The History of Guinness
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 favored 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
In spite of this and the poor quality of beer available in larger centers
like Dublin, it was recognized, 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 color. 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
revolutionized 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.