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“Very enjoyable tour in Kilkenny”

Smithwick's Experience Kilkenny
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Smithwick's Experience Kilkenny Entrance Ticket
Ranked #2 of 75 things to do in Kilkenny
Certificate of Excellence
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Owner description: Located in the heart of Kilkenny city, Smithwick's Experience Kilkenny is a multi-sensory experience that immerses you in the history of Ireland's oldest ale. Get a flavour for how our famous ale has been crafted over generations and finish with a cool refreshing pint in the comfort of our Smithwick's Experience Bar. Audio guides also available in French, German, Spanish and Italian. Come to Kilkenny and discover the craft.
Reviewed 2 September 2013

Our family was very excited for this brewery tour as we love Smithwicks. The tour exceeded our expectations, as there was quite a bit of history in the abbey portion of the Brewery. The guide was knowledgeable, and answered questions very well. Quite funny when they give you a safety vest and goggles, which made our family very happy to be so kitted out. We booked months out before our trip, which we were glad that we did as many people lined up and were turned away while we were there. It is located in a central location in Kilkenny, easy to find, with an excellent Pub (Cleary's) just down the way where we had a very good lunch after. We enjoyed the tour, and are sad that they are closing down in a few months to move the plant up to Dublin. I would recommend the tour , if you can get it, before it closes down. Very well done.

1  Thank Travelingtheworld27
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 11 August 2013

One of my goals in Ireland was to tour Guinness and Jameson. These two tours seemed cliche to me, but also like a rite-of-passage for visiting Ireland for the first time. My wife mentioned going to Smithwick's while we passed through Kilkenny, and I'm very glad she did. This turned out to be the best brewery tour we went on Ireland. Here's why:

First off, Smithwick's has been brewing longer than Guinness. And the area in which it's brewed has been brewing beer in one way, shape, or form for longer than I thought beer existed (a time I'd never want to live in!). With that much history abounding, it's hard not to want to take in this tour. While you wait for your tour to start, you can walk around the simplistic reception area and read about the history of Smithwicks family and the heritage of brewing since the 1700s. The extremely informative tour guide will also rehash this history a bit and tie it together with some facts that don't quite fit on the boards in the reception area.

Secondly, you get to go walking in the ACTUAL, FUNCTIONING brewery. You even get to wear a stylish high-visibility vest and safety glasses to boot! This was a departure from Guinness and Jameson tours. Of course, at these two places you get to see how Guinness and Jameson started out back in the day, but I was really looking forward to seeing some real brewing/distilling operations as well. So when we got to see around the active brewery at Smithwick's, I was excited.

Ironically, the highlight for me at Smithwick's was touring the old Abbey that's right on the grounds of the active brewery. This is where monks probably brewed way back in the day. The tour guide will take you into the Abbey and show you some still-visible unique distinctions of this Abbey (such as the carvings holding up the pillars). After this, you commence with the modern brewing operation and techniques.

There's a cool point where you get to sit in the room where the brewers sample every stage of beer every day to make sure it meets their standard. In here, you get to see a short four-minute video that describes the basics of brewing--and even for me, who enjoys the art of brewing as much as the final product--there was still a lot to be learned from the short video.

The tour goes through the rest of the active facility and you get to see 90% of the brewing process actively. The tour guide does a phenomenal job explaining everything and is great at answering questions. I was very impressed with the level of knowledge the guide had.

At the end of the tour, you get to go to the old maturation cellar and have a delicious pint of Smithwick's. This is a welcome treat, of course, but it's also extremely cool to have a pint in such a historic room (the room itself is restored immaculately, but maintains a lot of the original feel that I'm sure the old cellar had back in the day).

A well-worth trip. If you want to see an active brew operation and learn a lot of history about this historical brewery, this trip is HIGHLY recommended. I'm saddened that the company that operates Smithwick's is moving it away, as it will probably take away the active brewery tour part (and a huge part of the town's history). However, there's enough history crammed into the tour that even after Smithwick's brewing is moved to Dublin, there'll be plenty to see and hear about. Get there before it changes for the unknown!

TIP: Call ahead to Smithwick's to reserve a spot on the tour because (as other reviewers have indicated), it fills up fast. We called months in advance to reserve a spot. You can't pay ahead of time, but you'll be guaranteed a spot and can pay on arrival. We saw many people turned away who tried to simply walk into a tour.

TIP: If you are going to Kilkenny and you're thinking of touring Smithwick's, do it NOW. After September of 2013, they'll no longer brew Smithwick's in Kilkenny! The brewery will be shuttered after that time. The older, historical buildings (including the Abbey) will remain, but the tour won't be the same!

TIP: If you need parking nearby, there's a parking ramp just across the street. Follow the blue P sign. It's a ramp that I believe is used for the shopping & market nearby, but there's no limitation on who can actually park there (there's not "CUSTOMERS ONLY" sign on the ramp).

TIP: Remember, it's pronounced "Smit-icks" and not "Smith wicks." :)

8  Thank fonixmunkee
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 6 August 2013

This was a great tour. We also did the Guinness tour, but this is more 'authentic'. A tasting follows. Our tourguide, a former long time employee was very informative and engaging. You could tell he really loved his Smithwick's and knew a lot about beer. Well worth a visit. One of the highlights of Kilkenny. We made a reservation early in the morning and had no issues.

The one downside is you cannot make online reservations, so unless you have a phone, I don't quite know how you would make a reservation as I also emailed the reservation contact address but never got a response.

Nonetheless, I would recommend.

2  Thank Travelbugg9
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 5 August 2013

I can see why this tour is so frequently full. We've been on the Guinness and Jameson tours, along with some foreign tours but this was head and shoulders above them. The chap giving the tour had worked in Smithwicks since the 70s and had a real deep and personal knowledge of the brewery, the history, and the beer. You wouldn't get that kind of passion anywhere else and it was infectious.
It's a rare treat that the tour takes place in a working brewery, and given that Smithwicks will soon be moving their operations people should take the opportunity to visit as soon as they can.
The pint at the end was pulled by the tour guide in a manner I've never seen Smithwicks pulled before, retaining the entire head above the glass. Drank in what used to be an cellar for storing the beer.

Can't recommend this tour highly enough, don't miss out.

Thank Patrick M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 2 August 2013

To be guided around a working brewery by a highly qualified and passionate brewer was unique and just fantastic. His passion for beer is contagious and culminated in the tasting room where he poured the perfect pint! Well worth it for the pouring alone. Since arriving in Ireland I have visited Guinness and Jamessons but this is by far the best.

Thank John H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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