The most popular visit in town is this multimedia homage to Guinness, one of Ireland's most enduring symbols. A converted grain storehouse is the only part of the 26-hectare brewery that is open to the public, but it's a suitable cathedral in which to worship the black gold. Across its seven floors you'll discover everything about Guinness before getting to taste it in the top-floor Gravity Bar , with its panoramic views. Pre-booking your tickets online will save you money.
Since Arthur Guinness (1725–1803) founded the brewery in 1759, the operation has expanded down to the Liffey and across both sides of the street; at one point, it had its own railway and there was a giant gate stretching across St James's St, hence the brewery's proper name, St James’s Gate Brewery. At its apogee in the 1930s, it employed over 5000 workers, making it the largest employer in the city. Increased automation has reduced the workforce to around 600, but it still produces 2.5 million pints of stout every day.
You'll get to drink one of those pints at the end of your tour, but not before you have walked through the extravaganza that is the Guinness floor show, spread across 1.6 hectares and involving an array of audiovisual and interactive displays that cover pretty much all aspects of the brewery's history and the brewing process. It's slick and sophisticated, but you can't ignore the man behind the curtain: the extensive exhibit on the company's incredibly successful history of advertising is a reminder that, for all the talk of mysticism and magic, it's all really about marketing and manipulation.
The point is made deliciously moot when you finally get a pint in your hand and let the cream pass your lips in the vertiginous heights of the Gravity Bar. It's the best pint of Guinness in the world, claim the cognoscenti, and die-hards can opt for the Connoisseur Experience, where a designated barkeeper goes through the histories of the four variants of Guinness – Draught, Original, Foreign Extra Stout and Black Lager – and provides delicious samples of each.