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This article is about the brewery. See also Guinness Book of Records.
Arthur Guinness Son & Co.
Location Dublin, Ireland
Opened 1756
Annual production volume 26 million gallons
Owned by Diageo
Active beers
Name Type
Guinness Draught Stout
Guinness Extra Stout Stout
Guinness Original Stout
Harp Lager Lager
Smithwick's Ale
Cashels Cider

Arthur Guinness Son & Co. is a brewery founded in 1756 by Arthur Guinness in Dublin, Ireland.

The brewery's most famous product is a dark stout beer (a type of porter), known widely as Guinness. Although commonly believed to have originated the stout style of beer, the first use of the word stout in relation to beer was in a letter in the Egerton Manuscript dated 1677, almost 50 years before Arthur Guinness was born.


Guinness stout is made from four natural ingredients: water, barley, hops and yeast. As with most beer, the majority of the barley is malted, but some is flaked (i.e. steamed and rolled) and a significant proportion is roasted to give Guinness its dark colour and characteristic taste. Despite the "meal in a glass" or "liquid bread" reputation the beverage has among some non-Guinness drinkers, Guinness only contains 198 calories (838 kilojoules) per imperial pint (1460 kJ/L), less than an equal-sized serving of skimmed milk or orange juice. Despite its appearance as a dark and over-powering stout beer, Guinness is actually quite tame and mellow for a stout, and can be enjoyed with most food. Many stout beer aficionados claim it is watery compared to other, more malty stout brews.

Draught Guinness and its canned namesake contain nitrogen (N2) as well as carbon dioxide (CO2). Unlike carbon dioxide, nitrogen does not dissolve in water, which allows the beer to be put under high pressure without making it fizzy. The high pressure is required to force the draught beer through fine holes in a plate in the tap, which causes the characteristic "surge" (the widget in cans and bottles achieves the same effect). The perceived smoothness of draught Guinness is due to the low acidity and the creaminess of the head caused by the surging. "Original Extra Stout" tastes quite different; it contains only CO2, making a more acidic taste.

Contemporary Guinness Draught and Extra Stout are much weaker than they were in the 19th century, when they had an original gravity of over 1070. Foreign Extra Stout and Special Export Stout, with ABV over 7%, are perhaps closest to the original in character[1].

Pouring and serving[edit]

A "perfectly poured" Guinness pint with some brown bread.

Draught Guinness is considered at its best flavour when served cool, although not necessarily cold. It should be poured slowly at a 45° angle; about three quarters is poured and left to settle before the rest is added. The tap handle should be pushed forward, rather than pulled, when the beer is topped off. This creates the characteristic creamy head that lasts until the last sip. The perfect pint should have a head just proud of the rim of the glass, and no overspill. Recent advertising campaigns state that "it takes 119.6 seconds to pour the perfect pint" of Guinness. While this method of pouring (slow) is done in Ireland and the UK, many American bars (not all) seem to ignore the requisite 'slow pour'.

Some bartenders also draw a simple design in the head during the slow pour. Shamrocks and harps are quite popular designs for this.

It is a common myth that Guinness is brewed using water from the River Liffey, which flows through Dublin close to St James's Gate. It actually comes from the Wicklow Mountains, specifically, Lady's Well.

Sinking bubbles[edit]

A long time subject of bar conversations has been the observation that gas bubbles travel downwards in a pint glass of Guinness. [2], [3]

The effect is attributed to drag; bubbles which touch the walls of a glass are slowed in their upwards travel. Bubbles in the centre of the glass are, however, free to rise to the surface, and form a rising column of bubbles. The rising bubbles create a current by the entrainment of the surrounding fluid. As beer rises in the center, the beer near the outside of the glass falls. This downward flow pushes the bubbles near the glass towards the bottom. Although the effect occurs in any liquid, it is particularly noticeable in any dark nitrogen stout, as the drink combines dark-coloured liquid and light-coloured bubbles.


Guinness Original/Extra Stout

Guinness is available in a number of variants and strengths, which include:

  • Guinness draught stout, sold in kegs—4.1 to 4.3% alcohol by volume (abv);
  • Extra Cold draught stout, sold in kegs and put through a super cooler—4.1 to 4.3% abv;
  • Bottled Guinness draught, which includes a patented "rocket widget" to simulate the draught taste—4.1 to 4.3% abv;
  • Canned Guinness draught, which includes a similar but differently shaped widget—4.1 to 4.3% abv;
  • Guinness Original/Extra Stout, as near to Arthur Guinness's original porter as can be obtained today—4.2 or 4.3% abv (Ireland, UK), 5% abv (Canada, mainland Europe), and 6% abv (United States, Australia, Japan);
  • Guinness Foreign Extra Stout, sold in Ireland, West Africa, the Caribbean and Asia—5% abv (China), 6.5% abv (Jamaica), 7.5% abv (Ireland, Africa) and 8% abv (Malaysia), blended with a small amount of intentionally soured beer to balance the flavour;[4]
  • Guinness Foreign Extra Stout Nigeria, uses sorghum in the brewing process instead of barley—sold in Nigeria and Great Britain—7.5% abv;
  • Guinness Special Export Stout, sold in Belgium—8% abv;
  • Guinness Bitter, an English-style bitter beer—4.4% abv;
  • Guinness Extra Smooth, a smoother stout sold in Ghana, Cameroon and Nigeria—5.5% abv;
  • Malta Guinness, a non-alcoholic sweet drink, sold in Africa;
  • Guinness Mid-Strength, a low-alcohol stout being test-marketed in Limerick, Ireland from March 2006—2.8% abv. [5]

The Guinness brewery also makes other brands of alcoholic drinks, including Harp, Smithwick's and Kilkenny. The company has a regional franchise (for Ireland) to produce Budweiser beer, as well as Carlsberg lager.

