Smithwick’s Experience: Beer Tour in Kilkenny

Beer lovers organizing a road trip of Ireland should be sure to book the Smithwick’s Experience, ranked as one of the best things to do in Kilkenny.

The famous Irish brewery offers state-of-the-art beer tours and a well-stocked gift shop on Kilkenny’s famous Medieval Mile.

The Smithwick's Experience is located on Parliament Street in Kilkenny.
The Smithwick’s Experience is located on Parliament Street in Kilkenny.
The entrance to The Smithwick's Experience, Kilkenny's best brewery tour.
The entrance to The Smithwick’s Experience, Kilkenny’s best brewery tour.

History of Smithwick’s

In the 13th century, Irish monks settled at St. Francis Abbey. For more than 300 years the Abbey grew in size. However, the arrival of Henry VIII and the Reformation in 1537 meant that the Abbey was forced to close its doors.

When John Smithwick moved to Kilkenny in the 1700s the penal laws for Catholics were in full swing, meaning he couldn’t own property or run for elected office. Shortly after his arrival in Kilkenny, John went into the brewing business with Richard Cole on a piece of land that Cole had leased from the Duke of Ormond in 1705, who lived in Kilkenny Castle.

Smithwick spent decades keeping his business affairs private. Locals liked doing business with the mysterious Mr. Smithwick. His name had earned respect, although the laws still forbid him attaching it to anything. When penal laws were finally revoked in the late 1700’s the Smithwicks were finally free to take their rightful place in Kilkenny society.

Visitors wait for their Smithwick's Experience tour guide here.
Visitors wait for their Smithwick’s Experience tour guide here.
Review Kilkenny's brewing history while waiting for your Smithwick's Experience to begin.
Review Kilkenny’s brewing history while waiting for your Smithwick’s Experience to begin.

Edmond Smithwick finally got the Smithwick name over the brewery’s gate in 1827. Under Edmond’s leadership, trade skyrocketed in 10 years from 5,000 barrels to 40,000 barrels in 1860.

In 1892 Smithwick’s won 1st prize in Dublin’s Rotunda Exhibition of Brewers and Distillers, officially landing it on the Irish brewery map.

In 1930, Walter Smithwick marketed the brewery’s naturally-conditioned bottled ale as Smithwick’s No.1 and large slogans referring to it began to appear on buses, trams and in newspapers across Ireland.

The Smithwick's Experience begin's with a haunting monk hologram.
The Smithwick’s Experience starts with a haunting monk hologram.
Visitors learn about the Irish family who started the Kilkenny brewery.
Visitors learn about the Irish family who started the Kilkenny brewery.

Smithwick’s Experience Opens Its Doors

In August, 2014 the highly anticipated Smithwick’s Experience opened its doors in Kilkenny.

Located in the old Victorian brewing building on Parliament Street, the multi-sensory and interactive experience takes visitors on a journey through the medieval origins of brewing on the site of the St. Francis Abbey Brewery to the arrival of John Smithwick in the 1700’s, and right up to the present day.

Hop heads are fully immersed in the history of Smithwick’s, Ireland’s oldest beer brand, the fascinating heritage of the Smithwick’s family and its place in Kilkenny, a city steeped in ancient history and brewing tradition.


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Sit in a bathtub while talking portraits share the Irish brewery's unique history.
Sit in a comfy bathtub while hilarious talking portraits share the brewery’s unique history.
During the Smithwick's Experience visitors learn about the beer making process.
During the Smithwick’s Experience visitors learn about the beer making process.

“Smithwick’s Experience Kilkenny has been modelled on the Guinness Storehouse, Ireland’s number one international visitor attraction. It is an engaging experience that will provide an interactive way of understanding the amazing history of an iconic brand and its brewing credentials, said Mark McGovern, Manager, Smithwick’s Experience Kilkenny.

McGovern added, “Kilkenny and the surrounding area is already a wonderful, culturally rich tourist destination and we believe that the Smithwick’s Experience Kilkenny will further add to this.”


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Guests can take turns spinning malt into grist.
Guests can take turns spinning malt into grist.
Peak into a massive mash vessel to learn about the brewing process.
Peak into a massive mash vessel to learn about the brewing process.

