Dublin’s most famous stout is more or less synonymous with both the Irish capital and the country as a whole, so it’s little wonder that this is the most-visited attraction in the city. It was undoubtedly the single thing I was looking forward to the most, and I’d deliberately kept it for the latter half of my trip to Ireland, anticipating it being the highlight. I was not disappointed.
Situated adjacent to the Guinness Brewery in the Kilmainham area of the city, this interactive, multimedia experience is a grand and glitzy love letter to everyone’s favourite stout. And why not? Dublin is justly proud of Arthur Guinness, its favourite son and founder of the world-famous black drink way back in 1795.
Once you ascend to the first floor of a waiting MC-type who will regale you with the backstory of the founding of the brewery, dropping such titbits as there being a 9000-year lease on the place (!) and the fact that the centrepiece glass atrium is the world’s single largest pint glass. And then you’re off, let loose to explore all six floors of this beer-lovers’ paradise.
It is the hardcore beer nuts who will enjoy the opening exhibit the most, detailing as it does the ingredients (barley, hops, yeast, with examples of each on show) and process of brewing Guinness. It even takes the time to remind us that water, fresh from nearby mountains – and not the River Liffey – is a key ingredient too. It’s all completed with information on how Guinness has travelled the world to be sold in various guises.
The taste test comes next, which leads in to arguably the least-expected highlight: a section on Guinness’ legendary advertising campaigns through the years. Trust me, it’s more fun than it sounds: Guinness has justly earned a reputation for its pioneering adverts, with the one featuring Polynesian surfers (“tick follow tock follow tick”) voted the advert of the century/millennium, and origin of the slogan “good things come to those who wait”.
You can watch this and other famous ads from Guinness’ illustrious history at a faux bar; before this you get to see a fairground-esque cast of iconic Guinness characters, ranging from a laughing oyster to the fish on the bicycle…!
All this is but a buildup to the twin highlights at the end – pouring your own pint (who’d have thought there were six stages to this?) and then ascending to the panoramic ‘sky bar’, where you cash in your voucher for your complimentary pint of Guinness and take in 360-degree views of Dublin. Unfortunately, a dearth of seating and the sheer crowds do compromise on those views somewhat…but that’s small beer (pun intended) when you taste the Guinness they serve here which is, of course, as good as it gets!