paused for a simple lunch while listening to Irish musicians play traditional music.

Playing "Trad" -- always more fun with a pint by your side

Then we made the trek up the last flight of stairs to the grand finale — the “head” of the pint:  Gravity Bar.  Perched at the very top of the museum, this circular bar is surrounded by 360 degree windows and views onto Dublin.  A pint of Guinness came with the price of our entrance tickets; we watched thirstily as the bartenders (mostly female) artfully pulled the pints from shiny brass spouts.
It takes talent to pull a perfect pint — these women had the knack!

Four Perfect Pints of the Black Stuff -- guess who they're for?

The place was packed.  The few lounge seats scattered along the perimeter were occupied so we stood near the bar counter, sipping.  One of the bartenders picked up a mike and asked for everyone’s attention.  After announcing that one of the workers was leaving soon to go to school and wishing him a happy journey, she asked if anyone in the house was having a birthday.  Mom jabbed the air wildly, pointing me out.

Over the microphone, the woman asked my name and where I was from. Then, after reminding everyone I was sharing my birthday with Arthur Guinness’ 250th, she led the entire bar in a Happy Birthday song to “Melinda from California.”  That was a thrilling birthday surprise.

Mom's reward

After our pint and my  birthday giggles, we jostled back down the stairs to the bottom floor (the “base of the pint”) for a frenzied souvenir-shopping stint.  Our pilgrimage complete,  Mom and Dad opted to grab a taxi to the hotel while Gino and I chose to mosey and explore our way back.

(Read about the history of Guinness in my previous post:                              “Arthur Guinness — He’s Our Man!”)

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