Eurotrip Day 4: Dublin Day – Jameson, Guinness, & Everything in Between

IMG_1049This post is part of our Eurotrip Series.  You can find the rest of the series here.

Eurotrip Day 4 was packed with authentic Dublin experiences.  We had a fantastic time walking all over the city and exploring the sights, sounds, and tastes.  Dublin is packed with history, culture, music, and of course, great adult beverage options!


  • Adventures – Write-ups of the activities we enjoyed during our visit.
  • Hotel Spotlight – Where we stayed and our review of the accommodations.

Adventures

Screen Shot 2016-05-12 at 9.23.22 PMOld Jameson Distillery

Our day started with a tour of the Old Jameson Distillery.  Yep – Whiskey in the morning!  Fortunately, Dublin is a relatively small city, so walking everywhere was not a problem.  We arrived a bit early for our 10am tour (first of the day).  After briefly exploring the entry hall, our tour guide, Niall, called us into the theater to begin the tour.

We watched a brief video on the history of Jameson whiskey production, beginning when John Jameson set up shop on Bow Street in 1780!  Niall then took us through the various stages of the whiskey production process, from drying the grain, to mashing, fermentation, distillation, and maturation.

I personally love learning about the process of creating fine spirits, because it gives a greater appreciation of the final product.  I particularly enjoyed the discussion on barrel aging in different second-use barrels (including bourbon, port, and sherry barrels).  After many years in each of these barrels, a master blender selects the perfect mix to create a consistent, high-quality flavor profile.

At the conclusion of the tour, we had the opportunity to do a 3-way taste comparison between American Whiskey (Jack Daniels), Scotch (Johnny Walker), and Irish Whiskey (Jameson, of course).  Tasting each side-by-side really highlights the differences between what I originally thought were very similar spirits.

As we exited the tasting area, servers offered a final drink option – a pour of Jameson neat or a Jameson & Ginger with lime.  We grabbed one of each and chatted with Niall for a few minutes.  He told us about the other brands of whiskey produced by Jameson, including Redbreast and Green/Yellow Spot, all of which were delicious.  If we had extra time, I would have loved to do the full tasting experience, but we needed to rush off to our walking tour!

Tip #1 – Book your tour tickets online in advance.  This guarantees you a spot and saves 10% off the ticket price!

Tip #2 – Whiskey enthusiasts should also visit Teeling.  It is the only active distillery in Dublin, since Jameson moved their production operations out of the city (to Cork).  

Dublin Free Walking Tour

We knew we booked a tight schedule, because our free walking tour was scheduled to begin at the Spire at 11am.  We left the distillery at 10:55am and rushed to the tour location.  Despite our brisk pace, we missed the group at the Spire, but we found them at the first stop – Trinity College.  Tip – If you miss the starting point, look for a yellow umbrella at one of the tour stops to join up.

Our tour guide, Dave, was GREAT!  He is a true Dubliner, and his passion for the city is contagious.  He told excellent stories about the city’s Viking history, and he took us to great landmarks – including Trinity College, Old Parliament, Temple Bar District (lunch stop), Dublin Castle, Christchurch Cathedral, and more!  This is one of the highest-rated tours on Tripadvisor, and we definitely agree.  The tour is free, but be sure to tip your tour guide if they do a great job.

Guinness Storehouse Tour and Connoisseur Experience

After wrapping up our walking tour at Christchurch Cathedral, we walked over to St. James Gate for our tour of the Guinness Storehouse.  I cannot say enough about how fantastic this experience was!  The Guinness Storehouse is an 8-floor complex devoted to spreading the love of Guinness beer.  Here you can have a full sensory experience of the brewing process, learn to pour the perfect pint, explore the history of the Guinness brand, and enjoy 360-degree views from high above Dublin!

Tours of the storehouse are self-guided, and adult ticket prices start at 16 euros, depending on the date/time of your visit.  We reached out ahead of our visit, and Guinness reps assigned us a personal tour guide, to make sure we could tell all of you exactly what to see at the storehouse.  Alan, our tour guide, was an excellent brand ambassador, and he showed us a great assortment of what the storehouse has to offer guests.

Our tour started with the document that started everything – the 9,000-year lease, signed in 1759 by Arthur Guinness, embedded at the center of the facility.  We walked through exhibits dedicated to the ingredients (hops, water, grain, & yeast) and processes (malting, milling, mashing, boiling, and fermenting) involved in brewing a batch of Guinness.  I found it fascinating that Guinness has used the original strain of yeast to ferment their beer since the brewery opened – that’s some 250+ year-old yeast!

We continued through the beer distribution methods that Guinness has used over the centuries, including barrels, trains, kegs, and even entire hulls of ships!  Next, we ventured down an LED-lit hallway into a white-walled room filled with clouds of mist – The Tasting Experience.  Here we were able to smell each of the ingredients used in Guinness, before bringing it all together and sipping from a mini-pint glass. The tour continued through the world of art and advertising.  We followed along with the various ad campaigns that Guinness has used over time, including the iconic toucan.

Alan then dropped us off at a swanky private bar for our Connoisseur Experience, the most exclusive offering at the Storehouse.  Thousands of people visit St. James Gate every day, but very few gain access to this guided tasting.  Here, we sampled four varieties of limited Guinness offerings, and we had personalized instruction on pouring the perfect pint.

Our time at the Guinness Storehouse concluded with a trip up to the top floor Gravity Bar.  This glass-walled bar sits high atop the Guinness compound and offers excellent views of Dublin and the surrounding areas, while you enjoy a pint of the famous “black stuff.”  No trip to Dublin would be complete without a visit to the Guinness Storehouse!  Book your tickets in advance and save.

IMG_4642
Beers over Dublin

Open Gate Brewing

For the craft beer enthusiasts, who scoff at Guinness’s beer… First off, stop doing that; Guinness makes a quality product.  If you’re not convinced after visiting the Storehouse, feel free to yell at me.  Second, after vising the Storehouse, you should check out Open Gate Brewing – Guinness’s pilot brewing location just around the corner.  While this location has operated as a test facility for a long time, they finally opened their doors to the public in December 2015.  To get in, you will need to buy a ticket in advance online.  Don’t wait, because tickets sell out.

We sampled all eight offerings during our visit, ranging from a sweet stout to a nitro IPA using experimental hops.

Bonus – The Back Page

After a long, fully day of touring and drinking our way through Dublin, our batteries were running pretty low.  Unfortunately, so were the batteries in both of our phones!  Leaving Open Gate Brewing, I set our offline Google Maps navigation back to our AirBNB.  Two blocks into the walk, the battery died, leaving us to make our own way in a foreign city.  We set off in the general direction, but after 30 minutes, we felt pretty lost!

Fortunately, we walked by a cool-looking pub called The Back Page.  I stepped in to ask if anybody had a charger we could borrow.  Fortunately, a very kind waitress offered to charge my phone.  While we waited, we ordered a delicious Hawaiian pizza with sweet corn!  We also found out that they offer ping pong tournaments and board games.  If you’re looking for a great hangout spot on the edge of Dublin, definitely visit The Back Page!


Hotel AirBNB Spotlight

Fortunately, we had not gone too far out of our way in search of our AirBNB.  Unfortunately, we had to go back to the same crummy place we stayed the night before.


Conclusion

Dublin Day was a whirlwind great time!  Jameson and Guinness really impressed us with their delicious beverages and high-quality tour experiences.  Dublin Free Walking tours provided an excellent look into the history and livelihood of the city.  We really feel that we got a great sampling of what Dublin has to offer in our limited time there.  If you have a single day in Dublin, feel free to copy our itinerary!  Cheers!

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