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Our Craft

Farmed for the future

100% of our Irish barley is sustainably sourced

Never settle. We’re just 262 years into our 9,000-year lease at St. James’s Gate and the next ten may be the most important. Arthur Guinness thought beyond the bottom line in the early days when he established a legacy of philanthropy. By serving on the board of Meath Hospital, he made sure his growing workforce had access to healthcare.

Future generations followed in his footsteps, working tirelessly to transform working conditions of the day. By the 1890s, employees were offered free medical, housing, and pensions. We also collaborated with farmers and helped to inspire the best practices of the day.

That’s because if you plan to be around for millennia, you also have a duty to protect the world beyond the brewery doors. You have to think (a long way) beyond today.

Take the Irish barley at the heart of our famous pint, for example. Back then, we knew local farmers were onto a good thing in. So, we questioned everything we thought we knew about these specialty grains to ensure a resilient barley sector and quality supply for the black stuff. Experimental plots were established to trial new varieties and test different farming methods to make every sip more sustainable. No idea was off the table.

In 1903, we set up experimental barley plots at Ballinacurra, Co. Cork with the Department of Agriculture. With a collective mindset and plenty of creativity, we believed we could revolutionise farming of the future. It was a gamble, but it paid off. The Spratt-Archer barley strain was born, which could better survive harsh conditions, produce a better yield, and deliver farmers the quality they wanted.

Since 1954, along with our supply partner Boortmalt, one of the world’s largest malt producers, we have organized The Malting Barley Excellence Awards, a national competition to improve standards and celebrate ideas. And as we look to promote every increasingly sustainable practice in the production of barley, we are now introducing our new Guinness Sustainability Award.

Doing better has never been more important. In 2014, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) warned that topsoils are degrading so quickly that we may have just 60 harvests left. It’s clear we must all work together to ensure the implementation of farming practices that work with our planet, not against it.

It’s why today, we’re proud that 100% of our Irish barley is sustainably sourced. We remain at the forefront of sustainable brewing and are committed to a more sustainable future alongside our partners and growers.

And to guarantee every grain meets our strict standards, all Irish barley farmers behind every pint are members of the Irish Grain Assurance Scheme (IGAS), which is a leading standard for sustainable farming. It means the farmers we partner with implement sustainable practices such as soil testing and responsible pesticide use when they grow, harvest, and transport the Irish barley that’s integral to your pint.

We have a long way to go on our lease—and we certainly plan to make it to the end. But if we stand any chance, we must continue to look after our planet and push ourselves to do more. Just like Arthur himself, we must never settle.