Today, I went to the Guinness Store for the first time. It was quite an experience. The fun begins right when you walk through the door. A friendly guide pointed me in the right direction and I was off!
It was good that it was a self-guided tour so I could go at my own pace. With so much to see and do, I wanted to do it all! Did you know it was the Mesopotamians who first discovered beer? First, to learn about Guinness I needed to learn about the ingredients that make Guinness. There are only four ingredients to make Guinness. They are: water, barley, hops and yeast. Seems easy enough.
First I learned about barley. Barley is the basic raw ingredient for fermentation. Guinness uses a combination of malted, unmalted, and roasted barley. The roasted barley gives the ruby red colour that Guinness is known for. At St. James Brewery, Guinness uses 100,000 tonnes of Irish grown barley per year.
Now lets talk about Hops. Hops are a plant that only grows between 35 and 55 degrees north and south of the equator because of the specific amount of sunlight the plant requires. Hop plants can grow up to 15 feet high.
Moving on to Yeast. The process that crushed grapes, kept in warm places, produced alcohol was discovered by the Egyptians. They found that yeast turns the natural sugars in grain and fruit into alcohol and carbon dioxide.
Last but certainly not least, Water. I liked this one the best because I enjoyed looking at the big waterfall that was on display. The water that is used to brew Guinness comes from the Wicklow Mountains and not from the River Liffey like most believe. Arthur Guinness started his brewery at St. James’ Gate because of the excellent water supply.
I then moved on to the second floor which told me all about the magical 5th ingredient of Guinness, Arthur Guinness himself. This was the coolest part of the tour because you got to move from portrait to portrait. Once you stood in front of the portrait, it would immediately begin to move and talk! Each portrait talked about Arthur Guinness and why he started the brewery and how much he did for the company.
Next, I learned all about the process of brewing Guinness. The process is a 5-step process that includes roasting, mashing, boiling, fermentation, and finally maturation. First the barley must be malted, roasted, and milled. It is then mixed with hot water and mashed. The water is then filtered and boiled with hops. Then the yeast is added and fermentation begins. The last part of the process is maturation. After the beer has been tested and approved it has finally become Guinness.
I continued on and learned about how the beer was transported. First, I learned about coppers, the craftsmen who made the wooden barrels used to transport Guinness around the world. Guinness used the typical ways of transportation including horses, trains, barges, ships and road transport. Today Guinness beer is transported to over 150 countries worldwide.
Next I learned about the different ways that Guinness has advertised over the years. Guinness has used the typical ways of advertising, such as print ads, TV commercials and build boards.
After all that information about Guinness made me ready to try a pint for myself but before I could I had to go through the tasting experience to learn the right way on how to drink Guinness. First I was lead into a white room where a guide greeted us. He told us to go around to each of the columns. At each of the columns were the four ingredients of Guinness. You could smell each of the ingredients from the steam coming out of the columns. It was mouth-watering and such a delight to experience the difference smells.
Next, I was given a small glass of Guinness and I was lead into the next room. Here, I learned the proper way to drink Guinness. It’s very important to stand up straight, Stick your arm out parallel to your face, look out onto the horizon and take a big gulp. NO SIPPING! Now, I knew the proper way to drink Guinness. I was ready for my pint. I continued up to the gravity bar where I got to enjoy my wonderful pint of Guinness while looking out over the beautiful Dublin skyline. It was a perfect afternoon.