Ireland – The Guinness Tour, Real Deer and The Best Pub Experience of Your Life

So, the one thing that we were told to do while were in Dublin was the Guinness Tour.

From what I could gather, nothing else mattered, and I quote: “Forget the Heineken tour. Forget the Jameson’s Tour. Go to the Guinness Tour” – Michaela Sweet.

Needless to say, we were pretty darn excited for the tour.

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Bec and I had booked our tickets online yesterday. We decided that we would go at 10:45 am, because that was the cheapest time available. It was only 28 euro instead of 40, so we’re pretty chill on that.

We found out the other day that Holly, Jennine (Holly’s mum) and Tom (Holly’s brother) are also going to be in Dublin today on their way through to London to exhibit in the annual fashion week. We’re all about meeting mates on the other side of the world, so we hit them up and told them that they should come and do the tour with us.

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Naturally, they are dead keen, so we hang around.

What we didn’t know was that their luggage went walk about, so we got there at 10:45, and they ended up arriving after 11:20. They had to hang back to wait for the bag full of all the garments to arrive, so that they knew they would actually have all the pieces for the show.

Needless to say, Holly and Jennine were a little on edge that morning. By the time they got to us, they were breathing sighs of relief, but even mentioning the ordeal would invoke wide-eyed commentary.

We just kinda hung around in the lobby, playing games on our phone till the guys arrived. We found out that we really didn’t have to be there at 10:45. Its a self-tour anyway, so you don’t even have to follow a guide around. Thats why we didn’t.

We just sat in the lobby, getting weird looks from the staff.

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Right beside where we were sitting, was a stand full of guides in all different languages. To keep myself entertained, whenever I saw someone standing by the stand, I would reach to any language I could find, and with the straightest face I could conjure up, would hand the person a guide in a foreign language, and just watch to see what their reaction would be. Literally every person I gave a guide to, would just look at me for two seconds, read the front, read the back, and say thanks as they walked off with a useless guide in their hands. People will pretty much do anything you tell them to. Its so absurd.

Every time it would work, I would nudge Bec “Babe! He took another one…”
“Yeah cool”, she would reply, while she is balls deep in her game again.

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The Kiely crew meet up with us, and we get going along the tour. The tour literally covers everything from how the people at Guinness pick the right grains of wheat for the beers, to how the casks are made from scratch. The tour shows clips in black and white of blokes from way back making the casks by eye. The only part of the process that actually uses a measuring tool is when they are making the lid. Other than that, they make everything by eye.

It is actually amazing.

A testament to craftsmanship of yesteryear.

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They talk about Arthur Guinness and that he and his wife had 21 kids. No bloody joke… But, the mortality rate back then was so insane, that they lost 11 of them. Thats not exactly a good innings. 21 is insane, but only winding up with 10 is mental. Arthur Guinness, also signed a 9000 year lease for the land on which Guinness is operated. So far, they are only around 250 years into the lease. And that isn’t a typo. The lease is for 9000 years. Whoever his lawyer was, and whatever they got paid for negotiating that, they didn’t get paid enough.

The entire tour revolves around a giant cylindrical set of glass panes, spanning through 6 floors, to make the shape of a giant pint glass.

Genius.

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They literally churn our millions of pints each day. Its pretty crazy. We reached this one section where they teach you how to drink you Guinness. Unsurprisingly, there is an art to drinking such a fine brew. The trick is this, you take a breath, take a big mouthful and let it coat your tongue and all over your mouth, swallow and breathe out. The craziest bit, is that it is on the breathing out when you really get to taste all the flavours. That was crazy town.

After we get taught how to drink it, we get to learn how to pour it. There is a whole group of us that goes through for this.

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The chick explains it to us. First step, you angle the glass on a 45 degree angle, and then just as the glass is about half way, you straighten it up. One it reaches 75% full, you flick off the tap and let it settle. You will be surprised how important this is. After the drink has settled, then you top the beer up, by pushing the tap away from you. This will slow the flow of the pour, and give it a nicer finish. You should finish the pour with a nice creamy domed head of foam.

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“Who wants to go first?”, she asks. I know nobody is gonna volunteer, so I just jump balls deep.

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“Yep. I’ll give it a crack”. I pick my glass, begin the pour, and everything is looking good. I do my first half of the pour, and leave it to the side to settle. Bec, Holly, Tom and Jennine follow suit. By the time that everyone is finished, my beer is ready to go again. This is the testing part of the pour. I pick up my beer. Everyone is watching. I can feel their eyes piercing.

