When in Dublin, do what Dubliners do. Or at least, what all tourists in Dublin do.
A trip to Dublin is hardly complete without a visit to the Guinness Storehouse, the original Guinness brewery in St James’s Gate, where brewing of Ireland’s best-selling alcoholic drink began way back in 1759. So it was that my travel buddy and I found ourselves on a pleasant morning meander through the wintry streets of Dublin from our accommodation near the Ha’penny Bridge toward the city’s number one tourist attraction.
The Storehouse was our main plan for the day, and we took our time getting there, wandering a far-from-direct route, discovering a pop-up market behind an inconspicuous entrance, and posing with fitting street art. It was winter, but pleasantly brisk and the cool air made for a perfect setting around the brewery.
The streets immediately surrounding the brewery are just the kind of blueish-grey, charmingly dirty in a very Viggo-Mortensen-as-Aragorn kind of way, cobble-stoned laneways you picture seeing on a dreary Dublin day. It was actually these very streets that had made me want to visit the Storehouse, as I had seen so many pictures of them looking enticingly spooky.
My boyfriend was there for the beer.
I am not a beer drinker myself, but I was ready for the tastings I knew would form part of our visit. Of course, I also looked forward to the museum itself – and would highly recommend it even for those who do not find themselves ordering beer as their drink of choice.
The exhibits within the Storehouse are very well done, spread over several floors in an airy warehouse-type building where you learn all about the history of the iconic drink, have the chance to get up close to various parts of pre-loved machinery, try your hand at pouring a beer, enjoy a guided tasting, and much more.
It was in the guided tasting that I felt sure this was the moment I could learn to love beer. With such an explanation, of how to appreciate the colour, agitate the beer, smell and then taste, how could I not find it enjoyable and as classy as the man standing before us in his pristine, pressed uniform?
With my taste buds as open-minded as they always are when I try a new food or attempt for the 300th time to find a way to like beer, I took a sip of the frothy head and near-black liquid – confirming that it is just not for me. With the tasting guide’s eyes boring into me, I passed my unwanted beer to my companion.
We continued exploring the Storehouse, probably spending around two hours there in total, before making our way to the panoramic bar at the top of the building. Every visitor is entitled to one free drink from the bar, and I must have been that one in 1,000 who orders something other than Guinness.
From that bar, we enjoyed a spectacular 360-degree view across Dublin – boyfriend enjoying his beer, me sipping my fizzy, sugary orange drink.
I gave Guinness several more attempts before leaving Dublin, but there are some certainties in this life, and one of them is that I am simply, sadly, not a Guinness girl. But you might be.
Photos: Courtney Gahan
Courtney Gahan is an Aussie serial expat, traveller and freelance writer who has bartered with Moroccan marketeers, seen the sun rise at Angkor Wat and elbowed her way through crowds on NYE in NYC. Currently based in Amsterdam.