TRAVEL with pat and lew

* the Guinness factory at St. James’s Gate

Posted by Lew Weinstein on March 2, 2007

It is said that the famous black beer contains all of the food groups, and that one can survive quite well on a diet of Guinness alone. Many of the Irish are alleged to have put this theory to the test, with varying results.

From the Guinness web site:

… Arthur Guinness was born in 1725 near Dublin in the town of Celbridge, County Kildare where his father was a Land Steward whose duties included brewing beer for the workers on the estate. Thus young Arthur learnt the art of brewing at an early age.

… Arthur acquired a small, disused and ill-equipped brewery at St James’s Gate, still today the site of the Guinness brewery. The lease, signed on 31 December 1759, was for 9000 years (that’s not a typo) at an annual rent of £45.

… Arthur initially brewed ale, but by the 1770s a new drink, a strong black beer called porter was being exported from London. Arthur made the wise decision to brew this new beer himself, and the rest is history.

… Arthur also had the wisdom to marry an heiress. They had 21 children, 10 of whom survived into adulthood, thus establishing the family hierarchy which ran the brewery for many generations.

The Guinness factory is a 15 minute walk from our Dublin home. As we approach the grounds, we see a wonderful juxtaposition of huge shiny brewing tanks and the grey stones of a Catholic church, standing proudly side by side, dual pillars of Irish life.

The tour includes more Guinness history, enlightening descriptions of each stage in the brewing process, a lesson in how to get full enjoyment from every sip, and a voucher for a pint with lunch at one of the several restaurants.

But the highlight is clearly the opportunity to “pull” your own pint, a time honored process you can see repeated in any bar in Ireland and many in Manhattan. I already knew that you don’t just fill the glass.

I’m instructed to pull the tap and fill just to the designated line on the pint glass. The partial pint is then placed on the bar to settle, and for everyone to anticipate the cool taste that awaits. After a suitable wait, I finish the pull, with the tap in the opposite direction (no gas) to achieve a perfect creamy head.

If you’re really good, you can carve a replica of the Guinness logo into the head. I wasn’t that good.

We take our pint to the rooftop bar, where the 360 degree view of Dublin is stunning, including, far off in the distance, the mountains of Wicklow from which the cool water flowed to make the beer we’re now drinking.


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