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I keep my pour going, my eyes intent on making sure I nail this bit.

I stop, and I know I am cutting it fine, but I really wanted that beautifully domed guinness head. Everyone is giving me the “Oooooo” treatment, as we all watch the froth grow at the top of the glass. It slowly continues it’s growth, until finally, it seeps over the edge. Even the instructor chick was showing signs of distress. “We call those, Arthur’s tears”.

Well balls…

Way to really make a man feel like crap for a first pour.

Bloody hell.

Made the founder of the international Guinness brewing company cry.

Bugger me.

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I don’t care, it tastes just as great as you think it should. I do have to say, though, the whole warm guinness thing… Not really a thing here hey. So, stick that up your ass, cos cold guinness is nice as. We get our beers, and head to the rooftop bar. You’ve got a clean 360 degree view of the city from up here, and Dublin really doesn’t grow up. So, you’re got a clear sight pretty much the whole way along.

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People said to us that its worth doing the tour just for the view at the top. They were pretty much bang on. The bar at the top has just got bulk Guinness taps. Its like the sort of thing you should see on a commercial.

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With our heads full of facts and bellies full of beer, we leave the Guinness tour. By this time, it is nearly 3:30 in the afternoon. We made a bloody good day of it. We did kinda loose our last credit card too, which some legend handed back in at the reception desk. Bec was freaking right out. I had 10 pound on us, so worst case scenario, we had to make 10 quid work for 2 days. It would be a challenge, but I think it would be possible.

We decide that the next best thing would be to head to Phoenix park, which is Dublin’s answer to Central Park. Except that it is twice the size. It actually is 1760 acres. That is a bloody big city park. In fact, it is so big, that there is a herd of deer that live in the park. This was the main reason we were headed there.

However, as we were walking through the park, Jennine started feeling a little crook. Naturally, we didn’t want her missing out. Being that the park was so massive, we collectively decided that it was best if the guys all headed back to their hotel and caught up on some sleep, while Bec and I just kinda wandered the park.

The idea of spending so much time having to look for these deer had pretty much killed any ambition that we had originally, so Bec and I just kinda wander around. We figure that we should kinda just head in the direction of where we think the deer are going to be anyway, and if we get lucky, we get lucky.

I bought an apple just before we reached the park, and had to tear it in half (I actually tore the apple in half. Even ask Bec), so my hand is getting stickier and stickier by the second. I’m just holding onto this until we reach a bin. As we are walking along the footpath, I look in the distance.

“Is that Deer over there??”, I ask Bec
“I can’t see that far”, she replied.

I couldn’t be sure, but it did look like antlers.

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We walked another couple meters, and then it clicked, all the shrubbery was actually deer too, and I was looking at the antlers of deer in the background.

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This is mental! As if there are real life deer in a friggin city park, and there are LOADS of them. The herd must have been a good 100 or more strong. At this point, I am stoked that I kept the apple. There is this chick with a carrot, but they don’t want a bar of that. We, however, have got deer eating out the palm of our hands.

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Literally.

We’re flipping out.

They are still a little skittish, but there are a few deer that are super bold, with others around us, and fully don’t even seem to be scared or care in the slightest. This is the oddest thing I have seen, but we are loving it.

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We watch them leave the oval they were grazing, and we are blown away by the accuracy of their spacial awareness. The deer all know exactly how big their antlers are, and they will duck their heads just enough to get under the railing by maybe 10-20mm. Its seriously impressive.

We get our fill, and make our way back home.

Holly and the guys are going to come around to the place we are couch surfing. Fadwa has got a wedding in Cameroon, and needs to get sized up for a dress. Conveniently, Holly is a Millner/Dressmaker, so that works, and on the flip side, Holly and Jennine are looking for a clothing manufacturer, and Fadwa’s Dad owns a clothing manufacturing business in Morocco. So, it would seem that this would be an ideal connection for the guys to make.

They meet us at the house, we meet one of Fadwa’s very Irish mates, and head out for a feed. The guys head back to the hotel room, while Bec and I are dead keen for a burrito, so we just decide that we’re all gonna meet up at O’Neill’s for a drink after dinner.

