Guinness is a popular Irish dry stout that originated in the brewery of Arthur Guinness (1725–1803) at St. James’s Gate, Dublin. Guinness is one of the most successful beer brands worldwide. It is brewed in almost 60 countries and is available in over 100. A feature of the product is the burnt flavour that is derived from roasted unmalted barley. For many years a portion of aged brew was blended with freshly brewed beer to give a sharp lactic flavour. Although the Guinness palate still features a characteristic “tang”. The draught beer’s thick, creamy head comes from mixing the beer with nitrogen when poured. It is popular with Irish people both in Ireland and abroad.
Studies claim that Guinness can be beneficial to the heart. Researchers found that “‘antioxidant compounds’ in the Guinness, similar to those found in certain fruits and vegetables, are responsible for the health benefits because they slow down the deposit of harmful cholesterol on the artery walls.”
The company has had its headquarters in London from 1932 onwards. Arthur Guinness started brewing ales from 1759 at the St. James’s Gate Brewery, Dublin. On 31 December 1759 he signed a 9,000 year lease at £45 per annum for the unused brewery. Ten years later, on 19 May 1769, Guinness first exported his ale: he shipped six-and-a-half barrels to Great Britain.
Making the product requires knowledge in the sciences of microbiology, mycology, bacteriology, and thermodynamics. The breweries pioneered several quality control efforts. The brewery hired the statistician William Sealy Gosset in 1899, who achieved lasting fame under the pseudonym “Student” for techniques developed for Guinness, particularly Student’s t-distribution and the even more commonly known Student’s t-test.
It is also known as a “meal in a glass”. Until the late 1950s Guinness was still racked into wooden casks. In the late 1950s and early 1960s aluminium kegs began replacing the wooden casks; these were nicknamed “iron lungs”. Draught Guinness and its canned counterpart contain nitrogen (N2) as well as carbon dioxide. Nitrogen is less soluble than carbon dioxide, which allows the beer to be put under high pressure without making it fizzy.
“Stout” originally referred to a beer’s strength, but eventually shifted meaning toward body and colour.
Arthur Guinness started selling the dark beer porter in 1778. The first Guinness beers to use the term were Single Stout and Double Stout in the 1840s. Throughout the bulk of its history, Guinness produced ‘only three variations of a single beer type: porter or single stout, double or extra and foreign stout for export’. In October 1886 Guinness became a public company, and was averaging sales of 1,138,000 barrels a year.
Guinness has also been referred to as “the black stuff” and as a “Pint of Plain” – referred to in the famous refrain of Flann O’Brien’s poem “The Workman’s Friend”: “A pint of plain is your only man.”
The production of Guinness, as with many beers, involves the use of isinglass made from fish. Isinglass is used as a fining agent for settling out suspended matter in the vat. The isinglass is retained in the floor of the vat but it is possible that minute quantities might be carried over into the beer.
Guinness stout is made from water, barley, roast malt extract, hops, and brewer’s yeast. A portion of the barley is roasted to give Guinness its dark colour and characteristic taste. It is pasteurised and filtered.
Contemporary Guinness Draught and Extra Stout are weaker than they were in the 19th century, when they had an original gravity of over 1.070. Foreign Extra Stout and Special Export Stout, with abv of 7.5% and 9% respectively, are perhaps closest to the original in character. Although Guinnessmay appear to be black, it is officially a very dark shade of ruby. Bottle conditioned Guinness Extra Stout was available in the UK until 1994, and in Ireland until early 2000.
When Guinness is poured, the gas bubbles appear to travel downwards in the glass. The effect is attributed to drag; bubbles that touch the walls of a glass are slowed in their travel upwards. Guinness is frequently used as an ingredient in recipes, often to add a seemingly authentic Irish element to the menus of Irish-themed pubs in the United States, where it is stirred into everything from french toast to beef stew. A popular, authentic, Irish course featuring Guinness is the “Guinness and Steak Pie.” The recipe includes many common Irish herbs, as well as beef brisket, cheeses, and a can of Guinness.