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You can't escape the black stuff on a trip to Dublin, so why not give in to the inevitable and make an experience out of it by visiting the Guinness Storehouse as Duncan Evans explains.
The Storehouse was originally built in Dublin in 1904, to house the Guinness fermentation process, and was built in the style of the Chicago style of architecture, with massive, looming iron beams. Incredibly, the black stuff was still being produced in the building as late as 1988 when the last hops entered the fermentation cycle. In late 2000, after a multi-million refit, the Storehouse was transformed into a seven floor tourist attraction.
The ground floor starts with the Guinness shop where you can buy all manner of merchandise, though the wisdom of giving alcohol-branded T-shirts to impressionable pre-teens obviously hasn't worried the corporate consciousness. This is also where the exhibition starts off, introducing the visitor to the four ingredients, of water, barley, hops and yeast.
On the first floor, the master brewer guides you through the brewing process with some multimedia displays and a waterfall. You'll find a tasting laboratory, transport exhibit, the craft of the cooper and tales of Guinness abroad. While there are examples of some of the old machinery used, there is little animation, no dioramas, just some presentations on the screens so it's not exactly a thrill ride for youngsters. The building itself is very impressive and photogenic, and on the second floor is a history of Guinness advertising, containing memorabilia and TV advertising. There's a rather hypocritical, and one suspects there at the behest of the tourist board, Choice zone on floor three. This is an interactive exhibit that challenges visitors to look at their own drinking habits to see if you can recongise the fine line between enjoying yourself and drinking to excess. Needless to say this was empty when I went round.
On the fourth floor the story of the building exhibit charts its history from ale-fermenting slop-house to the current visitor experience. You can also stick messages on the message wall here. More interesting is the fifth floor which has a bar and dining area, and an exhibition of John Gilroy's Guinness advertising artwork from the 30s to the 60s. And finally, on the top floor is the Gravity bar, which has panoramic views across the city, though with the tables all around the edges of the windows, you don't see much when it's busy. When the crowds clear though, there are spectacular views across Dublin.
Regular adult price is €14 (about £10), though there's a 10% discount if booking on line, kids 6-12 are €5 (about £3.50) and a family ticket of two adults and two kids is €30 (about £21.50)
You can walk from Dame Street, outside Trinity College in the city centre, to the Storehouse at St. James's Gate in about 15mins. There are four buses that will take you there, there's a car park on Crane Street and a tram stops on James Street from where it's a short walk.
St James's Gate
Tel: + 353 1 408 4800
Fax: + 353 1 408 4965