I’m not much of a beer drinker. Maybe a cold Heineken on a hot July afternoon, but frankly I prefer chilled Chardonnay. Our visit to St. James Gate in Dublin threatened to change all that.
At 18 Euros a head (forgive the pun) the price might seem a bit steep, but when you consider a ticket to Disneyland runs about four times that amount–and you don’t get a free pint of Guinness–it’s a good deal. In fact, as Dublin’s most popular tourist attraction, it’s a bargain. Because the Guinness Experience is just that: an experience.
It’s recommended to allow one and a half hours for the self-guided tour. We spent almost four, even accompanied by three children (whose admission was free) under the age of nine. The Guinness folks have succeeded in figuring out how to funnel thousands of visitors through seven floors of the building where until 1988 yeast was added to their beer for fermentation.
We passed placards explaining the history of Arthur Guinness’s brewing enterprise which began in 1759. There were interactive exhibits; tasting rooms; three bars, including a rooftop location with a 360 degree view of Dublin; two restaurants; and retail shops. Visitors can view the rushing waters, piped in from the Wicklow Mountains, used in the brewing process.
One marketing exhibit includes famous Guinness commercials, including “A Woman Needs a Man Like a Fish Needs a Bicycle.” Hmm.
You can take a class (and receive a certificate) in how to pour the perfect glass of Guinness, which, by the way, should be served at 6-7 degrees Centigrade, roughly 43-44 Fahrenheit.
My preference during a tasting was for the rich roasted barley and dark cherry flavors of Foreign Extra Stout, the direct descendant of Guinness West India Porter. The latter was formulated in 1801 for Irish immigrant workers in the Caribbean. To withstand the long journey overseas by ship, it was brewed with extra hops and a higher alcohol content which served as natural preservatives.
The beef and Guinness stew we’d snacked on at St. James Gate was delicious, but we were hungry for dinner after all that walking and sipping and shopping. We headed to the Temple Bar District, a cultural quarter on the south bank of the River Liffey famous for its pubs and nightlife.
Even with its three floors of seating space, there was a wait at The Porterhouse Temple Bar, but once we had a table, food and micro brews quickly materialized. Conversation included the results of a recent study showing daily consumption by women of a small amount of hops over a three month period resulted in noticeable weight loss, despite the 198 calorie cost per glass.
I’ll let you know the result of my own research when it’s complete.