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IN A NUTSHELL
WHAT: Guinness Brewery at St. James Gate.
WHERE: Dublin, Ireland.
WHY: This is where they brew Guinness!!  Also Ireland's number one tourist attraction.
WHEN: Drop by anytime for a pint!
HOW: International flights into Dublin Airports.
IF YOU LIKE THIS... Then you should check out Munich's Hofbrauhaus or the Stuttgart's Volksfest.
The St. James Gate Brewery in Dublin is the home of the delicious dark draught of Guinness.  This brewery was first established in 1759 by Arthur Guinness, who leased the land for 9,000 years.

The St. James Gate Brewery is gigantic, and the mass quantity of beer being brewed there makes the whole facility, and all the blocks around it, smell like hops.  At the heart of the brewery is the Guinness Storehouse, which is the number one visited tourist attraction in all of Ireland.  The Storehouse encompasses a seven floor self-guided museum topped by a bar.
 
 

 
 

On the ground floor, visitors learn about the four basic ingredients of Guinness: water, barley, hops, and yeast.  The tour then winds its way up the floors and through exhibits focusing on everything from Guinness advertising over the years and the many different types of bottles used in the beer's history.

In 2006, a new wing opened in the Storehouse, offering the public a look into the brewing process and also a tasting laboratory where visitors learn to savor the taste of Guinness.  

The tour ends at the Gravity Bar, a bar at the top of the brewery which offers a 360 degree view of Dublin.  It is here that visitors of legal age can sip a free pint of Guinness as a reward for completing the tour.

MY TAKE:
Overall, the Guinness Storehouse is special only in that you can feel the history of the St. James Gate Brewery.  Just approaching the complex, you are engulfed in the smell of hops and are in awe of the huge brick buildings.

But the Storehouse itself is unremarkable and hugely disappointing. 

The exhibits try to put on a modern air with the liberal use of glass and steel, and border on the abstract with big plastic bins full of barley.  Where the visitor expects copper vats and colorful Irishmen, he instead receives advertisements and open air galleries challenging visitors not to drink to excess.  I'm all about drinking within your limits, but to have to pay money for a museum where one whole floor is dedicated to this? 

At the end, you do get your complimentary pint to compensate you for wasting your time on the first six floors, but again, the Gravity Bar is a bit disappointing.  At any other place I would welcome a seventh floor bar with a great view.  Unfortunately, Dublin is not a beautiful town, and lacks the notable skyline landmarks of a Munich or a Bruges.

Again, call it cliché, when I visit a 250-year old brewery in Ireland, I expect to drink my free pint in a dark-wood paneled room with overstuffed chairs and a fireplace or at least a dartboard.

The Guinness Storehouse is a must-see event in Ireland not because it is grand, but only because everyone else does it and that will be the first question out of anyone's mouth when you say you just came back from Ireland.

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