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ceasol, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0
ceasol, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

Sláinte! 16 Delicious Facts About Guinness

ceasol, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0
ceasol, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

Under the guidance of Arthur Guinness and his heirs, Guinness has been brewing pints of its famous stout in Dublin since the mid 18th century. Pour yourself a glass of the black stuff and read on for more facts about the legendary brewery. 

1. THE COMPANY INITIALLY LEASED THE BREWERY FOR 9000 YEARS.

Guinness started his business in 1759 by renting an unused, four-acre brewery at St. James’s Gate in Dublin for the next 9000 years. He paid an initial £100 and locked in annual rent at £45. However, the original lease was voided when the company bought the property and the brewing operations expanded to 50 acres

2. THE LEASE INCLUDED FREE ACCESS TO A WATER SUPPLY.

And the owner was very protective of that privilege. In fact, the one time local authorities tried to make Arthur Guinness pay for his water, he is said to have grabbed a pick-axe from one of the sheriff’s men and swore at them until they left. 

3. THERE WAS ONCE AN ALE, AS WELL. 

Guinness started his beer company by brewing two beers: a porter and an ale. However, the Dublin Ale was dropped from production in 1799 so brewers could focus on the increasingly popular stout. 

4. THE PERFECT PINT OF GUINNESS SHOULD TAKE 119.5 SECONDS TO POUR.

There are six official steps to pouring a pint of Guinness, including waiting nearly two minutes for the beer to settle between the first and second pour.

5. THE BEER'S OFFICIAL COLOR IS RUBY RED. 

It’s easier to see the slight tint that comes from the roasted barley if you hold the pint up to the light. 

6. GUINNESS IS BREWED IN 49 COUNTRIES AROUND THE WORLD.

In addition to in its home country, Guinness also owns breweries in Malaysia, Nigeria, Ghana, and Cameroon. All of the ingredients are sourced locally, except for one: the Guinness extract, a secret mixture that is added to a Guinness brewed anywhere in the world. 

7. IRELAND ISN'T THE BIGGEST CONSUMER.

The country ranks third on the list of places where residents tip back the most Guinness annually, after Britain and Nigeria. Every day, 10 million glasses of Guinness are consumed around the world. 

8. THE BUBBLES IN THE BEER SINK BECAUSE OF THE SHAPE OF THE GLASS. 

When a Guinness is poured, the beer flows downward along the side of the glass, dragging bubbles along with it which then move upward through the middle and form the creamy head. This circulatory pattern is created by the fact that pint glasses are wider at the top than at the bottom giving the bubbles more space to rise from the middle as opposed to from the side. 

9. GUINNESS WAS ONE OF THE FIRST COMPANIES TO OFFER EMPLOYEE BENEFITS.

Employees who punched the clock at the company in 1928, just one year before the Great Depression, were entitled to on-site medical and dental care—and two free pints after every shift. Guinness also consistently paid its employees 20 percent more than other brewers and gave them full pensions. 

10. THE GUINNESS HARP WAS ONE OF THE FIRST TRADEMARKS IN THE U.K.

nanstoe, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

The harp, along with Arthur Guinness’s signature, made its first appearance on a Guinness beer label in 1862 and was officially registered in the trademark office in 1876. The harp is a nod to the beer’s Irish roots. The same instrument appears on Ireland’s coat of arms.

11. THE SIMILARITIES BETWEEN THE TWO HARPS WERE NOTICED BY THE PATENT OFFICE.

The government ran into issues when trying to register the harp as a state symbol under international trademark law because the symbol and the Guinness label were so similar. Eventually, the state and the brewery were able to reach a compromise: the harp on a bottle of Guinness would always face right, while in official use, the harp would always be left-facing. 

DURING WORLD WAR II, GUINNESS PROMISED TO GIVE EVERY BRITISH SOLDIER A PINT ON CHRISTMAS.

Guinness made the statement before realizing that much of the company's work force was also serving abroad at the time. When the company discovered they needed more workers in order to brew enough beer, retirees showed up at the plant to help out. With the help from veterans and workers from other brewing companies, Guinness was able to stay true to its word. 

13. IT MIGHT ACTUALLY BE GOOD FOR YOU. 

As a 1920s advertising campaign exclaimed, a pint of Guinness does contain some extra benefits. (Guinness ended the campaign after a run-in with the Advertising Standards Authority of Ireland.) Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison concluded that the dark stuff contains a dosage of flavonoids large enough to help reduce the risk of heart attacks. 

14. THE FIRST GUINNESS BOOK OF WORLD RECORD WAS PUBLISHED TO HELP SETTLE ARGUMENTS IN THE PUBS. 

After a particularly unfruitful hunting trip, Hugh Beaver, the managing director of Guinness, mentioned that the bird he and friends had been hunting—the golden plover—must be the fastest bird in the world. When Beaver was unable to locate a reference book that could back his claim, he decided to create one. He stamped the Guinness name on the cover and handed the book out for free to pubs to help customers settle the debates and bets that happen so frequently after a pint. 

