There were plenty of highlights during my four-day trip to Dublin this week. There was, of course, the once-in-a lifetime opportunity to ride in an open-topped double decker bus in the city’s historic and hugely popular St Patrick’s Day parade. (Here’s that post in case you missed it.)
But I also was able to get a behind-the-scenes tour of Ireland’s biggest attraction, the Guinness Storehouse, home of the world famous Guinness beer.
Coming soon: My trip report on Aer Lingus’ new business class seat SFO-DUB
Since Dublin is the European headquarters for hundreds of American companies, including high profile tech companies like Google, Facebook and LinkedIn, it’s likely that many TravelSkills readers will be following my contrails. If you are in town and have some extra time (and 18 euros), an afternoon in the storehouse is a worthy pursuit!
Spend a couple hours learning how the beer is brewed, learn the proper way to pour a pint, have a meal (like a Guinness marinated burger, mussels steamed in Guinness, Beef & Guinness stew, etc.– all very good!), and have a pint with a 360-degree view of Dublin at a fun Gravity bar located on the roof. It’s one of the highest perches in town.
Here are some interesting things I learned about Guinness during my visit:
>Guinness has been producing beer in Dublin for about 250 years. Its brewery in downtown Dublin cranks out 3 million pints of “the black stuff” per day.
>One could only buy a Guinness in a bottle until 1959 when its famous draught, served in a pint glass with a big creamy head created by tiny nitrogen bubbles, made its debut.
>Even though a Guinness beer is thick, dark and creamy, a 12 ounce serving contains just 124 calories– less than a 12 ounce Budweiser, which has 145. Alcohol content is less than I imagined, too, at just 4.5%.
>Prior to modern refrigeration, Guinness made a special brew for export that contained more hops (as a preservative) and a significantly higher alcohol content- 7.5%. This Guinness Foreign Extra Stout is still its most consumed product in many African and Caribbean countries. Nigeria is the brewer’s second largest market after Great Britain.
>While a pint of Guinness may appear dark brown or black (due to the high percentage of roasted barley used), it’s actually a deep ruby red color which you can see when its help up to a light. A modern taste for lighter, fizzier “craft” style beers sent Guinness to its archives recently to revive Dublin Porter. It’s also recently launched a new Blonde American Lager in the US, which is brewed in Pennsylvania. It’s also getting into snack food with a new line of potato chips , cheese and chocolate– yes, all have a hint of that roasted barley flavor.
>A job at Guinness has long been considered to be one of the best jobs in Ireland. That’s because the company was a pioneer in promoting social welfare for employees– long, long before it was popularized by the likes of Google. For example, it has always provided one square meal per day for employees– and even for retirees, who frequently gather in employee cafeterias. It was one of the first companies in Ireland to provide health care to employees. And of course, every employee gets two free pints of beer per day.
Have you ever been to the Guinness Storehouse or another brewery? What did you think?
Disclosure: Guinness covered the cost of my three night stay at the Brooks Hotel in Dublin. It’s a nice, serviceable hotel in the center of town with an excellent breakfast buffet and decent rates. It rates #16 out of 174 hotels in Dublin on TripAdvisor. But it’s not as posh or well known among the biz travel set as the recently renovated Shelbourne (a Renaissance), Westbury, Merrion, Conrad or Westin.
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