Well the final leg of our journey was Dublin, Ireland. I thought since we were ruining our livers anyhow, we might as well do properly and visit the home of Guinness, Jamison’s Irish whiskey and many other fine spirits.
We only had three days in this fine city, and basically our plan was to see the aforementioned breweries and distilleries and then spend the balance of the time find which pub served the best Guinness and offered the most potato side dishes on one plate. I think this was our winner. It was our first meal at a pub called O’Neil’s close to Grafton Street and Temple Bar. This awesome beef stew came with potatoes, carrots, onions and beef plus sides which consisted of roasted, mashed, sweet mashed, and French fried potatoes. I guess these guys really like their potatoes.
In any event we visited Jamison’s first, the tour was not that bad. Unfortunately unlike the States where most beer and wine tours are mostly free or offered at a very minimal charge, this one was 15 euros per person. The distillery has actually been closed for many years, and they now manufacture in County Cork, in Southern Ireland, but hey this is where it all started. The 30-45 minute visit, consulted of walk through the entire process, as well as a guided tour. My favorite part besides seen “G” get to do a taste test sample between Jamison’s, JAW black and Jack Daniels, was seeing actual barrels that were aged to various years. I believe 1, 3,5, 15 the color difference was truly amazing. Sadly we only got to sample the three year standard variety.
Eventually we stumbled over to Guinness, and ended up signing up for two different tours. The first was the standard self-guided. They’ve done an amazing job to create a tour you can do at your own pace and see how the product started back in 1779 right at St. James Gate, and how they get to producing in for today’s market. Sadly back in 1981 this facility was closed to brewing, but besides tens of thousands of tourists that descend upon this place to drink, I think they use for distribution.
The seven story tour facility, had several bars serving what else but the lovely black elixir, we are all familiar with but also a few other versions, I had no idea existed. Of course there is Guinness original, Stout, Draught and Foreign Extra Stout. And for all of you that are curious as to whether the draft tastes different in Ireland or is served at room temperature, both of these are myths. Now frankly I don’t have the best palate, but I think the beer tasted exactly the same as it would at my local bar except for two huge exceptions, the first of which is I was drinking it in Ireland and second, it was poured correctly here. Which by the way is exactly 119.5 seconds, sans cloverleaf too.
Our second visit was for the connoisseurs tour, which has to be booked in advance and is a with no more than 25 guest at a time, ours only had six. Plus it’s with a Guinness beer connoisseur, of which they have only six of. Needless to say this is really where I learned about the four main versions of Guinness, some really great history, and of course got to taste them all. Since it was such a private tour, it really helped me understand how important the Guinness family was and is to the city of Dublin let alone Ireland. The family still donates money and land to help better the community, and they really helped shape the city. To top off the visit was a final drink at the Gravity Bar high atop this building, with 360 degree views of the entire city very fitting end to a very very iconic place.
The factory has several restaurants and bars so you won’t go hungry or thirsty, although you need a ticket to get in and they are 15 euros and come with one beer. Oh yeah they have the biggest souvenir store devoted to Guinness I’ve ever seen. If you wanted something emblazoned with the logo, the toucan, or any other iconic figure you’ll find it here. Check out these crazy underwear, and no I didn’t buy them.