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Guinness – the Irish drink that conquered the world

The dry stout Guinness is probably the most famous of all the Irish drinks. It is enjoyed throughout the world and is even seen as symbolic of Ireland.

Guinness. Image copyright Ireland Calling

The fact that a ‘perfect pint’ must be poured in stages, and adverts tell us that it must be left to settle for 119.5 seconds before the final drops are poured, gives Guinness a nice aura of Irish mystique. While the advert may have been tongue-in-cheek in advising such a precise amount of time, there is no doubt that Guinness is at its best when left to settle.

It is certainly poured with more care than many other drinks and has an attractive and iconic look. While it is an acquired taste, once people have got used to the flavour they often become lifelong fans.

Arthur Guinness signed a 9,000 year lease at St James Gate Brewery in 1759. His company brewed ales including stout and porter. In 1799, Guinness ceased production on Dublin ale range and focused solely on the more popular porter. Two years later the first West India Porter was brewed. This is a direct ancestor of the drink we know today.

Black Velvet

In 1821, the drink was further developed by Guinness’ son Arthur Guinness II. The brewery followed precise instructions from Arthur Jr for an Extra Superior Porter.

The 1860s saw a few new developments for Guinness. They began exporting to South East Asia often using an animal as a logo, which helped sales in that part of the world. Back in the West, Guinness used the Harp logo for the first time in 1862.

A year earlier a spin-off drink, Black Velvet, was invented in London. The story goes that following the death of Prince Albert, a bar steward at London Gentleman’s club Brooks decided that even the champagne should be in mourning and added Guinness to the glasses. The drink became known as Black Velvet and remains popular today.

Guinness adverts

In the 19th century, Guinness rarely advertised. Instead the strength of their brand and product was enough to keep the company among the top three brewers in the Irish and British isles.

By the time of the First World War, Guinness had become one of the biggest brewers in the world. It had thousands of employees and produced over 2.5 million barrels per year.

Guinness began producing adverts in the in the late 1920s. In 1929 the famous ‘Guinness is good for you’ campaign was launched in the British press. Over the decades Guinness has become renowned for creating some of the most memorable adverts of any given era. Famous advertising campaigns include ‘Pure Guinness’ in the 1980s, ‘Not Everything in Black and White Makes Sense’ in the 1990s, ‘Good things come to those who wait’ in the late 1990s and ‘Made of More’ in the 2010s.

The Power of Guinness. Image copyright Ireland Calling

It has also sponsored major international sporting competitions such as the 6 English rugby Premier League and the 6 Nations.

The Guinness storehouse in Dublin is the most visited tourist attraction in the country, such is the power of the connection between Guinness and Ireland.
Guinness isn’t just a drink, people in Ireland also use it as an ingredient for food recipes including Guinness stew.

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