The Guinness Storehouse is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Ireland as well as one of the most visited sites in all of Europe. Last year saw over 1.7 million visitors from around the world pass through the doors of the famous storehouse at St. James’ Gate Brewery in Dublin. But is it really worth all the hype? And do you need to be a fan of the black stuff to enjoy it? The following guide will tell you everything you need to know about the site and then you can make you’re own mind up. So keep reading to find out.
Where is it and how to get there
The Guinness Brewery is located in an industrial area to the west of Dublin city centre on the original site where Arthur Guinness built his factory, for what would become one of the world’s most recognisable brands.
Walking from the Temple Bar area in the centre takes around half an hour to reach the Guinness Storehouse, in what is a relatively straightforward route taking you past Dublin Castle. Alternatively, bus 123 from either O’Connell Street or Dame Street leaves every 8-10 minutes, which usually takes 10 minutes. There is also a tram stop at St. James’s Hospital, which is less than 10 minutes’ walk to brewery. If you have your own transport you’ll find a free car park on site. However, spaces are limited and at busier times of the year it may be better to use public transport.
Entrance starts at €19.50 for adults, €16 for children aged 13-17 and €5 for those between ages 6-12 (presumably they won’t be drinking any of the famous beverage). Anyone aged under 6 can enter for free. Adult prices can differ for busier times of day, with admission for two adults changing by as much as €13.
Entrance includes access to the tour and a free pint of Guinness, or a soft drink for anyone under the legal drinking age (18). There are a number of extras that can be purchased either when you buy tickets in advance or on the day. Booking online allows you to skip the queues and avoid any long lines as you collect your tickets. Audio guides are available at the entrance for €2 in a variety of languages.
The Storehouse is open from 9:30am every day (with the exception of Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and St. Stephen’s Day) until 9pm between July and August and 7pm the rest of the year. The last entry is two hours before closing time.
However, the actual Guinness brewery tour is separate from the Storehouse and costs €95 for a 3 hour walking tour of the Guinness factory plus several extras (including the Storehouse tour).
After collecting your tickets you can pick up a leaflet with the layout of the storehouse. However, the levels are easily laid out and it’s impossible to get lost (even with my sense of direction!). Following the only route possible, a long escalator leads you to your first stop; the gift shop. Don’t worry, it’s not all just some big money-making scam, although it can be a bit confusing for some people. Instead of getting distracted by all the shiny souvenirs you can take home, walk directly ahead to begin your visit.
The tour is self-guided and takes you through a number of levels as you gradually make your way to the top floor via a combination of walkways and escalators. There is also a lift available for anyone using a wheelchair or pushchair, etc. It generally takes around an hour and a half to two hours to see everything, depending on how much you want to look at. In the middle you’ll find a café to have a quick break or grab a snack and something to drink. Of course, as you might expect from a site as popular as this in a city as expensive as Dublin, the prices aren’t so cheap.
The lower floors of the Storehouse are all about the brewing process. For anyone that’s been on a brewery tour before this won’t be anything new, but you can learn about the little intricacies that makes Guinness the famous drink that it is. Further up you’ll find more on the history of the old brewery. The foundation, why Arthur Guinness wanted to set-up his factory at St. James’s Gate and what happens to the Guinness after it’s produced. There are many stories and some interesting curiosities from a site that has seen a lot of history. Both for Guinness and the city of Dublin itself.
Once you’ve learnt everything about the brewing process, how to build a barrel and how they were shipped you might be wondering what else there is to know. Well up next is your first opportunity for a taste of Guinness.
Small groups (after a waiting time of no more than 10 minutes) are directed along a darkened corridor before a set of doors open up to reveal a pure, bright white room. At the time of my visit I was greeted by a man with long hair and a beard. Jesus metaphors aside, inside this small, heavenly room are four tables. Each containing the aroma of four of the main ingredients that make up every drink of Guinness. Barley, roasted malt, hops and yeast. After taking a whiff of each ingredient you will be handed a drink about the size of a shot glass with some of the black stuff for you to try.
Once you’ve had your taster it’s time to head upstairs on the long escalators (maybe admiring the view below if you’ve a head for heights) to the commercial section. This is Guinness’ world of advertising and contains all of the past promotional campaigns that the company have used over the years. Large screens and interactive tablets display TV adverts from the past, while on the wall you’ll be able to view many of the posters and memorabilia that have been used around the world. You’ll see many you recognise and some you’d forgotten all about. With this much advertising it’s easy to see why Guinness is so well-known.
The final part of the Storehouse is the bars and restaurants. First you’ll pass a collection of photos showing some of the many celebrities who have been among the 20 million visitors to the Guinness Storehouse. After that you have a few options where you can collect your free drink, the first of which is the Guinness Academy. Here you can learn how to pour the perfect pint of Guinness before sampling it for yourself. You’ll also be given a certificate to prove you know what you’re doing when it comes to pouring pints. However, holding off on this you’ll find a better location to enjoy your pint in a moment.
This floor is also where you can purchase one of the extras mentioned earlier. For just €6.50 you can enjoy a pint of Guinness with your face on it (if you really want to). The personalised pint, or (good grief!) “STOUTie”, can be purchased just before the stairs leading to the top floor. Upstairs is the Gravity Bar and the ideal spot for taking that well-earned free pint of Guinness, Hop House 13 beer or soft drink. The Gravity Bar features 360° views of Dublin with pointers directing you to many of the city’s famous sites. So find a seat, sit back and enjoy a pint of Ireland’s most famous export.
So is the Guinness Storehouse worth visiting? It’s not the cheapest and if you’ve seen one brewery there’s not a lot new that you’ll learn. However, the top few floors offer something more and there’s plenty of interesting history about the site. Whether you enjoy the drink or not depends on your personal tastes. But you can’t really leave Ireland without having tried at least a sip in the home of Guinness.