Some people live to visit Jerusalem. Others, the Blarney Stone. Me? The St. James’s Gate Guinness Brewery in Dublin.
The tour of “The Home of Guinness” begins, somewhat unexpectedly, at the ticket booth, where the smiling people at Guinness relieved us of twenty euros. Each.
What the … ? Haven’t I paid my dues already after fifty years of swilling their brew? Apparently not. They took our money with a typical Irish smile and in we went. So did about five thousand others.
It’s a remarkable presentation. A bit like Disneyland for beer drinkers. Among other things, we were treated to an entire floor of Guinness advertisements over the years. Really? Twenty euros to see ads? I suppose Budweiser does the same, but they have the horses. Guinness has a fish on a bicycle. In their defense they treated us to two floors explaining the brewing process itself (Cascade hops from America!), and another floor of food, self-serve, sorta like IKEA but without the meatballs.
And then there was the top floor, the “Gravity Bar,” with 120-db live music and the best view of Dublin in the city. We observed three things: 1) No one in Dublin seems to be over 35 years old (in fact, Dublin is one of the “youngest” cities in the world, demographically), 2) None of them seem to have a need to work, since they were all quaffing free Guinness like … well … free Guinness, and 3) Dublin is a low town, since the best view in the city is on top of the Guinness storehouse, just seven floors up.
So there you have it. The Home of Guinness is loud, hot, crowded, and there isn’t a glimpse of the real beer-making process in sight. It’s more of an adulation in reverence of Arthur Guinness and his remarkable penchant for marketing beer. I can honor that, but next time I’ll choose a quiet little pub on Parliament Street where there are no crowds and no ticket booth..