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Guinness: A Draught Dynasty

Course Specific
Jul 25
2.5 mins

Nestled in the heart of Dublin, a few minutes walk from the river Liffey, you will find a cobblestone lane leading to a large black gate. A harp sits above the now famous name written in white across the wooden panels:


A lot has changed since Arthur Guinness signed his 9000 year lease at the Saint James's Gate Brewery in 1759. But when you look down this lane you can almost get a taste of 18th century Dublin - and forget the enormous chrome brewing vats, exhaust columns and fleet of branded lorries just out of sight.

In a country where alcohol has rightly or wrongly become part of the national identity, the Guinness brand has almost taken on the role as unofficial sponsor of Ireland around the world. The black stuff has been the country's most popular drink for decades, and is one of the most recognisable brands in the world - but is every pint equal?

Well if the purists are to be believed, you haven't tried Guinness until you've tried it in Dublin, but even with a subpar pint you can still get a little of the magic of St James's Gate with that first sip...

Creamy, tangy and malty with notes of coffee, chocolate and even... iron, Guinness is somewhat of an oddity amongst the lineup of mass produced lagers and IPA's you will see at a typical pub or bar.

It is categorised as a stout - a style of beer that gains its signature dark colour and texture from the process of roasting the barley that is brewed. But this doesn't explain why Guinness is often the only stout you are likely to see on tap at your local - what made Guinness the stout?

Keen Guinness drinkers will tell you it is the addition of malted barley, giving the beer its signature tang, but Diageo have neither confirmed nor denied this trade secret...

Another possibility is an ingredient that was added surprisingly late in the history of Guinness, but probably had the biggest impact out of any. In 1959, Guinness became the first Nitrogenated beer in the world when a mathematician named Michael Ash engineered a way of dissolving the gas with CO2 into the black stuff.

The resulting mix created a smooth texture and thicker head, formed of bubbles far smaller than your standard carbonated beer. So essentially no Nitrogen, no iconic Guinness foam.

These incremental changes to the make up of the brew have been going on for years, and combined with the international distribution network of the company - Guinness is very much a global titan of the drinks industry.

But next time you take a sip of Arthur Guinness' creation - with the right frame of mind - you can still taste a little bit of the oak cask barrels and cobbled streets of the bygone Dublin from which it originated.

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