Of course, Arthur didn’t live that long, but his legacy has.
The Irish Times described the first Arthur Day in 2009 as “a masterclass in how to fabricate a national holiday” with its “a la carte attitude to traditional holidays” – noting it’s countdown to one minute before six (recalling New Year’s Eve), the “faux-patriotism that comes with a celebration of a “national drink” and the “hagiographic treatment” of Arthur Guinness as some kind of saint. The paper warned, “If St. Patrick’s Day, Christmas, and Halloween are festivals that offer an excuse for a drink, Diageo (the conglomerate that now owns Guinness along with Johnnie Walker, Crown Royal, J & B, Smirnoff, Captain Morgan and Baileys, to name a few) has flipped the concept on its head and made the drink an excuse for a festival.”
Ooooh, I do so love drama, especially when I’m not the one on stage. In fact, I love drama more than I do Guinness Stout. Truth be told, I’ve never really been much of a beer drinker (I’d have to admit, though; that sweet bit of foam atop my glass of Guinness Stout was better than anything I’d previously tried by way of a pint). I don’t drink coffee either despite the savory whipped cream on top of all those cups of java at Starbucks. I know; I’m very weird.
Here’s something really off the charts, as long as I’m into shocking you with my weirdness; I’m allergic to potatoes. Yeah, that one is really out there; no chips, no fries, no mashed/baked/scalloped potatoes; no potato salad. I’ve come across one other person that’s allergic to potatoes. Help me out, here; anybody else willing to admit to being uniquely weird along with me?
I’m not sure anymore where I’m going with all this confessing and digressing. I do know potatoes are not your everyday ingredient when it comes to making beer, although it has been done. Guinness stuck to the basics in his search for a distinctive brew: barley;
Roasted barley is what eventually gave Guinness an edge in the market and the distinctive ruby red color (yep, his porter looks black, but it’s actually ruby red) of his beer. Roasted barley was the key ingredient in porter, a brew developed by London brewer Ralph Harwood in 1722. The drink became so popular with porters of Covent Garden in Billingsgate, that Harwood adopted their name for his new beer – Porter.
Sometime during the 1770s Guinness stopped brewing ale and devoted his entire production to brewing porter alone, the working man’s beer that in the day had a considerably higher alcohol content than it does today. He went one step further and used a mixture of nitrogen and carbon dioxide (carbon dioxide is usually the only ingredient used in most beers) to dispense his stout, giving his unique brand of porter the famous tight creamy head. A legacy that has lasted five generations was born.
The bottles contained a certificate ‘from the office of King Neptune,’ a gold bicentenary Guinness label, a note about the shipping line involved in dropping the bottle, and instructions on how to turn the bottle into a table lamp. For all those man caves out there, right?
I even discovered the secret ingredient that goes into every glass of Guinness. I hope Guinness doesn’t mind me letting the secret out of the bag/brewery.
Personally, I like my pizza with a Coke, but then I've established my propensity for weirdness early on in this post.
The Bottom Line on the Guinness Storehouse:
Verdict: It's the number one attraction in Ireland for a reason. Okay, the beer may be a big reason, but you still won't be disappointed if you're even half as weird as I am and rarely drink beer. Besides, the views from the 360 Gravity Bar are awesome. The museum is steeped in history, more history than hops nowadays. It's also designed in the shape of a giant pint of Guinness, that, if full, would hold 14.3 million pints. They sure know how to work the subliminal messages.
How to Get There: Hop the pond if you're coming from the States and head for Dublin. All roads lead to the Guinness Storehouse when in Dublin. Your cabbie knows the place; it's a stop on every double-decker tour bus' route.
Insider Information: Purchase your tickets online and receive a 10% discount off the 16.5 pound adult ticket at the door. Families get a deal (2 adults and up to 4 children) with admission for six for 40 pounds. Your ticket includes a complimentary pint of Guinness for adults, a soft drink for anyone under 18 (or those not crazy about beer). I'm not crazy, in general; I took my pint and savored the moment.
Nearby Food: Not much in the area; fortunately Guinness offers several options onsite on the fifth floor, where you can enjoy foods with a secret ingredient that enhances your dining experience. You guessed it; Guinness.