View Full Version : At Home I'm A Tourist - Guinnes Storehouse

02-07-2006, 09:46 AM
So, while we were in Dublin for the weekend, to see a band (Belle & Sebastian), my wife and I decided to do some touristy things; so Sunday morning we headed off to the Guinness Storehouse.

For those who haven't been, there are seven floors, and waiting on the seventh floor is the Gravity bar, with it's panoramic view of the city, and the promise of a complimentary pint.
The 'tour' (there is no guide) starts off with how the beer is made. This is the part I was looking forward to most.
Each section they would have some old machinery or kettle/tun etc., aswell as a video of the "Master brewer" describing the process, with footage of how it was done in the past, and how it looks now.

While it was interesting to see the size of a 600 bbl kettle etc., I started to grow tired of the slick "tourist-aimed" set-up. I have a basic knowledge of the brewing process, but started to get fed up of the lack of human contact, when I wanted to ask a couple of questions. It was interesting to know that a mash tun is called a "kieve" in Dublin, but there was no-one there to tell me what the "upperback" was between the mash tun/kieve and kettle.

By the time we got to the second floor, and with the marketing (spin) in overdrive, we had both lost our patience, and took the lift directly to the seventh floor (by-passing the advertising floor, which I would have liked to have seen, but had given up at this stage)
The pint of Guinness in the gravity bar was enjoyed, and the view is spectacular (Dublin isn't a high-rise city, so you look down on everything), but we then slipped out, leaving the hoardes of Italians to the over-priced gift shop.

In hindsight, I should have organised a tour of the Carlow Brewery on the Monday, as we passed through Carlow on our way home. I think I would have enjoyed that more.

02-07-2006, 12:43 PM
I totally agree with the verdict: it is a pretty uninspiring tour. The advertising section is interesting and comprehensive, though (sorry to bear bad news!), and I really liked the gravity bar. Maybe it would be better if they actually toured the brewery, not some purpose-built museum.

I also went early in the day, before the hoardes of tourists.

02-07-2006, 04:46 PM
I hate doing touristy things too, but I did take the very lovely bus tour of Dublin. We got to the Guinness part late and decided to skip it. Truth be told I prefer Beamish. The absolute truth be told if it wasn't so crowded I'd probably not have ever left the Porterhouse.

In any case the bigger the business the less personal interaction you're going to get. One of the best tours I ever had was a small brewpub in Toronto. It ended up a bit of bender with me and brewer getting up to allsorts of nonsense.

02-08-2006, 03:26 AM
I understand they're a big company, and I knew going in there we weren't going to see the actual brewery, but I still expected more.

Stronk, my brother had told us about the advertising section, but at that stage I just didn't have the patience for it.

As I said before, it was the lack of human contact, to answer a few simple questions was the most frustrating bit; but they were all down stairs taking money off everyone.

I mean, I still don't know what an upperback is (anyone help me out here?).

Meridian, we decided to pass Sunday morning being tourists, as the Porterhouse was pretty much all I saw on Saturday.
Sunday night was rounded off with a nice pint of red in Messers. Maguires.

02-08-2006, 02:43 PM
How were B&S? I'm a big fan myself, though I thought "Catastrophe Waitress" was a not a stunning as many of the earlier discs. They did put on one of the best (and quietest oddly enough) shows I've seen in my life.

02-08-2006, 03:40 PM
An upperback is probably another name for a grant. It's purpose is to allow the brewer to do a recirculation of the mash.

02-09-2006, 03:57 AM
Originally posted by MeridianFC
How were B&S?

They were excellent. My first time seeing them. They played a good mixture of old and new; plenty from Tigermilk. They played two nights, with two completley different set lists, the only cross-over being the new single, I think.

Dear Catastrophe Waitress isn't my favourite either. The new album is out this week, so I'm hoping it'll be more to my liking.

Hogie, thanks for that. That was kind of my assumption alright.

02-20-2006, 11:08 AM
Hey- I am glad to see this thread. My wife and I are considering a trip to Dublin at the end of March. Maybe we will skip the Guiness Storehouse. Can anyone suggest some other things to do in the area that are pretty fun? any pubs we must go to? Good restaurants? areas to stay?

BTW- we also like B&S- We have the new disk, but have not listened much yet. Too bad we missed the concert.



Richard English
02-21-2006, 06:24 AM
Although things have improved, Ireland is still not an especially good place for beer and Dublin (lovely city though it is) is not a patch on London for either pubs or beer.

Hop on a 'plane for the 45 minute hop to London and you will find, as others have found, that London is the best place in the world for pubs and cask-conditioned beer.

