Every second, 26 pints of Guinness are consumed in Ireland!
Growing up in a family pub business in Dublin, Ireland surrounded by pints of the black stuff, I always had an interest in the story behind Arthur Guinness and the incredible success of his legendary stout spanning over 255 years. So when my fabulous sister, who now owns the pub, invited me to join her on an exclusive tour of St James’s Gate Brewery courtesy of Diageo, I was delighted!
The tour group was mostly made up of representatives of several pubs from around the city so it was great to have the opportunity to meet other pub owners. We met at St James’s Gate reception where we were warmly greeted by the lovely Diageo rep, Harry. Brand ambassador, Padraig was our super guide for the day and he walked and talked us through the massive historical site, starting off at Brewhouse No.1 where it began in 1759. If you look closely in the pic above you’ll see the Brewhouse with the clock on the exterior.
So Arthur Guinness was Born in Celbridge, Co Kildare in 1725. When he was 27 years old he received inheritance of £100 from his godfather, which he used to set up his own ale brewery in Leixlip, Co Kildare. A few years later, in 1759 he signed a 9,000-year-old lease on a small, disused and ill-equipped property at St. James’s Gate. Ten years later Arthur was exporting six and a half barrels of Guinness beer to England. However in 1799, a dark beer from London was becoming popular in Dublin so Arthur made the bold decision to stop brewing ales and perfected his black beer instead (thank goodness)!
We continued to the next Brewhouse on the tour but unfortunately it wasn’t open to view. By 1838, St James’s Gate had become the largest brewery in Ireland and the largest in the WORLD in 1886, with an annual output of 1.2 million barrels! Today it is still the largest brewer of stout in the world.
The Brewery had doubled in size, accommodating its own railway system, cooperage and barley maltings. It was known as ‘a city within a city’ and had its own medical department, fire brigade and canteen for its staff.
We made our way to the third Brewhouse (pictured above) where a number of large portraits and photographs are on display along the walls of the staircase leading to the vats. Impressive but nothing compared to what we were about to see next on the tour – the newest and mother of all Brewhouses, Brewhouse No.4, which opened in 2014.
To get to Brewhouse No.4 we took the underground pedestrian tunnel that runs underneath St. James’s Street. Long and narrow, it reminded me of London’s Tube and we later learned that the man who designed the London Underground also designed this tunnel.
As we came out of the tunnel it was like stepping into the future. The only reminder of the past was the distinctive smell of the hops and malted barley wafting through the air. We approached the massive Brewhouse No.4 facility, which looked like something out of NASA. The new brewhouse is 10,000 square metres and one of the most technologically advanced and environmentally sustainable in the world. It produces 27 million pints a week and has the capability to produce four million pints a day!
Impressed and thirsty, we didn’t think it could get much better until Harry (our friend from Diageo) announced our final destination, The Open Gate Brewery for some beer and food tasting. Read about it here
Yey to Harry and Diageo – great tour!