Guinness’ newly opened Open Gate Brewery in Dublin invites drinkers into a fully functioning, small scale, pilot brewery where the venue is only outshone by the beer itself. Brewery taprooms have been popping up left, right and centre over the past few years as brewers of all shapes and sizes look to cut out the middleman and deliver a direct service to their beer drinking customers. They’re easy and efficient in providing the drinker with the perfect experience as envisioned by the brewer at the start of the process. Here is where Guinness’ Open Gate brewery truly excels, by cutting out the middleman and providing a range of seasonal, select and rare brews.
Although the Guinness draught that we all know and love has remained the same over a number of years, innovation truly lies at the heart of Guinness, whether we are talking about the brewing process, drink delivery, nitrogenation, the widget, or even statistics, there is always room to develop, improve and be different. The Brewer’s Project at Guinness continues to innovate and, in the middle of all of this, come the end of the working day on a Thursday and Friday, you can drink the fruit of their labours in the Open Gate Brewery. On a normal working day, those friendly faces you will have seen in the Brewer’s Project adverts will be busying themselves checking on their brewing process and trying out their newest recipes. You can’t just stroll in, you need to book in advance, and for all 6 of those Euros, you get a small rack of tasting beers as well as access to the taproom.
A sign outside the Open Gate Brewery reads:
Anything we can dream up, we get to brew
When we went to the Open Gate Brewery, we were treated to a testing rack containing the following delicious brews:
- Anniversary Pilsner (4.9%)
- Nitro IPA (5.8%)
- Chocolate Vanilla (6.3%)
- Antwerp Export (8%)
We sipped our way through these fine drinks, which were served on small rack’s in third pint glasses, although they only really offer a small taste of what is on offer behind the bar in the taproom. The pumps and fridges of the Open Gate Brewery have these select few, as well as the brewer’s Project mainstays, including the Dublin and West Indies Porter, Golden Ale and Hop House 13, as well as the true classic Guinness Draught.
When the majority of people talk about Guinness they are almost always referring to the Guinness Draught, but as we are often reminded, Guinness is a brewer, not just a beer. The Open Gate Brewery is the testament to that, where they brewed these varied and specialist beers. The Anniversary Pilsner, brewed according to the Reinheitsgebot (the German Beer Purity Law), is as far from a classic Guinness as you could image – crystal clear amber, with a refreshing and clean taste that was just too simple and easy to enjoy. The nitro IPA combined the classic Guinness nitro tap with a strong, hoppy IPA. The nitro gave the IPA a smooth, velvety texture which heightened the complex flavours whilst also putting a slight twist on the strong aromas, somewhat suffocating them under the strong head. The chocolate vanilla beer was different.
At Average Joes, we tend to approach flavoured beers with scepticism, as they tend to either lose their taste or overpower you, depending on how it was brewed. The chocolate vanilla beer at the Open Gate Brewery was slightly different, in that it was brewed quite well so as to have a good balance, but equally, losing a lot of the chocolate flavour, becoming more of a roasted coffee. That being said, it was a pleasant dark beer, but not one you would want many of. Something similar could be said of the Antwerp Export, given its 8% alcohol content left it as a slightly overpowering beer, that you would want to drink in moderation. Whilst it is said to be brewed with a Belgian style yeast, we have to admit that, having toured the brewing nation, we couldn’t quite find the similarity ourselves, as it was a bit sweet for our expectations.
The first time we had a sit down with Peter Simpson, the handsome face behind a fair few Brewer’s Project beers, he mentioned one of his favourite little pet projects had been to mature the classic Guinness draught in a rum cask. He described it is a bit of a mad scientist project, something with little commercial value, but a fun trial he just couldn’t pass up. Whilst at the Open Gate Brewery, such a cask was opened and we were treated to the absolutely delightful and incredibly deadly drink. If that is on offer when you visit, be sure to try it!
The Open Gate Brewery is a totally different way to experience and understand Guinness. It is a wonderful location, with a great atmosphere, filled with beer lovers and experts all looking to try out something different and special in the heart of Dublin. Sure, some of the beers escape these walls and find their way onto shelves and into pubs, but it is apparent that a good majority are unique experiments brewed within those walls that you won’t see anywhere else. A good reason to check in from time to time in fact! Tickets can be bought from here for €6, you have to book in advance and you get a rack of brews on the way in. Keep in the loop by following @OpenGateBrewery to know what’s on there for your visit, and let us know what you think.