02-21-2006, 06:34 AM
Originally posted by choreboy
Hey- I am glad to see this thread. My wife and I are considering a trip to Dublin at the end of March. Maybe we will skip the Guiness Storehouse. Can anyone suggest some other things to do in the area that are pretty fun? any pubs we must go to? Good restaurants? areas to stay?

There are pubs galore throughout Dublin. Check out the Porterhouse and O'Neill's for good food and atmosphere. Also, look for the "Streetwise" series of maps (Border's Books), the Dublin map points out good pubs to try. The Brazen Head and the Long Hall are my favorites.


Richard English
02-21-2006, 06:55 AM
Unfortunately I have been unable to find much information on the number of pubs in Dublin, but I suspect it's between 1000 and 1500. London has between 5000 and 6000.

However, London is a far larger city and I would imagine that, in the city centres at least, the density of pubs is probably similar.

02-21-2006, 11:14 AM
Thanks for the tips folks!

BTW Steveh- Go SOX!

02-21-2006, 06:45 PM
Originally posted by Richard English
However, London is a far larger city and I would imagine that, in the city centres at least, the density of pubs is probably similar.

London is definitely a bigger metro area - but I actually had less trouble understanding the dialect in Dublin! ;)

You bet Choreboy! Any chance you have a bit o' the blarney in your blood?


02-21-2006, 08:25 PM
I am not Irish (dare I admit British blood this close to St Patty’s day?) My Wife, however is pretty much 100% Irish- so I do to claim to be Irish by proxy...
Steveh- I see you are in Northern Illinois- are you planning on going to the Chicago South Side Irish Parade? I have lived in Chicago for over ten years and last year was my first parade. I am definitely going back this year- I think it is a must attend for all true Sox Fans.

02-21-2006, 08:52 PM
Heh - I've heard nothing but harrowing tales from friends about the SSide parade - scary! Unfortunately, I think the favorite beer is green-colored Swiller Lite or Dog Style!

On March 17th, I usually head for a German or Mexican venue. ;) On non-amateur days you can find me at Chief O'Neill's up on Elston.


Richard English
02-22-2006, 03:16 AM
Quote "...but I actually had less trouble understanding the dialect in Dublin! ..."

Good heavens - whatever part of London were you in that this should be the case?! London is probably the most cosmopolitan city in Europe (it's certainly the largest) and does have a massive range of accents and dialects - but the areas that most tourists visit wouldn't create that problem for US-English speakers.

02-24-2006, 09:50 AM
Sorry Richard- can't quite agree there! If I was to visit Dublin from here I would hardly detour down to London! I'd want to see Dublin! Plenty chances to see London on another trip- I should be visiting friends in Ealing soon. I hopefully will get the chance to take in Dublin and Prague this year but being self-employed as ever it's wait and see!

02-24-2006, 09:50 AM
Originally posted by Richard English
Although things have improved, Ireland is still not an especially good place for beer and Dublin (lovely city though it is) is not a patch on London for either pubs or beer.

I take your point about cask conditioned ale Richard, I wish it were other, but besides brewpubs, we just don't do cask in Ireland.

Don't say we don't have good pubs though, 'cos that's just not true.

Dublin is a much smaller city than London, so naturally it has fewer pubs, but how many can you drink in over the course of a visit anyway?

Dublin is a very centralized city, compared to London, which is an advantage if you want to visit a few pubs in a night, as you can usually walk from pub to pub.

There are many pubs in Dublin where you can have a night of craic and if you don't mind drinking draught stout or bottled imports, you will be Ok for beer.

Choreboy. Check out http://www.dublinpubscene.com/index2.html as your essential guide to Dublin pubs. Includes reviews and maps.

Brew pubs in Dublin:
The Porterhouse (lively, live music, central, does food):

Porterhouse North (more relaxed but still fun, does very nice food, ~35 minute walk from town, my personal favourite):

Messrs. Maguires (very central, lively to loud, does food):


02-24-2006, 09:59 AM
guildofevil- I think Richard can safely be said to be a fan of London! I'm not personally a great fan- I don't like big cities and London is the most rat race one of them all! I personally like to live in a place where I can get away from concrete.
It has got some excellent museums and bars though I'll have to admit, but I just wouldn't want to live there.

02-24-2006, 10:08 AM
I love London and the (UK in general). Always a good pub close by and the best beer in the world. If I were to ever move to England, I'd probably like to be in a smaller village but within easy reach of London.

