Raise a Glass for St Paddy’s: The Guinness Storehouse, Dublin

Two glasses of Guinness black ale, The Gravity Bar, Guinness Storehouse, Dublin

Guinness Black Ale
Ready for drinking at the Gravity Bar, top floor of the Guinness Storehouse, Dublin (iPhone S4).

It was St Patrick’s Day this week, so it seemed fitting to return to another Irish cultural icon: Guinness.

July last year was wet in Ireland, and it rained much of the short time we were in Dublin. So, we visited the Guinness Storehouse: it was a good way to learn something about local history, while staying dry for a few hours.

As a bonus, we each got a “pint of black” with our entry price.

Statue of Sir Benjamen Lee Guinness, St. Patrick

Sir Benjamen Lee Guinness (1798 – 1868)
The grandson of Arthur Guinness (founder of the Guinness brewery) has his statue in front of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, which his funding helped restore.

The Guinness dynasty has left an indelible mark on Dublin. Our open-bus tour took us past  the house in which Arthur Guinness (1724/1725 – 1803), lived. Billed as an entrepreneur, visionary and philanthropist, in 1759 Arthur founded the now-famous brewery at St James’s Gate. An Irish Protestant, Guinness was deeply influenced by John Wesley’s theology of social ministry. He started (and funded) the first Sunday schools in Ireland; he gave vast amounts of money to hospitals and charitable projects for the poor; and he payed his workers about 20 percent more than other employers. More importantly, he passed his reformist ideology down to his heirs: “If you had worked for Guinness in 1928, a year before the Great Depression, you would have had 24-hour medical care, 24-hour dental care, on-site massage therapy.”

Over the generations, the Guinness family has been responsible for (among other things) funding parks and medical facilities, as well as restoring St. Patrick’s Cathedral and other public properties.

The harp and "Guinness Storehouse" name over a brick archway; Dublin, Ireland.

Guinness Storehouse
Entry to the original St. James’s Gate brewery, established in 1759.

The original brewery at St James’s Gate is the centrepiece of the Guinness story. Inside the thick brick walls, what was once the old brewery and storehouse is now a museum built in girders and glass. Rising up the centre of the seven-story building is the world’s largest pint glass. At the base of the glass is a special document: the original 9000-year lease for the St James’s Gate property.

The feet of people standing around a piece of paper embedded under a round glass: The 9000-year lease for the St James

The Lease
The original 9000-year lease for the St James’s Gate Brewery is part of Guinness mythology; harder to track is the real story of expansion (from 4 to 50 acres) and changes of ownership over recent years.

Text on a glass in front of an exhaustive collection of Guinness beer bottles. The Guinness Storehouse, Dublin

The Collection
Making a point for the breadth of Guinness history, the bottle case reminds us about the role of legal documents and developments in transportation in the Guinness story.

Portrait: A young Irish woman in Guinness uniform.

A Guinness Guide
Before we are let loose on the several floors of audio-visual displays, we are given a brief talk.

Close-up: large industrial bolts on steel.

Dim lighting and “industrial” architecture foster the image of a once-working brewery.

Artificial Hops Flowers in a glass display: Guinness Storehouse, Dublin.

The brewing story starts with four natural ingredients: yeast, barley, hops…

People standing behind a veil of falling water: Guinness Storehouse, Dublin.

Fresh Water
… and water – lots of water.

People in dim light, watching video and reading posters.

Audio Visual
A combination of displays, old machinery. and explanatory posters walk you through the process.


Old Machinery

Text on glass: "Boiling". Guinness Storehouse, Dublin

Explanations on Glass

The Copper: illustrative machinery in the Guinness Storehouse, Dublin

A Copper Kettle

Looking Down over the ground-floor retail space: Guinness Storehouse.

Looking Down
As we work our way up the “pint glass”, we can look back down over the ground-floor retail space.

Industrial Pipes; Guinness Storehouse, Dublin

Industrial Pipes

Colourful Machinery: almost abstract, Guinness Storehouse

Machinery ~ Abstract Colour

As well as explaining the brewing process, the museum looks at distribution and transportation. My great-grandfather was a cooper, so I was particularly interested in watching the short film about the Guinness Master Cooper, Dick Flanagan, making barrels.

Guinness Barrels display: some with televised film of a cooper at work. Guinness Storehouse.

The Coopers’ Barrels
An old film demonstrates the skill of the coopers who make the wooden barrels.

Low light: display of coopers Tools on a wooden wall, Guinness Storehouse.

Coopers’ Tools

Display: Guinness labels behind glass.

Labels over Time

A large section of the museum displays sponsorship and advertising over the years. Who can forget “I like to watch” or other famous Guinness ads from years gone by? There are also sections on health and responsible drinking, tracing family who might have worked for the company, and even cooking with Guinness.

In keeping with the mythology of the perfect beer, there is an entire section instructing you how to pour a pint: a six-step process, achieved in two stages and taking exactly 119.5 seconds!

Two rows of Guinness glasses; two women in the background. Guinness Storehouse.

Part-pints, ready to be topped up.

Two irish women behind Guinness beer taps.

Guinness Baristas?

Glass Brick Stairwell

Glass Bricks
The canteen on the sixth floor is empty as we work our way up the building.

Glass of Guinness on a bar; people in the background.

The Perfect Pour?
“Good things come to those who wait.”

Silhouetted people sitting in the Gravity Bar drinking Guinness with views over Dublin.

The Gravity Bar
On the top floor of the Storehouse, there is plenty of space to enjoy the views over Dublin.

Pony Trap on the Guinness Storehouse road.

Pony Trap
Wet Dublin streets.

text: slainte - good health

I confess: I don’t actually like Guinness, or any other beer.

I did my best to down my pint: I managed a quarter and gave the rest to my husband.

Outside it was still wet. Oh well – that’s Ireland.

Happy St Patrick’s Day ~ Sláinte!

Photos: 07July2012

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