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Published on October 8th, 2010 | by Anto

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300 Years of Smithwick’s

Smithwicks Brewery

The following is a guest post by Christian Hughes. Christian is a social media advocate and enthusiast and runs the popular digital marketing blog, Digitology. He can also be found on Twitter: @christianhughes

Culch has written about Guinness of late with Arthur’s Day just gone but what many people don’t realise is that Guinness isn’t Ireland’s oldest pint, and St. James’s Gate isn’t Ireland’s oldest brewery! 2010 marks the 300 year birthday for the Smithwick’s St. Francis Abbey Brewery in Kilkenny. To celebrate the milestone, the brewery has thrown open it’s doors and is inviting the public to tour the brewery. Always striving to keep you guys informed and not needing a second invite to view a brewery, Anthony and I were delighted to recently attend a private tour to get the full story.

The first stop on the Smithwick’s tour is The Cellar Bar where you will meet your lovely tour guide, in our case it was the very knowledgeable Suzanne who was to bring us around the brewery and detail it’s history from start to present day. Following a brief introduction, from The Cellar Bar you will be brought out into the original brewery courtyard and given a run through of the history behind the Smithwick’s family’s long brewing heritage; including their various ups and downs over the 300 years.

From here you will move out around the main brewery building to the original St. Francis Abbey. This beautiful building, while in a state of ruin, will give a true sense of history and contrast to the modern building around it. It’s hard to believe it’s been there since 1245 and the tour is the only way to see it. Coming back to the present day, however, the next stop on your tour will be the Tasting Room. It is here that Smithwick’s official tasters check and ensure the quality of every brew. You will also be able to enjoy a short video explaining the brewing process.

After the Tasting Room it was on to the brewery floor itself and your chance to see the fermentation and maturation processes in action before finally finishing up the tour up with a tutored tasting session back in The Cellar Bar and a complimentary pint of Smithwick’s.

For our particular tasting session we were lucky enough to have Ian Hamilton, Operations Manager at St Francis Abbey Brewery, and Billy Power, Diageo Global Quality and Program Director, on hand to help us out. Basically we had the two single most qualified people possible to bring us through the subtlety and complexity that sits before you in a pint of Smithwick’s. To say we felt lucky is a complete understatement. Ian and Billy were full of craic and happy to answer any and all questions that our group had, from what Smithwick’s target customer is to what to look for in taste, aroma and appearance in a pint (see here).

Beyond the tour itself, the brewery also now offers visitors the chance to experience the story of the evolution of the St Francis Abbey Brewery. From the founding of the Abbey in the 13th century to the present, the story is brought to life through visuals, artefacts, pictures and audio in the new exhibition space. The exhibit covers the generations of the Smithwick’s family involved in the Brewery, the ingredients & brewing processes, the prestigious brewing awards won since 1892, and the advertising and packaging of Smithwick’s.

In short and without question, the latest addition to the rich cultural offering of Kilkenny is unmissable. This fully guided tour of the famous site, walking in and around the buildings and areas of the Brewhouse where Smithwick’s is actually brewed is absolutely fascinating. Smithwick’s have developed a really great attraction here and something that I would highly recommend to every visitor.

The Smithwick’s brewery tour takes approximately 1.5 hours, is fully guided and includes a complimentary drink in the Cellar Bar. Tours run from Tuesday to Saturday inclusive at 12:30, 13:00, 15:00 and 15:30 daily. The tour is closed on Sunday and Monday. Admission is €10 and all visitors must be over 18.

Competition: To celebrate the launch of the tour, Smithwick’s have given us a kit bag with umbrellas, Kartel Jacket, t-shirt, glasses, notebooks and a pair of tickets to the brewery. All you have to do to win is tell us: In which in which Irish city is the brewery located? The competition is now closed. Our winner was Amy Bennett. Congrats.

Booking Office: Call +353 (0)56 779 64 98.
E Mail: smithwickstours@diageo.com
Advance booking recommended.

Wheelchair Access:
St. Francis Abbey Brewery is a production facility. Therefore, we regret that we cannot cater for wheelchair users or persons with impaired mobility due to the structure and layout of our 300 year old site.

Footwear:
For your safety, please wear appropriate footwear (i.e. no high heels or open toe shoes).

Full details can be found at www.Smithwicks.ie

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About the Author

Helped to establish culch.ie way back in the before time. Interested in all things music, movies and games. Has a personal blog at http://www.anthonymcg.com



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