Lucky me. Last night Diageo threw open the doors of its soon –to-open €168m brew house at St James Gate in Dublin. Once up and running the new facility, which looks more like a futuristic space station than a brewery, will produce something like a billion pints of Guinness a year. Sadly, the company would not allow me to take pictures inside the building but believe me it’s HUGE. Guinness plans to centralize its countrywide production of beer into a single facility – allowing the company to close four antiquated breweries. The high tech brew house will also produce Diageo’s other beer brands such as Harp Lager, Kilkenny and Smithwick’s – the first time pale and dark beers have been produced in the same Dublin facility. Diageo also produces massive quantities of Budweiser and Carlsberg under long standing license arrangements. Guinness master brewer Fergal Murray says that this is only the fourth brew house in the history of the company which was founded in 1759. “I’ve worked in the last two,” he explained. “But naturally I wasn’t around when the first one closed.” The Guinness site covers 50 acres and is so enormous that a special tunnel (pictured) had to be constructed so that employees could walk from one side of the plant to the other. Despite the high tech nature of the new plant, Fergal still describes Guinness as a craft brewer. “For the first 100 years we brewed under candlelight,” he said. “That was simply because we didn’t have access to electricity.” Maintaining this sense of heritage is important to Guinness and evident everywhere – not least at the famous visitor centre which last year attracted 1.1m people, making it Ireland’s top tourist attraction. Our visit to St James Gate finished with a hosted dinner in the Gravity Bar. This is without doubt one of the world’s great beer experiences. If you’ve never been, book your flight to Ireland now.