Smithwick’s Experience Tour

Visitors enjoy an interactive tour that includes a life-size holographic monk which showcases the origins of brewing on the site together with living portraits of the key Smithwick’s family members.

During the tour, the Smithwick’s brewing process is brought to life, with visitors having the opportunity to experience the smells, tastes and textures of the raw materials involved in creating the perfect pint of Irish ale.

To avoid disappointment, we strongly suggest that you book your tour in advance. Especially during the busy tourist high season during the summer months. It’s easy to book your tickets online and you’ll enjoy a discount off all adult tickets with advanced bookings!

The Smithwick’s Experience Retail Store is the world’s only dedicated seller of Smithwick’s branded merchandise. Visitors can purchase an exclusive range of merchandise including customized and engraved Smithwick’s glasses, t-shirts and barware.


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The Smithwick's Experience offers guests an opportunity to sip and sample wort.
The Smithwick’s Experience offers guests an opportunity to sip and sample wort.
You'll find lots of Instagram-able moments during your brewery tour in Kilkenny.
You’ll find lots of Instagram-able moments during your brewery tour in Kilkenny.

Smithwick’s Experience Beer Tasting

Each Smithwick’s Brewery tour ends at a spacious beer bar featuring hardwood communal tables. The tour ticket includes a complimentary pint of Smithwick’s for all visitors over the age of 18. A soft drink is offered for visitors under 18.

Why not take advantage of the opportunity to taste all three of the Irish brewery’s ales at the end of your Smithwick’s Experience Tour? If you’d like to taste three of our most popular variants, Smithwick’s Red Ale, Smithwick’s Pale Ale, and Smithwick’s Atlantic Blonde Ale, you can upgrade your ticket to include a tasting paddle at the end of your tour for just €3. Friendly bartenders are happy to walk visitors through the uniqueness of each of Irish ale, or grab a seat and sip in solitude.

If you’re feeling peckish and need a nibble to compliment your sud-sloshing, a selection of fresh pretzels and chips are available at the bar.

  • Smithwick’s Red Ale: The Irish beer’s distinctive ruby red colour makes it unmistakably Smithwick’s. A blend of mild hops, sweet malt, and roasted barley. ABV 3.8%
  • Smithwick’s Pale Ale: Deeply golden in colour, the award winning Smithwick’s Pale Ale is inspired by old recipes from Kilkenny’s historical brewery. This golden malt beer is fruity, and grassy, brewed with aromatic Amarillo hops. ABV 4.5%
  • Smithwick’s Atlantic Blonde: Crisp, clean, and citrusy, Smithwick’s Atlantic Blonde Ale is a great thirst quencher. Its golden colour pairs with a perfectly balanced blend of Polaris hops, citrus aromas and malty flavour. ABV 4.1%
Each Smithwick's Experience Tour ends with a free pint in a spacious beer bar.
Each Smithwick’s Experience Tour ends with a free pint in a spacious beer bar.
We suggest sampling a paddle of three ale's at the Smithwick's Experience Bar.
We suggest sampling a paddle of three ale’s at the Smithwick’s Experience Bar.

Gift Shop

The Smithwick’s Experience Retail Store is the world’s only dedicated seller of Smithwick’s branded merchandise. Visitors can purchase an exclusive range of merchandise including customized and engraved Smithwick’s glasses, t-shirts and barware.


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Irish beer lovers can shop for great gifts at the Smithwick's Experience retail store.
Irish beer lovers can shop for great gifts at the Smithwick’s Experience retail store.

Smithwick’s Experience Reservations

44 Parliament Street, 353-56-778-6377

Open from 10am-6pm daily.

Smithwick’s Experience Prices and Times

French, German, Spanish and Italian speaking visitors are offered an audio guide to take them through the Smithwick’s Experience tour, which lasts approximately 70 minutes.

Adults in person €16, online €14

Seniors (65+) €14

Students (under 18) €10

Students (over 18) €14

Family (2 adults, 3 children) €40

July and August 
Every 20 minutes, 10.00am – 5.00pm

March to June and September – October 
Every 30 minutes, 11.00am – 5.00pm

November – February 
On the hour, 11.00am – 4.00pm

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