When you travel to Ireland for an epic vacation/destination wedding/honeymoon you have to make a visit to the Guinness Factory in Dublin. I may be more beer-inclined than most but it was truly an amazing museum full of interesting exhibits and interactive displays. It’s a self-guided tour which spans through several levels and ends with the Gravity Bar that has an almost 360 degree view of downtown Dublin. Along the way you get to learn about the hops, grain, brewing process, machinery, water, advertisements through the years, the coopers (the workers who made the barrels), etc. It is really well done and pretty much puts most other brewery/distillery tours to shame.
I really enjoyed learning about the coopers who made the barrels. There was a very informative but entertaining video about how the barrels were made entirely by hand and with no exacting specifications … just by the look and feel of the very skilled coopers. As you stand watching this video, you are surrounded by the tools that were used to manipulate the wood and could feel the energy and awe in the air. The craftsmanship is insane and it just makes you appreciate the work that went into something we take for granted.
I also really liked learning how to pour the perfect pint of Guinness. It was really fun and we got to keep together our giant group of 9 people so we could watch everyone pour their very own pint from start to finish. The tour guide was really fun and it was a great experience. We got our certifications to prove we know how to pour the perfect pint! I should print out my cicerone certification and hang them together in solidarity.
The artist’s interpretation of a pint of Guinness was really cool. I loved the carved dark wood bottom but the “foam” that was a moving and breathing floating lace pillow was just wonderful. We did grab a bite to eat at the cafe and the food was delicious. We had the Guinness stew (of course) and the ham sandwich. My sandwich was just perfect and I tried some of Sean’s stew and that was great as well. The gravity bar was so cool but I was bummed to learn that you had to present your tour ticket for a beer and couldn’t purchase a second round from the bar! It is so cool up there I desperately wanted to just hang out for a little while and drink a few beers after several hours of walking. I think the reason was it would be too packed in there and not be enjoyable. The Guinness itself was velvety with a rich body and flavors that were gentle yet present. Enjoying a Guinness in the states is totally different. The hops drop-off significantly and the malty caramel are not in the forefront like they are in Ireland. I pretty much drank a ton of Guinness while I was there because, well, it’s just not the same anywhere else.
After the Guinness Factory we decided to go to Bear, a restaurant I saw on The Layover and since I love and respect Anthony Bourdain I was able to convince my group of 8 to join me there for dinner. We made a reservation and popped into a little pub for a few drinks before dinner. We shared a few lovely pints and then had a wonderful dinner at Bear. I had the rosary cut of steak which was similar to a short rib steak. It was very flavorful but a little fatty for my tastes. The million dollar fried were fawned-over, the thick bacon appetizer was sinful and succulent, and the cheese cauliflower was soft and rich, My sister’s husband is a chef and he certainly enjoyed himself tasting all the different dishes while my mixologist friend Rooney really loved chatting with the bartender about their delectable cocktails. The service was great and the people who work there were very nice. All in all, a wonderful day and evening in Dublin well spent.