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Guinness is Ireland’s most famous export. Since its creation in 1759, millions of drinkers worldwide have enjoyed the legendary Irish stout. While Guinness is exported everywhere, there’s nothing like drinking it fresh in Ireland. The Guinness Storehouse in Dublin is the top destination in the country for Guinness connoisseurs, featuring brewery tours, bars, restaurants, and a huge gift shop.
Guinness Storehouse Tickets
The Guinness Brewery Tour is one of the most popular things to do in Dublin. Therefore, booking tickets ahead of time is highly recommended, especially during the busy summer months. You can pre-book Guinness Storehouse tour tickets online here.
If you are planning on doing other activities in the city, there are a few other Dublin tour options that include the Guinness Storehouse Tour. One ticket offers a combination of the Guinness factory tour along with a hop-on, hop-off bus ticket. This tour combines both the Guinness Tour and the Jameson Tour. The Guinness Storehouse Tour is also part of the Dublin Go City Pass.
If you are looking for an even more in-depth experience, the Guinness Storehouse website has additional tour options.
Guinness Storehouse Shop & History
After passing through the ticketed entryway, visitors to the Guinness factory find themselves in a Guinness wonderland. Peer upwards and you’ll see several levels above you, with an atrium shaped like a Guinness glass.
I first took the Guinness tour way back in the Summer of 2000, just before the Guinness Storehouse opened later that year. It’s amazing how the entire experience has grown since then.
The building that now houses this Guinness Experience was built in 1902 as the fermentation plant for the brewery. It served in that capacity until 1988.
Inside the atrium, there is an important historical artifact. A glass case embedded in the floor holds a copy of the 9,000-year lease signed by Arthur Guinness in 1759.
But first, be sure to visit the Guinness Storehouse Shop before starting on the tour, as the tour then winds its way upward through the building. You can also visit at the end if you prefer.
The Guinness Storehouse gift shop is massive. Name an item, and there’s a good chance that you’ll find it here. There’s plenty of clothing, as well as drinkware and other Guinness-branded paraphernalia. You can also purchase beer, of course, as well as custom-engraved items.
Note: The Guinness Storehouse Shop is only open to those with Guinness tour tickets. If you aren’t able to do the tour or can’t make it to Dublin, you can also buy Guinness products online.
Guinness Storehouse Tour
While the Guinness Storehouse tickets have timed entry, you’re free to start the self-guided tour whenever you want. A timer countdown shows when the next introduction video will start, but otherwise, you are free to explore.
The Ingredients of Beer
The first part of the Guinness Storehouse tour starts with the basic ingredients of beer.
While the specifics are unique to Guinness, these elements of barley, hops, yeast, and water will be familiar to any beer aficionado.
The Guinness Brewing Process
After a section with videos and facts about the life of Arthur Guinness, the next section of the Guinness brewery tour continues with the details of the brewing process.
While some of these aspects of beer brewing such as milling, mashing, boiling, and fermentation are standard, there are also some things that are specific to Guinness.
For example, the barley is roasted at 232 degrees Celcius.
In addition to old equipment scattered throughout the exhibit, there are also stations with interactive tablets providing even more information.
All of these factors combine to create the 30 million bubbles in every pint of Guinness. I pity the poor person who had to count them all. I hope they at least got to drink a few pints at the end.
Barrel Making & Guinness Transportation
The beer business isn’t just about brewing. Other trades such as barrel making & transportation play an important role in distributing Guinness around the world.
While beer is transported in metal kegs & tanks these days, cooperage was long ago vital to Guinness. There is a display showing the various tools along with video demonstrations.
Once the beer is packaged, it’s then sent out of Ireland and around the world. Over the years, Guinness has used trains, ships, and more to distribute beer.
These sections are the final part of this initial informative section of the Guinness tour, which ends at a cafe level. This first part took me about 35 minutes to get through, though it could take longer if you stay longer at each display.
Guinness Taste Experience
Next, visitors then take escalators up even higher in the building. This floor contains the Guinness Taste Experience.
While many breweries would just start handing you beer at this point, the Guinness factory tour has a full sensory experience.
Visitors head into a white room. Inside this room, there are aroma stations. The combination of light and smell is meant to awaken the senses. A Guinness staffer does small pours at a bar, handing them out to each person. You take a sample, then head into the next room for a Guinness tasting.
It’s just a quick taste, but you learn tips on drinking Guinness, such as never to sip it, otherwise, you get more of the head, which is more bitter. Don’t worry though, this isn’t all of the beer you get on the Guinness Storehouse tour.
Heading up another level in the giant pint-glass atrium, the next section is devoted to another unique aspect of Guinness: Advertising.
For decades, Guinness advertising has been memorable, from the ubiquitous “My Goodness My Guinness” & “Guinness for Strength” messaging with cartoons & animals to more modern television commercials.
There are dozens of old ads and labels to look at, and there are even photo booths where you can re-create some of their most famous ads. A cinema room shows a loop of Guinness adverts.
Other Guinness Tour Experiences (The Stoutie, Guinness Academy, and Connoisseurs)
Another floor has several other Guinness Tour Experiences that you can either book as part of a higher-end ticket or add-on to your tour ticket.
If you want to see what your face looks like on a pint of Guinness, head to The Stoutie.
Another section includes the Guinness Academy, where you can learn how to pour your own proper pint of the black stuff. Finally, the Connoissueur room hosts the highest-end experiences.
After about an hour inside the former Guinness factory, it was time to head up to the top floor of the building for a pint.
Guinness Gravity Bar
The Guinness Gravity Bar takes up the entire top floor of the building. With 360-degree windows around Dublin, the views rival that of a perfectly poured pint.
If you have the flexibility (and if the notoriously temperamental Irish weather cooperates), take the Guinness Storehouse tour on a sunny day so you can get the best views of the city.
While the Dublin city centre is a little bit away from the brewery, you can still see it towards the east along the Liffey. In the distance, you can see the rolling green hills of the countryside. Closer by, you can look down into the Liberties neighborhood, home of several distilleries. The tower of Pearse Lyons stands out, as does the current Guinness Brewery.
Other Bars & Restaurants at the Guinness Factory
In addition to the aforementioned sections of the Guinness Storehouse tour, there are a few other bars and restaurants inside the building, including the 1837 Bar and Brasserie, which is named for the year when “Guinness and oysters were declared a perfect match,” Arthur’s Bar, and the Brewers’ Dining Hall. Once you’re done with the Guinness tour, you’re welcome to visit any of them.
The Guinness Storehouse Tour is a must-do for anyone who is a fan of Guinness & wants to explore the history of Ireland’s favorite beer. It’s one of the best large brewery tours I’ve ever been on. Buy your tickets here!
If you’re interested in other drinks, there are several distilleries you can visit in Dublin. Each has a different experience. There are also Dublin whiskey tours available. The city also has some excellent cocktail bars, Victorian pubs, & craft beer bars & breweries, including the Guinness Open Gate Brewery.
If you’re looking for a place to stay in Dublin, check out these Dublin hotels.