We wrap our gobs around the best meal I have had in a while. All I could think about was just a kebab or a burrito for pretty much the whole afternoon, so this is absolutely nailing everything I need in life. We decide to just chill and play some games while we wait for more of the night to pass. The longer we wait, the further the guys will be into their meal at O’Neill’s, so we will pretty much be ready to rock and roll in the drinks department.

We finish our God sent burritos and wander the streets to O’Neill’s.

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We find Holly and Tom so much easier than we really should have at a place like this. Its really just a giant maze that serves alcohol. Its utterly brilliant. Holly underestimated the size of the portions, and is suitably blown away by the amount of food that she hasn’t been able to finish eating. She’s just sitting in this bewildered state. Its kinda funny to watch.

I ask the guy if there are any acts on tonight, to which he lets us know that there is a duo, as well as dancers.

“Dancers?”, Bec asks
“Like, exotic dancers?”, with a cheeky smile spreading across her face.

She knows what kinda dancers, and she is as pumped as you would expect her to be. We get our beers, and just kick back at the bar, chatting away and laughing about whatever we want to laugh about. We’re seating and chatting for no more than 15 mins, when all of a sudden, we begin to hear the strumming of the guitar coming from the lower section of the pub. This is the signal for everyone in the pub to start their migration to surround the performers.

This spot is so small, that it is hard to believe that there should really be anyone performing in that small of an area. We were only maybe 30-40 second behind the first wave of migrators to watch the performance, but that was all it took. We were now hard pressed to find anywhere to stand, let alone, sit. So, we just assume our positions by hand rails and over the shoulders of other patrons as the show begins.

The duo is a guitarist and a Banjo/Mandolin player. These guys really are a good match. I could not fault the music in any way. They would belt out tune after tune, in perfect sync, and each time the entire Irish populous would say things like “Ohhhhh! Boys! This is us!” at the announcement of each song.

There was a specific little posse of Irish lads just at the top of the stairs, who had brought their stools over from the bar to watch. The duo are in the middle of a song change, and the runt of the group had assumed one of his mate’s seats. Naturally, this is not the done thing. So upon the discovery of his “friend” stealing his seat, with a fresh beer in his hand, he booms throughout the pub “Youuu. F**kinnnn. Repppppptile!”

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Nobody in the pub was ready for that original of an insult. Who even calls someone a reptile? That is the best insult I have ever heard, and the rest of the pub thought the same. There were little giggles throughout the whole bar. His mate looked ashamed now that the spotlight was on him, and He looked as chuffed as he was surprised that the comment got such a response.

The band then introduces the dancers for the first time of the evening.

As the music starts, the dancing duo make their way onto the floor, as everyone clears a path for them to perform. Again, it does not seem big enough for people to be dancing, but here we go anyway. They begin to tap away, spinning, clicking and sliding across the floor, as everyone is mesmerised by the way they move.

Naturally, some of the lads are a little in love with the young female dancer, and they’re not shy of letting her know either. She just kinda fobs it off. I’m assuming that this isn’t her first rodeo. Bec is utterly loving life. Her only thing that she said she wanted to do while she was in Dublin was that she wanted to see a river dance show.

I mean, this really isn’t a show, but its still a performance, and a bloody good one at that. She tells me “I haven’t smiled this much since we got to Dublin”. Her cheeks are like chipmunks. She is loving every minute of this. Holly used to actually do exactly this, and talking with her about the dancers, she was able to shed more light on how good these guys really are at their craft. They are pretty bloody amazing.

The two dancers aren’t shy of getting everyone involved from the crowd, as they pick people out at random. All this is casually happening in a little corner of the pub. The beers flow, and Tom lands a freebie from a bloke over by the bar, because he stood up and let the guy’s mrs take a seat.

“Awwww… I like this place”, Bec says. Literally everyone is having the best time. Beers are flowing, cheers are happening, mates laughing, only the Irish are singing, because none of us foreigners know the songs that “everybody will know”, but that doesn’t mean that you stop moving.

Its a wicked night in, and the thing that keeps catching us off guard is that it is only a Monday night.

Its a Monday. People are drinking, dancing and singing at the start of the week.

This is real life.

Bec and I split from Holly and Tom and head home due to the sleepiness kicking in.

Its been an amazing day.

Come back for the next story,

Billy

2 thoughts on “Ireland – The Guinness Tour, Real Deer and The Best Pub Experience of Your Life

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