February 6, 2007


And the man behind the brand is...
Arthur Guinness

In 1722 a new, dark beer brewed with roasted barley began appearing in pubs around London. It was a heavy, sweet ale and was quickly popular among the laboring classes, particularly porters, hence its name. When 31-year old Arthur Guinness joined the ranks of Irishmen brewing beer in 1756 he wasn’t particuarly interested in dark beers.

He leased a brewery in Liexlip, just west of Dublin. The ambitious Guinness sold his brew locally but was thwarted in his attempts to sell his beer abroad by Ireland’s restrictive export tariffs on beer. He search across the Irish Sea in Wales but found no suitable existing brewery. Meanwhile Irish brewers were being squeezed out by English imports flooding the island under favorable English tax laws. There were some 70 breweries in Ireland when Arthur Guinness starting working in brewhouses in his late teens. Fewer than half that number were now operating.

Returning to Ireland Guinness settled just outside the walled city of Dublin in a small ale brewery at St. Jame’s Gate. He leased the brewery on December 31, 1759 for an extremely reasonable rate: “a dwelling house, a brewhouse, two malt houses, and stables” for 45 pounds sterling each year. The lease was to be honored for 9,000 years. The document was still in force more than two centuries later.

There had been a brewery on the site at least as far back as 1693. It lay on the main road to Dublin from the corn-growing districts of central Ireland and water from the river Poddle coursed through the property. For his first twenty years Guinness brewed ale and table-beer, all the while railing against the unfair trade situation with England. In 1777, partly assisted by testimony from Guinness, the Irish House of Commons repealed many of the restrictive regulations.

In 1778 Arthur Guinness brewed his first porter. By 1799, only four years before his death at the age of 78, Guinness was selling only porter. The St. James Gate brewery would grow to be the world’s largest without ever advertising, greatly assisted by thousands of physicians’ testimonials about the benefits of Guinness: as a cure for insomnia, debility, constipation, digestive disorders, nervousness and even as an aid to nursing mothers.

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