When you think of Ireland, one thing instantly springs to mind: Guinness. The dark nectar is synonymous with the country and no visit would be complete without sampling at least a few pints.
However, Guinness is not the only drink brewed in Ireland and there are a number of small micro-breweries that produce their own products that are also well worth a taste. Dublin is often the starting point for Irish trips so here are a few pointers on trying some fine celtic hospitality in the country’s capital city.
Guinness Brewery Tour
The first stop should without a doubt be the headquarters of Ireland’s most famous export, at the Guinness Storehouse. One of the country’s most popular tourist attractions, the storehouse is located in the centre of the St James’s Gate Brewery and offers visitors an intriguing insight into Ireland’s culture and history.
Just a short walk from the city centre, the storehouse was originally built in 1904 to house the Guinness fermentation process. The incredible steel building was modelled on a giant pint glass, with the central cavity stretching up from the ground floor to the Gravity Bar in the sky.
Visitors learn about the long history of Guinness during the self-guided tour, can sample the drink itself in the tasting room, and finish off in the Gravity Bar where they can enjoy a free pint while taking in the spectacular 360 degree view over the city.
It may come as a surprise but none of Ireland’s big name stouts, Guinness, Murphy’s or Beamish are actually Irish-owned today. Guinness is owned by British beverage conglomerate Diageo, Murphy’s by Dutch company Heineken and Beamish by the Scottish brewer Scottish and Newcastle.
But the craft of brewing traditional ales and stouts is alive and kicking in Ireland today – with many small, independent breweries selling their beverages directly to the public in their own pubs.
The Porterhouse in the trendy Temple Bar district, is one of the most well-known micro-breweries in Dublin and has several pubs in Ireland and London. Messrs Maguire near the O’Connell Bridge also produces an excellent stout that tastes quite different to Guinness, as well as their own ale and lager. Just don’t wander in an order a Guinness in any of these pubs unless you want at best a withering look and at worst a solid dressing-down from a sharp Irish tongue!
Jameson’s Distillery Tour
Another of Ireland’s famous tipples is ‘uisge beatha’ or the ‘water of life’, otherwise known to you and me as whiskey. Jameson’s is one of the most well-known Irish whiskeys and a visit to the old distillery is an interesting (and quite possibly intoxicating) experience.
The tour gives a good insight into the history and the taste of Jameson’s, revealing how three simple ingredients – barley, water and yeast – are transformed into the well-loved drink. And of course, don’t miss the complimentary shot at the end of the tour!
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