A trip to Ireland wouldn’t be complete without an investigation into what may be their most popular export. Booze. From St Patrick’s Day celebrations, to the term “I’ll take my coffee Irish”. The Emerald Isle is known for its alcohol production and consumption. During my trip, I was able to visit a distillery, brewery, and more than a few pubs.
The trip started with whiskey and ended with beer. On the first day, Sara, her parents, and I visited the Kilbeggan Distillery. The distillery began producing whiskey back in 1757 and continued manufacturing until 1959. In 2007, the distillery was reopened for production.
When visiting Kilbeggan, you are able to experience their 250 years of history first hand. The front half of the distillery is filled with artifacts, stills, and displays showing the companies origins and first 200 hundred years of production.
In the back half of the distillery, you can see the modern production facilities and how the whiskey is made today. Don’t worry. There is a tasting at the end of the tour where you can have a sample of the product.
The distillery was fascinating, but it paled in comparison to what we visited in Dublin. Ireland’s most popular export is Guinness. This stout is known worldwide for its dark rich body and thick creamy head on top. With millions of visitors visiting Dublin every year, a large percentage of them want to take a trip and see where the most famous stout in the world is made. This has lead Guinness to create the Guinness Storehouse. This museum is 7 floors filled with everything Guinness.
To begin the tour, you step into a glass opening that is shaped like a pint glass. This glass extends all the way up to the ceiling. If filled, it would hold enough pints for every person in Ireland to have 3 glasses. The tour is self guided and takes you up level by leverl where you can learn about Arthur Guinness and the history behind his beer. I will spare you the details of everything that the tour covers, but it is filled with fascinating facts about the production (did you know that Guinness buys 2/3 of the entire Barley crop in Ireland every year?), and the history. After learning more about Arthur Guinness, I was impressed. He was a man of vision and had a belief in what he was doing. When starting Guinness he signed a 9,000 year lease on the brewery at St. James Gate and after a few years of production decided that Guinness would only produce one beer and do that one beer better than anyone.
The tour is worth your time to walk through, but many decide to take the elevator directly to the Gravity Bar. The 7th floor of the storehouse is a circular room with panoramic views of the city.
It was cloudy and rainy when I visited, so you can only imagine what the view would be like on a clear day. To top off the whole experience, you are given a freshly poured pint of Guinness.
Keep in mind that you will have to wait a few minutes. A properly poured Guinness is poured, rests, and then topped with more beer. The people in Ireland not only know how to make some of the finest beverages in the world, they know how to enjoy them as well. After driving around the country; I learned one thing. Every town has a pub. No matter what the size, every town will have a pub. There may not be a gas station or grocery store, but if it is a town, it will have a pub. The pub is a place to grab a Guinness or Kilbeggan and socialize with your friends. Most of the pubs will serve food (that is another post) and almost all will have Irish music at night. My favorite grouping of pubs were found in Dublin. In the Temple Bar section of the city, you will find a dozen or so in very close proximity to one another. Sara and I enjoyed quite a few with our favorite being The Temple Bar. Great music, an outdoor beer garden, and plenty to drink. You can’t go wrong. To think of it, I don’t think there was a pub that I didn’t enjoy.
You may notice that the pub pictures aren’t the same as the rest of the pictures. They were shot in my i phone. I have a rule when it comes to taking pictures, when the beer comes out, the camera is put up. In a later post, I will go into more detail about the food that you will find in the pubs.