ST PATRICK’S Day, St James’s Gate, the home of the black stuff. And I make a confession that almost causes our taxi driver to crash.
“I’ve never tasted Guinness before.”
The Guinness Storehouse, where Ireland’s most popular export was once brewed, is now its most popular tourist attraction
I tried to explain to the cabbie — who looked angry, if not betrayed — that I HATE the taste of beer.
“Perhaps you’ve come to the wrong place then,” he said.
He couldn’t have been more wrong.
The Guinness Storehouse, where Ireland’s most popular export was once brewed, is now its most popular tourist attraction.
With seven floors of memorabilia and interactive exhibitions, I couldn’t help but be impressed. Even Willy Wonka would be green with envy at its giant glass atrium in the shape of a pint glass — and the tasting options dotted around the place.
The £14 admission includes a pint on the seventh floor Gravity Bar but £38 buys a VIP tasting session at the Connoisseur Bar, a luxury lounge tucked away on the fourth floor.
Thankfully I had brought my beer loving buddy James along for this.
He nodded and made encouraging noises while we talked and tasted our way through each variation of the black stuff with our expert guide, Aaron. Each half-pint was accompanied with a tasty pairing dish and a dozen facts about that particular version, from one of the oldest, Dublin Porter, to the strongest, Foreign Extra.
The £14 admission includes a pint on the seventh floor
They say it’s an acquired taste and I hadn’t quite acquired it yet. But there was nothing Aaron didn’t know about it and we left feeling like experts ourselves. If a little tipsy, which explains why I scuffed my attempt at pouring the “perfect pint”.
Thankfully, it was time for lunch. Even better, the brand new Brasserie 1837 was only a floor away.
I ordered the beef stew and could have happily eaten it twice. It was incredible. The tender bites of meat were dripping with a special gravy made with — you guessed it. Perhaps I could get used to it after all.
I’d have to for the next bit — the obligatory pint in the Gravity Bar — where we got to look across the entire city and beyond from a 360 degree glass platform.
Views don’t come much better than this in Dublin. I just wish our taxi driver could see me now, Billy No Beers inside the world’s biggest pint glass.
That’s an official record, by the way — or at least according to Guinness . . . I’m assured it’s not in any way biased.
Appropriately enough, I discovered my favourite of all Guinness concoctions up here — Black Velvet, a surprisingly tasty mix of Guinness and champagne.
Finally, a black bevvie I could thoroughly enjoy.
Before things got out of hand we were off to the swish Brooks Hotel, less than ten minutes by taxi from the Storehouse.
Here our attention turned to whiskey and — with more than a hundred different varieties to choose from — it was lucky we didn’t have another tasting booked.
Instead it was a night out around Temple Bar, inset, home to some of the best bars in Dublin, even if they don’t have a view of the city.
I really could have done with a comfy bed. But in the words of the Guinness advert:
“Good things come to those who wait”.
Nicely put Guinness’s chaps.
It took me 28 years to visit Dublin and learn to love its most famous tipple. Bed could wait a few hours yet.
GETTING THERE: Ryanair has flights from Luton, Gatwick or Stansted next month from £24 each way; see ryanair.com.
STAYING THERE: B&B at the Brooks Hotel is from £120 per night (brookshotel.ie).
OUT AND ABOUT: Entry to the Storehouse is from £14, including a pint in the Gravity Bar; see guinness-storehouse.com.