Guinness is Good
By Claire Roney
Until my study abroad trip to Dublin, I had never tried a Guinness. To some this is a grievous offense; almost as bad as when I admitted that I hadn’t tried Taco Bell until mid-sophomore year of college. For some others, Guinness was a famous name they had not felt compelled to try. And for a small percentage of people, the name Guinness meant nothing and the word ‘beer’ meant even less. I’m happy to admit I fit somewhere between the first two categories: I did feel compelled to try the famous porter, but I was waiting until my feet touched Irish ground. After a six hour layover in Oslo, Norway I successfully completed my mission.
I arrived in Dublin much later than the other members of my study abroad group. So naturally, as soon as I walked into our apartment complex I was greeted by several already-inebriated people, told to drop off my bags and was escorted to the pub just down the road. Collectively, the group of about 13 people ordered a pint of Guinness.
This Guinness was a lot of firsts for me: first legal drink, first purchased drink, first draft beer, first Guinnes, first beer in Ireland, first time drinking in public. I was 20 and just four months shy of my 21st birthday. Although shaky, I was able to order my pint, sit with the group, toast and take my very first sip of Guinness. It was nothing shy of amazing, and after another three pints, it was still amazing.
I soon found myself on a path of realization that when in Dublin (and I did not make this up on my own), you start your day with a Guinness and you end your day with a Guinness. Are you in a bad mood? Guinness. Stomach ache? Probably haven’t had your Guinness.
Guinness. Guinness. Guinness. It’s all you need.
If you think this is a classic college alcoholic kid raging to you about a beer franchise, allow me to put that to rest. Guinness has a long-standing history within Ireland and greater parts of the world. Throughout history the family name is stamped during important events: being a leader of foreign exports in Irish trade, becoming one of the forerunners of innovation in science and collaboration, and being a major advocate for creativity with its many advertising campaigns.
If you don’t understand my jibber jabber, this might be an easier look at what I’m writing about:
For a more comprehensive history, you can find a timeline here at the Guinness site.
If you’re still wondering why I bothered to blabber about Guinness so much, allow me to paint you this last picture:
Guinness is an experience: not just the drink or its beloved history in Irish culture, but also its evolution as showcased in the Guinness Storehouse.
Admittedly, I wasn’t too excited to go on this tour. I’m not usually excited to go on any tour. However, I was completely wrong about this one.
When you picture Guinness Storehouse, what do you see? Buildings, steam, smoke, water: I don’t think it occurred to me to picture much else since I was still in mourning for the Irish coast I left the weekend before. I arrived at much of the same scene, give or take a couple horse carriages and include a long line curving outside the storehouse doors. What I could not have imagined is how Guinness had designed a quasi playground-museum-theatre-restuarant out of a brick building.
I had had a plan when I entered the ticket line: Walk really fast through the floors, get to the top, order a lamb stew with a pint of Guinness, and make sure to take lots of pictures. That plan was thrown out the window after I spent 20 minutes on the first floor reading about the Guinness brewing process. I spent another 10 minutes re-reading some of the plaques, staring at the artwork and taking pictures.
The same type of process occurred with the other floors, only the time spent on each floor increased. There were tasting rooms, smelling rooms, an ampitheatre showcasing the newest Guinness commericals on a practically 360-degree screen, and a room where you learned the proper way to pour a Guinness.
My normal idea of the process of enrichment through another culture is finding a remote area with a small populace and spending about three weeks there, avoiding tours as much as possible. My Dublin equivalent was finding a divey bar with enough older, Irish men to tell me stories (which it turns out isn’t an issue because Ireland is crawling with these lovely places and lovely people). It doesn’t help that tours usually leave me with a need for a two to three hour nap. However, this tour was the best tour I have ever been on. I saved every scrap of paper I was given, savored every sip of Guinness and every smell that wafted my way, and I spent the majority of my time happily starving on the fifth floor where all of the Guinness advertisements were exhibited. It was a beautiful showcase of history and culture.
Unfortunately, Conan O’brien did not feel the same during his visit, but I encourage you to try it out and create your own experience. You won’t be disappointed.