Happy St. Pat’s! The Guinness story pt.1Locked
On the last day of December 1759 a determined young man named Arthur Guinness rode through the gate of an old, dilapidated and ill-equipped brewery sited on a small strip of land on Dublin’s James’s Street. He had just signed a lease on the property for 9,000 years at ?45 per annum. His friends shook their heads in disbelief. For ten years, Mark Rainsford’s Ale Brewery (for such it was) had been on the Market and nobody had shown any interest in it. The Street was already festooned with similar small breweries, all attracted to this spot by a good supply of water.
Throughout the city of Dublin there were about 70 breweries at that time, all, it must be assumed, small. Mr. Guinness’s newly acquired brewery was no more than average. But Arthur was about to change all of that. He was 34 years old. He knew that the products of this teeming, almost domestic, industry were highly unsatisfactory.
Trade fell off badly when import regulations which favoured the London Porter breweries, were prolonged. At that time, beer was almost unknown in rural Ireland where whiskey, gin and poteen were the alcoholic drinks most readily available.
In spite of this and the poor quality of beer available in larger centers like Dublin, it was recognised, paradoxically, that brewing – although constantly under threat from imports – was probably the most prosperous of the very few industries in Ireland at that time. In addition to ales, Arthur Guinness brewed a beer relatively new to Ireland that contained roasted barley which gave it a characteristically dark colour. This brew became known as “porter” so named because of its popularity with the porters and stevedores of Covent Garden and Billingsgate in London. “Porter” had been developed in London some years earlier and was imported into Dublin to the detriment of local brews. Arthur Guinness finally had to choose between porter or the traditional Dublin Ales.
Deciding to tackle the English at their own game, Arthur tried his hand at porter. He brewed the deep, rich beverage so well that he eventually ousted all imports from the Irish market, captured a share of the English trade and revolutionised the brewing industry.
The word Stout was added in the early 1820’s as an adjective, qualifying the noun “porter”. An “extra stout porter” was a stronger and more full bodied variety. “Stout” evolved as a noun in its own right, as did the family name of Guinness. In 1825 GUINNESS Stout was available abroad and by 1838, GUINNESS St. James’s Gate Brewery was the largest in Ireland. In 1881, the annual production of GUINNESS brewed had surpassed one million barrels a year and by 1914, St. James’s Gate was the worlds largest brewery.
Today, Arthur Guinness would have been proud of St. James’s Gate. No longer the largest (although still the largest Stout brewery) it is certainly one of the most modern breweries. GUINNESS is now also brewed in 35 other countries around the world, but all these overseas brews must contain a flavoured extract brewed at St. James’s Gate. So the very special brewing skills of Arthur’s brewery, remain at the heart of every one of the 10 million pints of GUINNESS enjoyed every day across the world.