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The History of Guinness®

Our Story

Our Story

It takes adventurous spirit and irrepressible ingenuity to do things the Guinness way. From our humble beginnings in 1759 to the present day, we’ve gone to extraordinary lengths to bring you exceptional beer. But, while many milestones mark the way on our long and illustrious path, we’re not ones to rest on our laurels. As we like to put it: our greatest work is yet to come.

Pushing brewing boundaries

With Guinness being enjoyed all over the world every day, we’re continuing to experiment and innovate in true pioneering style. Our brewing methods might have been passed down since Arthur’s time, but they never stop evolving. We’ve got a lot more beer to brew.

2015
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The Journey Continues

With the successful launch of three new brews – namely Dublin Porter, West Indies Porter and Guinness Golden Ale – behind them, our innovative brewers continue to brew up anything they can dream up, proudly pushing brewing boundaries to bring you beers like no other.

2015
50 Years of Malaysian Magic

Guinness marks half a century of brewing beer in Malaysia with three beautifully conceived, limited-edition designs for Foreign Extra Stout, inspired by the country’s vibrant culture and history.

2014
The Brewers Project

Guinness launches the Brewers Project, based at Brew House No. 4, a brand new brewery at St. James’s Gate. This select group of enterprising brewers is set on a quest to explore new brews, reinterpret historic recipes and experiment with ways to bring exciting new beers to life.

2009
An Anniversary to Remember

Guinness marks 250 years of innovative brewing with an entire year of firsts, including a retrospective campaign that pays homage to 80 years of Guinness advertising and a spectacular live TV commercial. Arthur’s Day celebrations kick off a remarkable worldwide toast – joined by 50 million people – and a €2.5 million Arthur Guinness Fund is launched, created to empower social entrepreneurs across Ireland.

1999
Rocket launch

We take our revolutionary widget technology a step further to bring you Guinness Draught… in a bottle.

1991
Guinness Versus Internet

The Guinness Rocket Widget is awarded the Queen’s Award for Technological Achievement, beating the Internet to be voted by Britons as the best invention of the previous 40 years.

1985
Pure advertising genius

The launch of the Pure Genius Campaign – including the ‘Man with the Guinness’ TV commercials – ushers in another wave of creative expression.

2015
An Inventive Brew

Fusing over two centuries of brewing heritage and innovation, our Nitro IPA is born. Everything you’d want from an IPA blended with everything you’d expect from Guinness, it features a unique blend of carbon dioxide and nitrogen to balance out the profusion of hop flavors.

2012
Made of More

A new campaign heralds the start of another chapter in our considered and courageous advertising legacy, championing a life ‘made of more’ and celebrating the attitude shared by Guinness brewers and drinkers alike.

2000
The Home of Guinness

A former fermentation plant at the St. James’s Gate Brewery is transformed into a seven-storey interactive experience bringing the story of world-famous stout to life. The Guinness Storehouse opens its doors to the public and becomes the official home of Guinness in the historic heart of Dublin.

1998
Tick followed tock

The launch of our iconic ‘Good Things Come to Those Who Wait’ campaign.

1988
The Rocket Widget

The ever-inventive brains at Guinness dream up the first ever widget, which nitrogenates canned Guinness so it retains its smooth and creamy taste.

A Bold New Era

Guinness publishes its first advertisements in the British national press, drops 150,000 limited-edition bottles into the Atlantic Ocean, brings its legendary draft beer to bars and pubs across the UK and begins a brand new brewing legacy in Africa.

1965
New Territories

Guinness’ first ever Malaysian brewery, located near Kuala Lumpur, completes its first ever commercial brew… six weeks ahead of schedule. A year later the brewery is officially opened by the Prime Minister of the recently independent Malaysia.

1963
Authentically African

Nigeria becomes the first country outside the UK and Ireland to brew its own Guinness: the beginnings of a brand new brewing heritage.

1959
Bi-centenary bottle drop

Marking 200 years of brewing success with typical Guinness flair, the company drops 150,000 embossed bottles into the Atlantic Ocean from 38 different ships over a period of six weeks. The bottles contain some unusual documents, namely a colorful certificate from ‘the Office of King Neptune’, a booklet recounting the story of Guinness, a special gold-colored Guinness Stout label and even instructions on how to turn the bottle into a table lamp.

1929
Courageously Creative

A history of imaginative advertising begins here. The first press advertisement for Guinness appears featuring the slogan ‘Guinness is Good for You’. Following its success, Guinness enlists gifted landscape artist and portrait painter John Gilroy to bring to life two groundbreaking, long-running campaigns: ‘Guinness is Good for You’ and ‘My Goodness, My Guinness’. The latter features a menagerie of zoo animals, including the now-famous Guinness toucan.

