The Guinness Storehouse Tour in Dublin manages to involve all your senses while providing insight into the process of making Guinness. While children obviously can’t sample the beer, I observed many kids enjoying the interactive displays, giant indoor waterfalls and running their fingers through huge flat containers of barley. Throughout the tour, many creative touches are designed to make the tour so much more than simply walking from one display board to another.
Inside a Pint of Guinness
It’s a well-known fact that I don’t enjoy tours with extensive historical dates and background information. Combined with the fact that I don’t drink, you would assume I’d hesitate to recommend the Guinness Storehouse Tour.
That assumption is incorrect! While the building was a fermentation plant from 1904-1988, (see how I’m incorporating historical dates into this article?) it is now redesigned into the shape of a giant pint of Guinness. A seven-story tall pint of course. Even on a cloudy day, the glass walls and ceilings create a sense of light and airiness. (Much like the light and airy foam on top of a glass of Guinness, I suspect!)
As you enter, you’ll see a copy of the lease Arthur Guinness signed. Instead of displaying the contract in a typical case at eye level, the lease is in a protective glass case in the floor. Arthur Guinness, in far-sighted thinking, wrote up the lease for the four-acre brewery in 1759, saying he would lease the area for 9,000 years at a whopping 45 pounds per year! Today the 50-acre property produces three million pints of Guinness per day. Not a bad deal!
Making the Guinness
Throughout the tour, displays let you see, touch and smell the process. Huge sandbox sized trays of barley explain the process of getting malted, roasted, milled and mashed with hot water. Displays of hops let you have a whiff of their distinctive aroma. You’ll read about the importance of pure water, as water flows from the ceiling to a
dramatic “waterfall” to the next level. Bend over and peek inside traditional oak barrels. Suddenly a face appears, explaining more of the beer-making process.
My favorite attraction was very “Harry Potterish”. One room was designed to look like a typical museum room, with large frames on the wall. When you stand in front of the frame, a person appears in a video and explains more about the process of creating that perfect glass of Guinness. Move to the next empty frame and another person appears. That’s plenty to entertain me!
Some people strive to get their Master’s or Ph.D. to continue their education. Many more people simply want to “graduate” with a certificate from the Guinness Academy of Pouring the Perfect Pint.
In another brilliant form of interactive marketing, people get divided into small groups to learn how to pour the perfect glass of Guinness.
Think you can just pour Guinness into a glass? That’s amateur thinking! My husband and his cohorts listened intently as the brew master demonstrated how to dry the glass, tilt it at a 45-degree angle, pull the lever until the beer reaches a certain level…you can see this is a very highly skilled effort! After letting the beer settle for a prescribed amount of time, you “top it off” with more Guinness to create the perfect drink.
My husband, unfortunately had a little trouble with his foam level, but the kind-hearted brew master saw it in his heart to give Allan his certificate. (Don’t worry, you could break the glass and spill beer on the floor and you’d still get your certificate!) Kids get coupons for soft drinks in another room.
Taking in the View
After pouring an amazingly perfect pint of Guinness, most people
head up to the seventh floor to the Gravity bar for a 360 degree view of Dublin. (Children get coupons for soft drinks available in Arthur’s bar.) Signs along the windows describe each major building and landmark. A very helpful staff member meanders around, answering questions.
Which brings me to the staff. In doing customer service presentations around the world, I’ve worked with hundreds of tour guides. The staff at the Guinness Storehouse are top notch. While other people were sipping beer, I observed the staff, cheerfully making guests feel welcome. There’s a difference between giving a forced smile and genuinely wanting to provide a positive experience for customers. The Guinness staff had that genuine warmth and friendliness.
The Guinness Storehouse is open daily with a few exceptions for holidays. We arrived early on a Tuesday morning in April, so crowds were very manageable. Several people told me they purchased tickets online to cut down on the long lines that happen
weekends and holidays. Free parking is available as well as local bus service. It’s also a stop for the popular Hop On- Hop-Off bus tours. A café is available for light snacks if you get hungry.
Tween and Teens will find enough of the interactive displays to keep their interest. They can watch TV ads for Guinness and become a character in one of their posters. Or they can play the harp that is pictured on every pint of Guinness. Naturally, every good parent will leave the tour with their children, giving the age-old lecture about responsible drinking!