The Smithwick’s Experience: a top tour for all beer enthusiasts! (our review)

Smithwick’s has been brewed in Ireland since 1710 and is still one of the best Irish beers to try in 2023. The Smithwick’s Experience in Kilkenny is the site of the original brewery and former residence of the Smithwick family.

The site operated as a brewery until it transformed into a visitor experience in 2014. Since then, it has been offering tours to the public and has picked up numerous awards.

Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Smithwick’s Experience had to close its doors for one year.

This was a massive blow to tourism in Kilkenny as this place is one of the top attractions to visit. Thankfully, it has now fully re-opened, and we were excited to visit!

Our visit – starting with the history of Ireland’s most famous ale

The Smithwick's Experience.

After getting our tickets, we joined a group tour led by local Smithwick’s expert Joe who was very knowledgeable.

We learned that the brewery is on the site of a Franciscan abbey, where monks had brewed ale since the 14th century.

After this, we visited the area where the Smithwick family used to reside and learned all about the great work they did for Kilkenny and the struggles they endured to stay in business over the centuries.

Our guide.

We learned that Edmond Smithwick made one of the most significant contributions to Smithwick’s as well as the development of Kilkenny (he was elected mayor of Kilkenny four times).

Under Edmond’s leadership, sales of the Red Ale increased enormously in a decade from 5,000 barrels to over 40,000!  

When The Great Hunger hit Ireland, Edmond and rival brewers put competition aside to set up a soup kitchen that would feed the starving people in the local area.

Edmond’s sons followed him into the business, and the Smithwick’s have survived until today.

Production & tasting – learn the fundamentals of beer production

Production and tasting at The Smithwick's Experience.

After learning of the fascinating history of Smithwick’s, it was then on to learn about the fundamentals of beer production, which was interesting.

We learned of the ingredients used to make Smithwick’s, along with how the red ale is produced and the different machines that it goes through.

At each stage, the group was offered to participate and be part of the experience. Next, it was smelling the different scents of Smithwick’s.

We learned that Smithwick’s Red Ale combines mild hops, sweet malt, and roasted barley. The subtle bitterness of the hops is perfectly complemented by the sweet, malty notes.

The tasting room – sampling the best pint of Smithwicks you’ll ever have

The tasting room.

Finally, the best part of the tour was the tasting room. The bar had a selection of many beers (it caters for more than just Smithwick’s and beer), but we weren’t coming here without having a Smithwick’s.

After ordering my ale, the barman poured me the perfect pint. As you would expect, the guys here ensure the standard is the highest, and indeed, it was the best pint of Smitchwick’s I’ve ever had.

While having my pint, I reflected on all the brewery and beer tours I’d been on. I have to admit; this was up there with the best!

Booking – how you can book your trip to Kilkenny’s top attraction

How to book the Smithwick's experience.

If you are planning a trip to the Smithwick’s Experience, it is advised to book in advance online to avoid disappointment. The best place to secure it is on the official website here.

Adult admission prices start at €18.00 and include a pint of Smithwick’s. For an extra €4, you can upgrade your ticket and replace your pint of Smithwick’s Red Ale with a tasting paddle of two Smithwick’s ales and Kilkenny beer.

I’d highly recommend it as the beers were fantastic. The Smithwick’s Experience is only 90 minutes from Dublin, so make sure you make a trip next time you’re in the area!

Address: 44 Parliament St, Gardens, Kilkenny, R95 VK54, Ireland

This review was commissioned by Smithwicks

For transparency, we must state that this review was commissioned by Smithwicks. Although we were paid to review this attraction, this review is our honest opinion.

If you’d like us to review your business or you would like to enquire about any of our services, please visit our business page.

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