Guinness original widget

In October 2005, Guinness introduced the Brewhouse Series — a limited-edition collection of draft stouts that will be available for six months each. The first stout in the series is Brew 39, which is being released in Dublin from Fall 2005 through Spring 2006. It has the same alcohol content (abv) as Guinness Draught, uses the same gas mix and settles in the same way, but has a slightly different taste. Other variants will be on tap across Ireland.

In March 2006, Guinness introduced "the surger" in Great Britain. The surger is a plate-like electrical device meant for the home. It sends ultrasonic waves through a Guinness-filled pint glass to recreate the beer's famous "surge and settle" effect. The device works in conjunction with special cans of surger-ready Guinness. Guinness had tested the surger since 2003 in Japanese bars, most of which are too small to accommodate traditional keg-and-tap systems.

Withdrawn Guinness variants include Guinness's Brite Lager, Guinness's Brite Ale, Guinness Light, Guinness XXX Extra Strong Stout, Guinness Cream Stout, Guinness Gold, Guinness Pilsner and Guinness Special Light. Other withdrawn beers produced by Guinness include Enigma Draught Lager and Breo White Beer,[6] as well as the St. James's Gate Beers: Pilsner Gold, Wicked Red Ale, Wildcat Wheat Beer and Dark Angel Lager.

A brewing byproduct of Guinness, Guinness Yeast Extract (GYE), was produced until the 1950s.



Kaliber, a brand of non-alcoholic lager which is popular in the United Kingdom, was launched in 1987.

It is made from hops, malted barley, sucrose and yeast along with stabilisers and CO2. The alcohol is removed by vacuum evaporation at the end of the brewing process to make it a fuller tasting beer according to the brewer.

Even though it is classed as an alcohol free beverage it still contains trace amount of alcohol, around 0.05% to be exact. This amount of alcohol is naturally occurring and cannot be removed, and this same amount is also found in fruit juices.


Guinness has a long history of marketing campaigns, from award-winning television commercials to beer mats and posters.

Nigeria is the third largest and fastest-growing Guinness market in the world. However, as the cultivation of barley is restricted in Nigeria, the local version is made primarily from sorghum.


Guinness uses the harp of Brian Boru, or Trinity College Harp as their trademark. This circa 14th century harp which is still visible at Trinity College, Dublin has been used as a symbol of Ireland since the reign of Henry VIII (16th century). Guinness adopted the harp as a logo in 1862, however it is shown in a form that faces left instead of right as in the coat of arms.

One of the more famous advertising posters from the Gilroy Era of the 40's
World War II era Guinness advertising poster.

Guinness's iconic stature can be attributed in part to its advertising. The most notable and recognisable series of adverts was created by Benson's advertising, primarily John Gilroy, in the 1930s and 40s. Gilroy was responsible for creating posters which included such phrases such as "Guinness for Strength", "Lovely Day for a Guinness", "Guinness Makes You Strong" "My Goodness My Guinness" and most famously, "Guinness is Good For You". The posters featured Gilroy's distinctive artwork and more often than not featured animals such as a kangaroo, ostrich, seal, lion, and notably a toucan, which has become as much a symbol of Guinness as the harp. (An advertisement from the 1940s ran with the following jingle: Toucans in their tests agree/Guinness is good for you./Try some today and see/What one or toucan do.) Guinness has recently taken the dominant share in the African beer market with its Michael Power advertising campaign. Guinness advertising paraphernalia attracts high prices on the collectible market.

In 2000, Guinness's 1999 advert Surfer was named the best television commercial of all time in a UK poll conducted by The Sunday Times and Channel 4. Surfer was produced by the advertising agency Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO; the advertisement can be downloaded from their website.[7]

Guinness was awarded the 2001 Clio Award as the Advertiser of the Year, citing the work of five separate ad agencies around the world.[8]


During Saint Patrick's Day, Guinness merchandise is available in many places that sell the drink. This includes clothing and hats, often available from behind the bar after a specific number of pints of Guinness have been purchased.

Guinness fans can visit the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin, which has been described as Disneyland for the beer (or, perhaps, more accurately, stout) lover. Located on the site of the St. James's Gate brewery, the Storehouse is an interactive, multimedia experience taking you through all things Guinness.