15. IT HAS BEEN CONSUMED UNDERWATER. 

As part of the celebration of the 250th anniversary of Arthur Guinness signing the lease on the St. James’s Gate brewery, the company held a contest that promised the winners would get to drink a Guinness like never before. A submarine bar was commissioned in 2009 and three years later, the winners went under the Baltic Sea in Stockholm to enjoy their pints.

16. GUINNESS CREATED ITS OWN SUPERHERO IN AFRICA. 

As part of an advertising campaign, Guinness created a full-length action movie called Critical Assignment that was shown in cinemas across Africa. The story follows the strong journalist Michael Power as he tries to stop a corrupt politician from buying weapons with stolen money. Power gets all his strength from drinking—you guessed it—Guinness.

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History
84 Years Ago Today: Goodbye Prohibition!
A huge queue outside the Board of Health offices in Centre Street, New York, for licenses to sell alcohol shortly after the repeal of prohibition. The repeal of prohibition was a key policy of Franklin Roosevelt's government as it allowed the government an opportunity to raise tax revenues at a time of economic hardship.
A huge queue outside the Board of Health offices in Centre Street, New York, for licenses to sell alcohol shortly after the repeal of prohibition. The repeal of prohibition was a key policy of Franklin Roosevelt's government as it allowed the government an opportunity to raise tax revenues at a time of economic hardship.
Keystone/Getty Images

It was 84 years ago today that the Twenty-First Amendment to the Constitution was ratified, repealing the earlier Amendment that declared the manufacture, sale, and transport of alcohol illegal in the United States. Prohibition was over! Booze that had been illegal for 13 years was suddenly legal again, and our long national nightmare was finally over.


A giant barrel of beer, part of a demonstration against prohibition in America.
Henry Guttmann/Getty Images

Prohibition of alcohol was not a popular doctrine. It turned formerly law-abiding citizens into criminals. It overwhelmed police with enforcement duties and gave rise to organized crime. In cities like Milwaukee and St. Louis, the dismantling of breweries left thousands of people unemployed.


Photograph courtesy of the Boston Public Library

Homemade alcohol was often dangerous and some people died from drinking it. Some turned to Sterno or industrial alcohol, which was dangerous and sometimes poisoned by the government to discourage drinking. State and federal governments were spending a lot of money on enforcement, while missing out on taxes from alcohol.


New York City Deputy Police Commissioner John A. Leach (right) watches agents pour liquor into sewer following a raid during the height of Prohibition.

The midterm elections of 1930 saw the majority in Congress switch from Republican to Democratic, signaling a shift in public opinion about Prohibition as well as concerns about the depressed economy. Franklin Roosevelt, who urged repeal, was elected president in 1932. The Twenty-first Amendment to the Constitution was proposed by Congress in February of 1933, the sole purpose of which was to repeal the Eighteenth Amendment establishing Prohibition.


American men guarding their private beer brewing hide-out, during Prohibition.
Keystone/Getty Images

With passage of the Constitutional Amendment to repeal Prohibition a foregone conclusion, a huge number of businessmen lined up at the Board of Health offices in New York in April of 1933 to apply for liquor licenses to be issued as soon as the repeal was ratified.

The Amendment was ratified by the states by the mechanism of special state ratifying conventions instead of state legislatures. Many states ratified the repeal as soon as conventions could be organized. The ratifications by the required two-thirds of the states was achieved on December 5, 1933, when conventions in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Utah agreed to repeal Prohibition through the Amendment.


Workmen unloading crates of beer stacked at a New York brewery shortly after the repeal of Prohibition.
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A brewery warehouse in New York stacked crates past the ceiling to satisfy a thirsty nation after the repeal of Prohibition.


Keystone/Getty Images

Liquor wouldn't officially be legal until December 15th, but Americans celebrated openly anyway, and in most places, law enforcement officials let them.

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Courtesy New District
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Food
Say ‘Cheers’ to the Holidays With This 24-Bottle Wine Advent Calendar
Courtesy New District
Courtesy New District

This year, eschew your one-tiny-chocolate-a-day Advent calendar and count down to Christmas the boozy way. An article on the Georgia Straight tipped us off to New District’s annual wine Advent calendars, featuring 24 full-size bottles.

Each bottle of red, white, or sparkling wine is hand-picked by the company’s wine director, with selections from nine different countries. Should you be super picky, you can even order yourself a custom calendar, though that will likely add to the already-high price point. The basic 24-bottle order costs $999 (in Canadian dollars), and if you want to upgrade from cardboard boxes to pine, that will run you $100 more.

If you can’t quite handle 24 bottles (or $999), the company is introducing a 12-bottle version this year, too. For $500, you get 12 reds, whites, rosés, and sparkling wines from various unnamed “elite wine regions.”

With both products, each bottle is numbered, so you know exactly what you should be drinking every day if you really want to be a stickler for the Advent schedule. Whether you opt for 12 or 24 bottles, the price works out to about $42 per bottle, which is somewhere in between the “I buy all my wines based on what’s on sale at Trader Joe’s” level and “I am a master sommelier” status.

If you want to drink yourself through the holiday season, act now. To make sure you receive your shipment before December 1, you’ll need to order by November 20. Get it here.

[h/t the Georgia Straight]

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