I love wine. All wine. Even the cheap stuff. While I savor the special occasions when I might get to sip a Foxen Pinot or a lovely Brunello, if nothing else is available, I have been known to make due with Two Buck Chuck or even a glass of Franzia (yes, that’s the stuff that comes in a box).
But Dublin is not known for wine. It is known for beer, specifically one beer – Guinness. All the pubs serve it, many locals drink it and, not surprisingly, The Guinness Storehouse is the most popular tourist attraction in town.
During my first week living in Dublin, I allowed myself to take some time out from the trips to Ikea, calls to utility companies and vain attempts to open a bank account and be a tourist. My first stop was, of course, The Guinness Storehouse. Now, while I may be quite easy to please regarding wine, when it comes to beer, I am an unabashed snob. I am very, very picky and only like the really good stuff. I figured that by visiting its home base, I would figure out whether or not Guinness was the really good stuff.
As tourist attractions go, the Storehouse was pretty cool – informative, interactive and quite fun. And the pièce de résistance of the tour was, of course, the pint of Guinness that everyone gets to enjoy – either in the Sky Bar or the Pouring School.
On that visit, I opted for the Sky Bar. It was a dismal, grey, November day so the view that on some days might be spectacular was on this day rather depressing. I got my pint and took my first sip ever of Guinness. Meh. Honestly, I was unimpressed. It didn’t taste bad, but I didn’t love it. Oh well, at least I gave it a try.
I visited the Storehouse again this past March with my BFF, who was in town from Los Angeles. Despite not loving it last time, I still got my pint – it was included in the ticket price after all – and gave Guinness another whirl. And this time was different. This time I gave it more of a chance. And this time, I liked it. It tasted lighter than one would think based on its color, the foam was creamy and smooth, I even detected hints of coffee and chocolate after a couple sips. And from that moment on, I was a fan.
I have since partaken of a few pints of Guinness in various pubs in Dublin, and even in a castle in Sligo. I can confirm, without a doubt, that Guinness is indeed the really good stuff. And while I know it wouldn’t technically have mattered if I never grew to like it, somehow I feel that being able to enjoy this brew, like so many of my fellow Dubliners, makes me more a part of things in my new city.
And that is also some really good stuff.