History of ownership[edit]

The grandson of the original Arthur Guinness, Sir Benjamin Guinness, was Lord Mayor of Dublin and was created a baronet in 1867, only to die the next year. His eldest son Arthur, Baron Ardilaun (18401915), sold control of the brewery to Sir Benjamin's third son Edward (18471927), who became 1st Earl of Iveagh. He, his son and great-grandson, the 2nd and 3rd Earls, chaired the Guinness company into the 1980s, at which time non-family chief executive Ernest Saunders became chairman as part of the merger with leading Scotch whisky producer Distillers. After Saunders was forced out following revelations that the Guinness stock price had been illegally manipulated (see Guinness share-trading fraud), the family presence on the board declined rapidly, and today no member of the Guinness family sits on the board of the holding company Diageo PLC.

Book of Records[edit]

The Guinness company also produced the Guinness Book of Records, which originated in 1955 when a debate in a pub after a hunt could not be settled with existing reference books. After merger with the firms of Arthur Bell and United Distillers, the firm became Guinness PLC, and was no longer headed by a family member. It combined with Grand Metropolitan to form Diageo PLC in 1997, at which point the Book of Records was sold to Gullane Entertainment, who in turn were purchased in 2002 by the book's current publishers, HIT Entertainment.

The Lions Gate Bridge[edit]

The Guinness Family built the Lions Gate Bridge in Vancouver (or more accurately paid for its construction) which connects Vancouver to North Vancouver and West Vancouver over Burrard Inlet. The Guinness family sold the bridge to the province of British Columbia for over 6 million dollars in 1955.

The Guinnesses wanted a bridge to join downtown Vancouver to a remote area of West Vancouver where they were building a high scale housing development "The British Properties". The Guinesses wanted a 4 lane suspension bridge and the government wanted a 2 lane. A three lane bridge was built. Tolls were at one end of the bridge and they were removed once the bridge was paid for. The British Properties were laid out with large lots, underground electrical, and building guidelines. Property was put aside as common area, room for a polo field, schools, a country club and a small sales office was placed at the first roundabout at the divided boulevard.


Among the Cantonese-speaking Chinese locals in Singapore and Malaysia, Guinness Stout is known as "Hak Gau Peh", literally means "Black Dog Beer". This is because somehow, only the elder generation prefers Guinness Stout. And these senior citizens survived through the tougher days, where education was less important. Illiteracy rate was high, and these people do not know how to pronounce "Guinness Stout" while ordering it. Incidentally, Guinness advertisement posters were always associating a black bulldog with the stouts. So these people simply say "Black Dog Beer" in Cantonese while ordering it. This has become a household name, at least among the men over the period.

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Patrick Lynch and John Vaizey - Guinness's Brewery in the Irish Economy: 1759-1876 (1960) Cambridge University Press
  • Frederic Mullally - The Silver Salver: The Story of the Guinness Family (1981) Granada, ISBN 0246112719
  • Brian Sibley - The Book Of Guinness Advertising (1985) Guinness Books, ISBN 0851124003
  • Peter Pugh - Is Guinness Good for You: The Bid for Distillers – The Inside Story (1987) Financial Training Publications, ISBN 1851850740
  • Edward Guinness - The Guinness Book of Guinness (1988) Guinness Books
  • Michele Guinness - The Guinness Legend: The Changing Fortunes of a Great Family (1988) Hodder and Stoughton General Division, ISBN 0340430451
  • Jonathan Guinness - Requiem for a Family Business (1997) Macmillan Publishing, ISBN 0333661915
  • Derek Wilson - Dark and Light: The Story of the Guinness Family (1998) George Weidenfeld & Nicholson, Ltd., ISBN 0297817183
  • S.R. Dennison and Oliver MacDonagh - Guinness 1886-1939: From Incorporation to the Second World War (1998) Cork University Press, ISBN 1859181759
  • Jim Davies - The Book of Guinness Advertising (1998) Guinness Media Inc., ISBN 0851120679
  • Al Byrne - Guinness Times: My Days in the World’s Most Famous Brewery (1999) Town House, ISBN 1860591051
  • Michele Guinness - The Guinness Spirit: Brewers, Bankers, Ministers and Missionaries (1999) Hodder and Stoughton, ISBN 0340721650
  • Mark Griffiths - Guinness is Guinness: The Colourful Story of a Black and White Brand (2004) Cyan Communications, ISBN 0954282949
  • Tony Corcoran - The Goodness of Guinness: The Brewery, Its People and the City of Dublin (2005) Liberties Press, ISBN 0954533577


  1. ^ Ron Pattinson's The Breweries of Ireland
  2. ^ Guinness Bubbles FAQ
  3. ^ BBC article on discovery of the scientific explanation for the sinking bubbles
  4. ^ Formerly it was blended with beer that soured naturally as a result of fermenting in ancient oak tuns with a Brettanomyces population (see e.g. Protz,R.,The Ale Trail,Eric Dobby Publishing, Kent, 1995. pp174-6.), now with pasteurised beer that has been soured bacterially. (See e.g. [9])
  5. ^ Test marketed low alcohol Guinness Stout.
  6. ^ Breo withdrawn
  7. ^ Award winning "Surfer" Advert
  8. ^ Clio Award Press Release

External links[edit]