Monday, August 15, 2011

Attraction review: Guinness Storehouse

Guinness Storehouse
Dublin, Ireland

The attraction: The Guinness Storehouse is one of Ireland's most popular tourist attractions and it's easy to see why. The tour tells visitors all they need to know about the famous Irish dry stout beer, starting from its founding in the 18th century to the immense popularity it enjoys worldwide as a preferred beverage. In brewing terms 'to store' means to add yeast which is how the Storehouse got its name. Located at St. Jame's Gate Brewery, the Storehouse opened in 2000 and has been receiving scores of visitors ever since. It is laid out over seven floors which surround a glass atrium that is in the shape of a pint of Guinness. The ground floor introduces the beer's four ingredients-water, barley, hops, and yeast-while other floors feature the history of Guinness advertising over the years. The seventh floor is arguably what most people visit the Storehouse for-their complimentary pint of Guinness at the Gravity Bar.

Pros to visiting: If you need to win over your male traveling companion whose idea of a vacation is lounging at the beach and not touring a European capital, mention a trip to the Guinness Storehouse. Odds are all thoughts of palm trees and pool chairs will soon be forgotten as soon as they start smelling the scent of beer being made. At least that's how it was for D. I don't care a fig about beer, especially drinking copious amounts of it, but I was interested in visiting the attraction that brings most people to Dublin. What I liked most about the Storehouse is that visits are self-led, everything is interactive, you go at your own pace, and there is never any difficulty in hearing what the guide is saying due to your being in the back of the room. I only wish more tourist sites would adopt this  approach. I found the ground floor to be the most interesting of the Storehouse's seven floors of exhibits. It actually had real barley, hops, and yeast for visitors to touch and smell, and then a small waterfall to symbolize the beer's fourth ingredient. The other enjoyable part was advertisements from the mid-20th century, featuring such colorful logos as a toucan balancing a pint of Guinness on the tip of his beak with the words "Lovely day for a Guinness" above his head. The 360 degree views of Dublin offered at the Gravity Bar are also fantastic (it's one of the highest points in the city).

Cons to visiting: Younger children might be slightly bored on the tour; however, soft drinks and I believe fruit drinks as well are offered in lieu of the trademark beverage. There are no cons to visiting, although I do have one minor critique-there is simply not enough seating in the Gravity Bar for the numbers of people that stop in at the end of the tour. It seemed that once people had found seating, they nursed their pint for a while, and did not move on, resulting in extremely crowded and congested areas. However, nothing you can't make do with.

Conclusion: Although I would prefer return trip plans to Ireland to be focused exclusively on the country's western coast since we didn't make it there in 2009, D has stated we must include Dublin on the itinerary for no other reason than to have a second visit to the Storehouse. As I said, it can  win over  even the most anti-European touring individuals.


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