Smithwick's Experience Kilkenny
The Exterior of the Smithwick's Experience
|Established||Brewery: 1706, Current Brewery Tour: 2014|
|Location||44 Parliament St, Kilkenny, Ireland|
The Smithwick's Experience Kilkenny is the original site where Smithwick's was brewed from the 1700s until 2014. Previously, the site was owned by Franciscan monks who also brewed beer before they were dissolved during the Reformation in 1537. The site is now a brewery tour that includes tastings, visual effects including holograms, and a gift shop. The brewery tour is laid out over two floors and sits on the original abbey foundations.
Recognised as one of Ireland’s oldest breweries, the site originated as a notable Franciscan monastery called St. Francis Abbey. In fact, during the expansion of Smithwicks Brewery in 1854, the nave and chancel of the abbey were discovered within the grounds of the brewery. The sacristy has been restored as an oratory at the brewery. The well was dedicated to St Francis and long held in great veneration, is located about 45 metres to the northeast of the friary and is now underneath one of the brewery buildings. The Abbey and brewery closed after 300 years due to the Reformation in Ireland in 1537. Many years later in 1705, the land was leased to John Smithwick and Richard Cole, who started a brewing business. The land at that time was owned by the Duke of Ormond. In 1710, John Smithwick became the owner, but this was not publicly known because according to the penal laws, as a Catholic, Smithwick was not allowed to own property. Penal laws were revoked in 1782, allowing the Smithwick family to publicly claim ownership.
Many years later, John Smithwick's grandson Edmond Smithwick picked up the business. The brewery stayed entirely in the Smithwicks family until 1964, when Guinness and Company (Diageo) bought a controlling share of the brewery.
The site operated as a brewery until December 2013, when all brewing was moved to St James's Gate in Dublin to centralise Diageo's brewing efforts. The site reopened as an attraction in late July 2014.
The tour involves all the senses. Those who take the tour can smell the hops, taste fresh wort, feel the temperature of roasted barley, see a seven foot high hologram monk, hear the sounds of monastery halls, and taste a pint of Smithwick's at the end of the tour.
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