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05 July 201405:19AMeurope-2014travel


The Guinness Storehouse, as an anthropological artefact, is totally fascinating. It's a brewery museum the same way that Hamley's is a toy shop, which is to say not at all. What it is is a shrine to beer, literally in the shape of a giant beer glass, and with a liberal amount of wank and pretention sprinkled on top.

Once I stopped trying to learn from it and decided to just enjoy the utter silliness of it all, I actually began to enjoy myself quite a bit.

The whole thing opens with a deceptively informative breakdown of the brewing process, which as far as I can tell, involves torturing barley to within an inch of its life, then introducing some yeast to the resulting carbohydrate- rich sludge and allowing it to be literally predigested. I also learned that this process is both entirely automated, and no longer carried out at the premises we were visiting, which kind of takes the shine off it a bit when you're used to places like Little Creatures.

This was just the first two floors.

The third floor was devoted to a Tron-esque tasting arena where the importance of breathing in before you drink, swirling the beer in your mouth, and then exhaling only after your swallow. This, we were (no doubt perfectly relaibly) informed, was exactly how Guinness taters from around the world tested their local batches. Apparently the science is a real thing, but is possibly a good deal more complicated than the way we were taught. On the other hand, this experience enlightened me as to the existence of beer esters, which I'm sure James will find fascinating.

The next floor, in a building which was essentially a giant marketing ploy, was all about the history of marketing. I think the highlight here was Grace's realisation that the Guinness Book of World Records was actually published by Guinness. A very close second was the wonderful early newspaper ads, selling Guinness as a kind of miracle cure-all.

Then, in what was.possibly the most surreal experience of all, we were taken to Guinness-pouring school, complete with class photo and certificate. The process is essentially to pour most of the beer, then let the head form, then top it up. Not hard, but I still felt an odd sense of accomplishment when I managed a textbook glass of Guinness.

And then we got to drink our drinks in the oddly-named Gravity Bar, which is really just a room at the top of the building with a cursory bar in the middle and some admittedly pretty incredible views of Dublin below.

I get that this is possibly more cynicism than I'm meant to show. It really was great fun, and I liked the tasting, and I dug getting to pour my own pint. It was also, however, undeniably all a bit silly, and immersing myself in that silliness while simultaneously rolling my eyes at it was an integral part of what made it as fun as it was.

Oh wow, does that mean I'm turning into a hipster?

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