Google Sightseeing’s Brewery Tour
Wednesday, 19th January 2011 by Ian Brown
Some of our writers have been known to enjoy the occasional alcoholic beverage1, and the ongoing expansion of Street View means that we can (virtually) visit some of the world’s best breweries without having to worry about driving home. So pour a glass of your favourite beer and join us for Google Sightseeing’s first Brewery Tour!
Carlsberg Brewery, Copenhagen
To start, we visit the quite ornate Carlsberg Brewery in Copenhagen, Denmark2. The western gate tower is supported by four carved granite elephants, the symbol of the brewery. The Latin inscription above the gate means Let us work for our country.
Businessman J.C. Jacobson founded this brewery, which has become a major part of what is now a global brewing conglomerate. He named it after his son Carl, who – after a feud – started his own New Carlsberg company. Following the elder’s death the breweries merged under Carl’s leadership.
The elephants are each marked with an initial of one of Carl’s four children, as well as a swastika. This was originally seen as a symbol of luck based on its origin in eastern religions, though the brewery abandoned its use when it was adopted by the German Nazi party.
One thing I remember from my visit is that workers were allowed to help themselves to a beer any time during the day. They went on strike in 2010 when the company tried to regulate that consumption!
The eastern gate is also notable for the plaque describing Carl Jacobsen’s vision for the brewery, and the depictions of his family and important figures from the business. Learn more about this historic brewery at its official site.
St. James’s Gate Brewery, Ireland
Over to Ireland now, and one of the world’s best known brands – Guinness, and its original brewery St James’s Gate. The gate is marked ‘1759’ – the year Arthur Guinness first made beer here, and when he signed a 9,000 year lease!
Once the world’s largest brewery, the plant occupies a huge area south of the river Liffey. Along Crane Street we can find both an attractive brewery gate and a slogan painted by conceptual artist Lawrence Weiner.
At the heart of the factory is The Guinness Storehouse visitor centre3. While it’s difficult to get a clear view of it from Street View, it does have a new glass atrium designed to resemble a pint of their famous beer.
Weihenstephan Abbey, Germany
While Street View is available in some German cities, it has not yet made it to Freising in Bavaria, where the Weihenstephan Abbey claims to be the world’s oldest operating brewery.
While there are records of hops being used at the monastery as early as the 8th century, it was granted an official license in 1040, meaning it will celebrate its thousandth anniversary just 3 decades from now!
Abbaye Notre-Dame de Leffe, Belgium
A different group of monks created one of my personal favourite beers, Leffe. It’s no longer made at the Abbaye Notre-Dame de Leffe4 in Dinant, Belgium, though a revitalised religious community there does offer tours of the building, and there’s also a nearby museum.
Bragdy Gwynant, Wales
And finally, just to prove that size isn’t everything5, how about the world’s smallest brewery? The title is claimed by Bragdy Gwynant in Wales – basically a tiny shed where real ale is brewed for the Tynllidiart Arms pub next door!
We’d love to hear from our readers – post a comment with a link to the location of your personal favourite brewery or brewpub!
Which I have slightly fuzzy memories of visiting some years ago. ↩
Which I also have slightly fuzzy memories of visiting some years ago. ↩
It is instead created in a large industrial InBev facility, but it still tastes fantastic! ↩
You’ll note that I’m not including the world’s largest brewery in this post. ↩