December 31st – Guinness is brewed for the first time

A typical 1930s poster for Guinness

A typical 1930s poster for Guinness

On this day in 1759, Guinness beer was first produced at the St. James Gate Brewery in Dublin, Ireland. Arthur Guinness signed a 9000 year lease on the brewery at £45 a year, and to this day, Guinness beer still calls St. James Gate Brewery home.

It would be almost a century after the first Guinness was brewed that the beer gained international renown. As one of the three largest brewers in the United Kingdom (at that time Ireland was still part of the British Crown), sales more than doubled from 350000 barrels in 1868 to 779000 barrels in 1876. By 1886, sales reached 1138000 barrels. In the 1930s, Guinness was the 7th largest company in the world.

Here are some fun facts about Guinness beer to ponder on this New Year’s Eve:

  • Almost 850 million litres of Guinness are sold every year.
  • While Guinness is often thought of as being black, it is in fact a very dark shade of ruby red.
  • According to Guinness, a proper pint of the beer should take 199.5 seconds to pour. This amount of time is a result of first pouring the beer at a 45º angle, followed by a rest. After the rest (long enough that the liquid appears pure black), the rest of the glass is filled, again at 45º.
  • Though often depicted as a heavy, high calorie beverage, Guinness is in fact relatively low in calories. A pint of Guinness contains 198 calories, less than most light beers, wine, orange juice, and low fat milk.
  • The famous 1930s posters (see above) featuring exotic animals and purporting the health benefits of Guinness are still used around the world. Guinness however no longer claims drinking their beer is of any medical benefit.
  • Guinness own five breweries: one in Dublin, one in Malaysia, and three in Africa: Nigeria, Ghana & Cameroon. Interestingly, 40% of all Guinness sold in the world is sold in Africa.
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