1959
The launch of an icon

With a skillful pairing of nitrogen gas and carbon dioxide, Guinness Draught is born. Distinguished by its velvet-smooth texture and legendary stormy surge upon pouring, Guinness Draught brews up a storm all of its own by establishing itself as the top-selling Guinness beer with lightning speed.

1939
At ease soldier

Guinness has always been about beer and people, and WWII is no exception. All British Troops in the British Expeditionary Force in France receive a bottle of Guinness to accompany their Christmas dinner.

1927
Keeping it in the family

Rupert Guinness, 2nd Lord Iveagh, takes over as Chairman of the company.

Art Meets Science

Striking out against the norm yet again, Guinness surprises the brewing industry by hiring scientists to evolve its craft. This paves the way for the first Guinness research laboratory, closely followed by an experimental brewhouse and maltings.

1901
An Exact Science

The first Guinness research laboratory is established under a second Oxford-educated chemist, Alexander Forbes-Watson. This is quickly followed by an experimental brewhouse and experimental maltings, spearheading the transformation of St. James’s Gate into a state-of-the-art 20th-century brewery.

1893
Experimental Thinking

Guinness hires a university science graduate for the very first time. The appointment of Oxford-educated Thomas Bennett Case heralds the beginning of a new wave of innovation at St. James’s Gate.

1877
The Guinness Fleet

The company commissions a brand new fleet of custom-designed Guinness barges to transport its precious cargo along Ireland’s River Liffey.

A Thirst for Adventure

In the early 1800s, while other breweries stay close to home, Guinness goes its own way and braves the perils of sea travel to export its famous black beer across the globe, from Europe to Africa and The Americas… all the way to New Zealand.

1868
Bigger and better

Edward Cecil takes over from Sir Benjamin Lee Guinness and doubles the size of the family brewery. The new and improved St. James’s Gate accommodates, among other things, its very own railway system, cooperage and barley maltings. It’s referred to by those in the know as a ‘city within a city’ due to the brewery having its very own medical department, fire brigade and canteens for staff.

1862
Our seal of approval

The famous buff Guinness trademark label is introduced, bearing three devices: Arthur’s signature, our legendary harp symbol and the Guinness name.

1858
Pioneering Spirit

Given the perils of early sea crossings, at this point in time, most Irish breweries are satisfied with domestic sales. Not Guinness. By 1858, their beer is already being exported as far as New Zealand.

1861
Stylish Serves

The death of Prince Albert leaves a country in mourning. A London bar steward decides that even champagne must reflect the city’s black mood, and uses Guinness Extra Stout to add depth and darkness to the drink. And so, the Black Velvet is born.

1850
Inherited skill

Sir Benjamin Lee Guinness takes over the brewery from his father, Arthur Guinness II.

The path less travelled

Never afraid to do things differently, Arthur Guinness ceases brewing ale in 1799 and is the first in his city to focus solely on perfecting porter, a black beer from London finding favor in Dublin.

1821
Perfecting the Porter

Precise instructions for brewing Guinness Superior Porter are recorded – the historic beginnings of today’s Guinness Original and Guinness Extra Stout.

1803
A new heir

Arthur Guinness II takes over his father’s brewery after the death of his father.

1799
A Leap of Faith

A dark beer from London – called ‘porter’ due to its popularity with the city’s street and river porters – is becoming ever more popular in Dublin. Never one to play it safe, Arthur makes the courageous choice to stop brewing ales and concentrate on perfecting his bold, black beer.

1801
The beer that traveled

Fortune favors the brave: Arthur brews his first West India Porter, a precursor to the Guinness Foreign Extra Stout enjoyed all over the world today.

It starts with a signature

A young Arthur Guinness leaves home and heads to Dublin in 1759, where he signs a 9000-year lease on a dilapidated brewery at St. James’s Gate. Here’s to bold beginnings.

1769
The maiden voyage

Six-and-a-half barrels of Guinness beer leave Dublin on a sailing ship bound for England. The success of the brewery’s first exported shipment marks the shape of things to come.

1759
The 9000-Year Lease

On December 31st, 1759, Arthur signs a 9000-year lease on a small, disused and ill-equipped property at St. James’s Gate and starts to brew ale.

1752
Humble Beginnings

Arthur inherits £100 from his godfather Archbishop Price, and sets up his own ale brewery in Leixlip, County Kildare.

1759
Destined for Dublin

At 34, Arthur decides to try his luck in the country’s capital. A floundering brewing industry makes this no easy task, but – true to form – Arthur is undeterred.

1725
Birth of a brewing legend

Arthur Guinness is born in Celbridge, County Kildare