But I confess — I wasn’t exactly giddy with anticipation over the Guinness part. I saw my time accompanying Gary to the Guinness Storehouse (or, as he calls it, the Disney World of Beer) as payback for his past pilgrimages to the European mother ships of Ferragamo, Louis Vuitton, and Manolo Blahnik. I had tried Guinness, and while I knew I liked it better than any other beer I had tried, that didn’t mean a lot – because frankly, I don’t like beer. Or so I thought.
My first Ireland Guinness was actually in Mulligan’s, a pub with a long history and a reputation for “the best Guinness in Ireland”. I ordered a half pint. Mostly, I ordered to honor my commitment to acting like a local when I travel. Admittedly, I also wanted to confirm just how much I was not going to enjoy drinking for the next few days. And yes, I didn’t want Gary to be alone in his first “slainte” as he happily began his 6-day pub crawl. Imagine my surprise — I loved it. I don’t mean I found it more tolerable than I expected. I mean I really loved it.
photo by RBPhotography via pixabay
So the trip to the Guinness Storehouse at St. James Gate, the home of Guinness in Dublin for over 250 years. Thanks to the foresight and real estate savvy of Arthur Guinness, St. James Gate will be home for the next 8,743 years remaining on the lease. The stop went from an obligatory one hour pop-in to a four-hour experience. We learned everything about how the Black Stuff is produced, shipped, advertised, and poured.
What struck me was the intense focus on the consistency of the consumer experience: developing specialized shipping vessels to improve product quality over long distribution journeys, creating a franchise-like arrangement with pubs to make sure complete control over tap distribution, perfecting the double-pour into uniquely crafted glasses. The more I learned, the more I loved not just the beer, but the company behind it as well.
I haven’t forgotten this is a food blog.
The Guinness Storehouse boasts three restaurants and a rooftop bar, all of which highlight elements of the Guinness experience from the traditional pub to the brewer’s dining hall. We chose the 1837 Bar & Brasserie, named for the year the famous Guinness and Oysters pairing hit the foodie press. 1837 focuses on traditional and modern pairings with a menu of small plates and entrees designed for sharing and complementing all the Guinness varieties served.
“mushrooms on toast” by jenn kosar
I knew that beer and food pairings were a legitimate craft, but what I didn’t know is that Guinness is a “food” beer. Its complex flavors and smooth texture complement and highlight food the way we normally expect in a wine. Guinness pairings extend well beyond traditional beers — some well-known, like beef stew, soda bread, and chocolate — but others more unexpected, like short ribs, figs, and salmon.
“guinness wall of pairings” by jenn kosar
As part of The Brewer’s Project, Guinness is now brewing new variants on the original stout. My favorite? The West Indies Porter, a close match to the recipe originally developed to make sure the Guinness transported to Africa in the 19th century survived the journey in the tastiest way possible. The recipe morphed into the Foreign Extra Stout readily available today. The caramel and toffee flavors already present in the traditional Guinness are more prevalent here, and paired beautifully with roasted garlic mushrooms over toasted bread and rocket (arugula). The Dublin Porter was an even more perfect complement to fresh oysters with a squeeze of lemon.