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The world of Guinness

Thanks to the genius and foresight of one man, a beer born in Ireland is toasted around the world. And a building that is a storehouse of 250 years of the brand's history is charming visitors to come discover what goes into every pint. By Steena Joy

Without Arthur there would be no Guinness. So says one of the signboards in the Guinness Storehouse at the St James's Gate Brewery in Dublin and that’s the first introduction to the master brewer whose name is associated with Ireland’s most famous brew. Arthur Guinness was born in Celbridge Co Kildare in 1725. His father Richard was land steward to Arthur Price, Church of Ireland Archbishop of Cashel and brewed beer for workers on the estate. When the Archbishop died, he left 100 pounds to Arthur Guinness his godson who used the money to lease a brewery in Leixlip.

Three years later, the lad went to seek his fortune in Dublin, leaving his younger brother in charge of the brewery. In 1759 he signed a 9,000 year lease on the present site and the rest as they say is history. Today after more than 250 years, the brewery rolls out approximately 10 million glasses of the iconic dark beer enjoyed across the world every day in 150 countries. In February 1929, the first official Guinness advert appeared in the national British press with the slogan ‘Guinness is good for you’, a slogan that has been marked in advertising history as one of the greatest campaigns of all time.

The legacy lives on

The legacy of Arthur Guinness is well preserved in the Guinness Storehouse which was a fermentation plant from 1904 to 1988 and is now a seven storey visitor experience centre dedicated to the history and making of this world famous beer. An average of just over one million visitors every year come to discover what goes into the making of each and every pint, and learn about the incredible brand history stretching over 250 years.

The building is designed in the shape of a giant pint of Guinness, that, if full, would hold 14.3 million pints. Visitors to the storehouse get to experience the beer like a true connoisseur in the Tasting Experience, enjoy spectacular views across Dublin in The Gravity Bar on the seventh floor and learn to pour their own perfect pint of Guinness at The Guinness Academy. They can visit the Corporate exhibit and discover the ancient craft of cask making or explore the various transport methods used by Guinness for centuries. Or take in the new Guinness monument, which tells the story of how Guinness has grown to become a truly global iconic drink. There is even an interactive Drink IQ quiz where one can learn the facts and see how his body responds to alcohol. And last but not the least, discover the history of the Guinness Book of Records, developed by the Guinness Company as a book of facts to solve any disputes that in the past may have occurred in pubs across the UK and Ireland.

Given pride of place in the middle of the atrium is a copy of the famous lease that Arthur Guinness signed on December 31, 1759, and marks the starting point of any visit. The lease is surrounded by the world's largest pint glass of Guinness.

Making records
In 1951, Sir Hugh Beaver, then the managing director of the Guinness Breweries, went on a shooting party and became involved in an argument over which was the fastest game bird in Europe, the koshin golden plover or the grouse. He realised that it was impossible to confirm in reference books whether or not the golden plover was Europe's fastest game bird. Beaver knew that there must be many such questions debated every night in pubs across Ireland, and felt that a book supplying the answers to this sort of question might prove popular.

Student twins Norris and Ross McWhirter, were commissioned to compile what became The Guinness Book of Records in August 1954. One thousand copies were printed and given away. After founding the Guinness Book of Records at 107 Fleet Street, London, the first 197-page edition was bound on August 27, 1955 and went to the top of the British bestseller lists by Christmas.

Recently, the company unveiled the first phase of a 10 million euro investment in the Storehouse with the launch of the ‘Guinness Global’ fourth floor. Visitors to the new ‘Guinness Global’ floor can take part in a variety of interactive and engaging experiences including the Guinness Academy, the Guinness Community Map, the Guinness Variants Exhibition, the Guinness Connoisseur Bar, the Arthur Guinness Fund Exhibition and a Guinness Infographic Wall. A total of €2.5 million was invested in the fourth floor developments.

Paul Carty, managing director of the Guinness Storehouse comments, “The innovative new fourth floor has created a new benchmark for digital experiences at the Guinness Storehouse. The developments over the next three years will allow us ‘future proof’ the building to accommodate our growing visitor numbers while also enhancing the overall experience.”

The Guinness Connoisseur Bar, a secret, hidden bar will offer Guinness fans and beer aficionados a truly special, premium snug experience to appreciate and enjoy Guinness’s four main variants: Guinness Draft, Guinness Original, Foreign Extra Stout and Guinness Black Lager which was launched earlier this year. Led by Guinness experts, visitors will enjoy guided tasting sessions in the truly luxurious leather clad hide-away.

A 250-year old secret

The craft of making Guinness is unique and highly specialised and has been handed down from one generation of brewers to the next. Guinness brewers are continuously looking at ways to improve the performance of the brewery and ensure that the quality of Guinness is always perfect. However although brewery techniques have kept pace with technological advances, the basic process laid down by Arthur Guinness remains unchanged.

Guinness did not invent stout but many would say he perfected it. All stouts are brewed from the same basic ingredients of barley, water, hops and yeast. But the essence of Guinness beer is in the brewing. Stout is a ‘Stouter’ or more fill bodied version of porter. Porter a darker version of beer was invented in London in the 18th century. Not long afterwards, Guinness was brewing it in Dublin.

Hops only grow in two regions of the world. This temperamental plant requires a specific amount of sunlight, only available between 35 and 55 north and south of the equator. The hops that go into Guinness are of the highest quality sourced from Australia, the Czech Republic, Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States and New Zealand. Hop plants can grow to an astonishing 15 feet in height. In the past, the hops were grown on stilts attached with strings from pegs in the ground to overhead wires so that the plants can grow to such heights. Picking was traditionally done by hand but today, machinery is used in hop harvesting.

The first step in the brewing Guinness is to prepare the barley. Barley is malted, roasted, milled, mixed with hot water and mashed. The liquid is then filtered off and boiled with hops. Then yeast is added, fermentation begins. The beer is then clarified, matured and prepared for packaging. About 15,000 tonnes of barley are roasted every year at St James Gate. Roasted barley gives Guinness its distinctive ruby red colour and contributes to its characteristic flavour and aroma.

Cheers to the beer

According to Carty, visitor numbers to Guinness Storehouse from Asia have grown in 2012. “From January to October 2012, we have experienced a 23 per cent increase in visitor numbers from Asia compared to the same time period in 2011. We see Asia, in particular India and China as growth markets for tourism into Ireland, especially since it is now easier to obtain tourist visas for Indian and Chinese visitors,” he believes.

Investment in the Guinness Storehouse continues this year with plans to develop a new and dramatic Guinness Taste experience, a new look Guinness Retail Store and a ground breaking digital installation which will tell the Arthur Guinness story. These new advances will be unveiled in the summer of 2013.

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