And on St. Pats Day, I'll be wearing orange as usual. But I'll probably drink at least one Guinness. Most likely at home. I, like Steveh, believe it to be amateur night.

02-24-2006, 10:10 AM
Originally posted by Bloodaxe
I should be visiting friends in Ealing soon.

They have a CAMRA festival in Ealing in May usually. It is at the Town Hall. 60 different cask ales when I last attended. You might choose to plan a visit during this fest.

02-24-2006, 10:10 AM
I should mention that Ireland has a relatively new, but well observed smoking ban in all pubs and restaurants. If you want to smoke, you have to leave the building.

Most pubs have made some effort to accommodate their smoking customers, by putting ashtrays and in some cases a few chairs and outdoor heaters outside the pub.

The Porterhouse North was opened well after the smoking ban was brought into affect and was designed with this in mind. As a result of this, it has a great beer garden, with comfortable chairs, music and wall mounted heaters.

I gave up smoking before the ban came in, but when the weather's nice (does happen sometimes, even in Ireland), I can often be found sitting out there with a cheese steak pizza and pint of cask conditioned TSB.


02-24-2006, 10:13 AM
I'll be spending Paddy's day in Amsterdam, wearing anything but green and probably drinking Trappist ale.


02-24-2006, 10:36 AM
I don't mind London.
Great place for beer and pubs. Good public transport system. Lots to see and do.
Naturally it suffers from the same problems as all really big cities do. This can make it a cold, impersonal place, which can grind some people down.
It's a nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there.


02-24-2006, 10:57 AM
Here are some pretty funny Guinness "Brilliant" comercial bloopers.
You have to register but they are pretty funny. I've been a 1759 Society member for a long time.


Richard English
02-24-2006, 12:49 PM
Quote "...I don't like big cities and London is the most rat race one of them all!..."

To people who say they don't like London I respond in much the same way as I respond to those who say they don't like beer!

If you don't like beer - then you've never drunk good beer; if you don't like London, then you don't know London. Quite apart from the statements in support of London that many have made - about its wonderful public transport and plethora of fine pubs (and restaurants, I would add) London also unlike most other cities in the world in that it is still essentially a collection of villages. Sadly most tourists, who know only the West End, don't realise this and assume that all of London is a busy and bustling as is the Oxford Street/Regent Street/Piccadilly area.

I posted elsewhere about London's pubs as compared with Dublin's and my guess is that London has about 3 times as many pubs as does Dublin. But as it's probably 3 times as big the actual density of pubs, certainly in the centres, is probably similar.

It's surprising, too, how few people realise that you can walk for miles in central London without being in sight or earshot of traffic - thanks to London's wonderful parks. I have visited no city in the world that has so many open green spaces.

As I have said, anyone who's coming to London need only let me know and we'll have a pint.

02-24-2006, 01:49 PM
Hah! I thought I'd get a swift reaction, Richard! I've not really got anything against London, though as I say I prefer towns to cities and I prefer being near the coast. It is bloody awful to drive through though- try it in a truck! As a say I hope to get down there in the near future- fancy a pint?

Richard English
02-24-2006, 02:20 PM
I stopped driving to or through London many years ago, although I did once drive a van around the place when I was a photocopy machine mechanic. But now that I don't need to carry things I use public transport which is quicker, cheaper and more comfortable.

And I'd be happy to join you for a pint the next time you're in London. Just let me know when you're down.

And, incidentally, I have visited most of the towns and cities in the UK and, whereas I agree they are all smaller than London, they are not all that much more manageable. Not one of them has a public transport system to match the tube (and yes, I have used the Tyne metro).

Fair comment, though, London's not on the coast but it is on a tidal river and, in my own lifetime, had the biggest dock complex in Europe - sadly now all gone.

02-24-2006, 02:39 PM
The Metro's pretty handy for popping up to Newcastle, only takes about 30 minutes from where I live, if only I didn't have the ability to arrive just as the train's leaving...
As you can see my adopted town is now South Shields which in many ways is pretty perfect as a small town- nice coastline, decent shops and parks and most importantly a decent selection of pubs! I actually come from North Shields over the river- which without wanting to deride my home town- is a bit of a dump by comparison, but again has some very decent pubs.
Your mention of the docks in London reminds of me of our own empty river- the Tyne. Hard to believe that the river would have been thick with merchant ships, colliers, fishing boats and that the river was lined with ship builders and repairers- so much lost to time and relatively recently too.
As I side note I understand that back in North Shields' Victorian past there were at least a hundred pubs along the quayside- and I bet they were lively places too!