Guinness Storehouse vs. Smithwick’s Experience

I recently had the opportunity to visit Ireland with my family.  We were of the mindset that when one is touring Ireland one must learn about AND sample its brews.  It’s customary.  No, no, no…a requirement.  So, to meet this requirement, we participated in the Guinness Storehouse Tour in Dublin and the Smithwick’s Experience in Kilkenny on consecutive days in October – the “non-tourist season”.  Both were interesting, informative and offered beverages for tasting.

Below is my brief comparison of the two tours. 

Guinness Storehouse – Dublin – Thursday around 2 P.M.

  • The seven-story Guinness Storehouse is a historic building full of interesting facts about the brew and its creator, Arthur Guinness. The original 9,000-year lease that Arthur Guinness signed in 1759 for the St. James Gate Brewery is entombed in the floor of the lower level.  Quite fitting since this is where to tour begins.  The displays were on such a large scale making it visually stunning, especially the section on the ingredients – barley, hops, water and yeast.  The price was 18,50 euro per adult. We used the Dublin pass though.  I recommend it if you plan to be in Dublin for a few days.
Playing around in the marketing/advertising section. This was one of my favorite parts.

Pros:

  • Interactive Marketing Area – This made for great photo opportunities and was entertaining.
  • Food Court – Nice variety.
  • Displays – Large scale and well-done.
  • Vast Amounts of Information – Thorough history and brewing process information.
  • Tasty Ale (obviously)
  • Views from the Guinness Gravity Bar – Located seven-stories above Dublin with an approximately 280-degree view of the city.
  • Great Souvenir Shop

Cons:

  • Crowded – I would hate to be here during peak tourist season.
  • Small Elevators – Try to avoid using them.
  • Not enough seating in the Gravity Bar and overly crowded.  Couldn’t really enjoy the view of Dublin because you have to be right by the window to see it due to the amount of people crowded inside the room.
  • No Tour Guide – Required to read the many plaques or use a headset for most of the information.

Smithwick’s Experience – Kilkenny – Friday around 2 P.M.

Located along the Medieval Mile in Kilkenny, the Smithwick’s Experience (pronounced “Smittick’s” by locals) is a must see in this picturesque town an hour south of Dublin.  The tour takes place in the old brewery and is guided by a local “Cat” (someone from Kilkenny.)  The information on the brewing process was thorough and clearly presented.  The history went back to the Franciscan monks who originally started brewing in Kilkenny, all the way up to John Smithwick and his family.  The tour featured the history of the various struggles in running the brewery to include John Smithwick being Catholic during the Reformation and not being able to technically own his brewery and how the brewery survived and even thrived during WWII – called “The Emergency” in Ireland at the time.  The price is 15,00 euro per adult.

Cheers! Tasty ales.

Pros:

  • Tasty Ales – We were able to sample Smithwick’s three ales.  The red, pale, and blonde.  The blonde is yet to be exported out of Ireland because it is quite new.  It was delicious and probably my favorite of the three, but all were great.  
  • Tour Guide – This made it more personal, entertaining and allowed for questions.
  • Vast Amounts of Information – Thorough history and brewing process information.
  • Sample Room – Looked like a little, Irish, Smithwick’s themed pub.  A lot of seating and comfortable.
  • Not crowded – There was a good flow of people probably because the tours are guided and staggered, but never felt crowded.

Cons:

  • No food option onsite.
  • Beginning of Tour – It was a bit strange.  You’ll understand when you go.

So, what’s the verdict?  Go to both!  They were both enjoyable in their own way.  My advice though for the Guinness Storehouse – GO EARLY.  Maybe if you go early it will be less crowded, which was the biggest con about the experience.

If you enjoyed this blog, checkout my other experiences from Ireland.

Happy travels.

Things to do in Kilkenny Ireland

Published by Lex

Hi, I'm Lex! I moved to Europe in July 2019 and my goal is to seize every opportunity to explore this beautiful continent. I hope you will join me on this crazy adventure. Quick facts about me: I'm a mother of one and a wife. In addition to my husband and daughter, I also love coffee, wine, kickboxing, history, architecture, photography and reading.

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