Saturday, 7 April 2012

Day 22 - The Gravity of drinking Guinness

Arguably the most famous tourist attraction in Dublin is the Guinness Storehouse. The approach to the storehouse conjures all sorts of steampunk fantasies.

A few friends who have been here pointed out that although it is a must see, it is also a glorified marketing exercise for Guinness. The first three floors talk you through the making of this great stout. I plead ignorance on the intricacies of brewing booze. The manufacture of whiskey and stout seem have a lot in common. I believe one of the prime differences is the roasting of barley that gives Guinness its distinctive black and creamy texture. Arthur Guinness certainly turned beer making into an science and art.

The elaborate exhibition contains a waterfall emphasising the importance of water and a trellis of climbing hops which have climbed at least five metres up the wall!  There is a bewildering array of pipes and valves, a veritable maze of tubing. I am reminded of the complex mechanisms of the Tower Bridge in London. The age of the technology looks similar here, and just as complicated - human ingenuity at its finest. Maybe some of the pipes are just air-conditioning vents or simple plumbing. Who knows? 

 Nineteenth and early twentieth century technology was as mind-blowing then as technology is now, and perhaps more aesthetically pleasing.

Further up is a whole exhibit devoted to the history of Guinness advertising. The retro posters give a sliver of insight into 20th century values. These posters are more artistic than ads today. They aim to get messages across simply and are from an age before theories of advertising (and persuasion) had matured. Many pubs display posters like these as collectors items. They may seem strange and dated to us, but that was popular culture back then.

At the very top of the Guinness Storehouse is the Gravity Bar which offers the best views of Dublin. Unfortunately, by the time I reach the top night has fallen. But when I get my complimentary Guinness the bartender advises me to keep my ticket and come back during the day, for this is a sight that is not to be missed.

I linger over my Guinness and chat to a couple of girls who plan on going clubbing tonight. Am I getting too old for that? The bartender informs them of some of Dublin's best nightclubs and I bid them farewell - they've got to go home first and spend two hours - yes two hours - getting ready.

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