I wandered the streets of Dublin, between the brick buildings and stone edifices waiting for the check in time of my hostel. There was music everywhere! I was in the Temple Bar district of the city, near the quay (Pronounced “key”), where the river Liffy flows through the city. On the sidewalks musicians perform for change, a different song on around corner. The songs ranged the gamut from modern pop music to classic rock, even a few traditional Irish performers. As I walked by enjoying the sound of the songs and looking in the various shops, I wondered how many times I would be doing this same thing, in different cities, and different countries across the rest of Europe. Here at least the language was not an issue. How well would I fare in France, my next location?
As I made my way around the streets and back towards the hostel, I found one narrow brick paved street with some advertising and graffiti on it. Dublin is an old city, and portions of it show the age, and reflect the recession’s effect. There are shuttered shops and posters advertising buildings for lease. Around one corner I came face to face with an old paper ad of a woman wearing a black dress, and a laced headband plastered to the site of a building that had been defaced and torn at. It struck me as quite beautiful, even in its damaged state.
Dublin is also a city being reborn. There is construction going on all over the place. Sidewalks closed to be repaved, and new construction underway. Any city of this age and size will change as the years go on, highs and lows. As the economy recovers, Dublin will rebuild and new businesses will fill the now vacant store fronts.
One area that has remained popular and up to date is the Guinness Storehouse tour. The old brewery building, built on land leased for 9000 (Yes 9 THOUSAND) years back in 1759 by Arthur Guinness was converted to a giant attraction in the early 2000’s. Now it is a 6 story recreation of a Guinness pint glass, with each floor telling a different part of the Guinness story. The ingredients and process of the brewing, the history, the marketing, the charitable causes, and training facilities to learn to properly taste a Guinness and to pour a perfect pint.
I went through the tour site, and was blown away by how in depth the location was. It was one of the best tours I have been on since I left home. There was a full on bar with the most amazing panoramic view of the city at the very top (The Gravity Bar) where you can sit and relax and enjoy a drink. There is are two small cafes and a restaurant in the building as well to enjoy a meal inspired by and including Guinness as ingredients. The gift store at the bottom level is impressive as well, and not terribly over priced as some tourist locations get to be.
I think the part of the tour that was the most fun was learning to pour “the perfect pint”. They take it very seriously and have developed a very specific way to go about each step and have a reason for each motion. Presentation is stressed heavily as they want everyone to see the beauty that is inherent in the beer, the black stuff they call it. The colors change as the beer is poured from the tap, the nitrogen rising causing the frothy head while the CO2 is pushed to the bottom. Slowly the dark red-ish brown draws its way from the bottom of the glass to near the head, and the whole drink becomes darker and darker as the creamy head settles to be just a few centimeters tall.
Then the proper way to enjoy a fresh Guinness. A deep breath, a long pull through the creamy head. Let the dark liquid roll over your tongue, finally falling over the back of your mouth and down your throat. Finally breath out, tasting the lingering hoppy taste until you start again with a sweet roasted flavors at the start of the next drink.
I am excited to have gotten this certification to be properly trained to pour and drink this most Irish of beers. It makes me excited to come back home to my favorite pub back home, O’Briens, with the only Guinness on tap! I find myself at the moment getting very hungry and very thirsty for some reason though. Time to sign off!