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Guinness is a popular dry stout that originated in Arthur Guinness's St. James's Gate Brewery in Dublin, Ireland. The beer is based on the porter style that originated in London in the early 18th century. It is one of the most successful beer brands in the world, being exported worldwide. The distinctive feature in the flavour is the roasted barley which remains unfermented. For many years a portion of the beer was aged to give a sharp lactic flavour, but Guinness has refused to confirm if this still occurs. The thick creamy head is the result of the beer being mixed with nitrogen when being served. It is extremely popular with the Irish and is the best-selling alcoholic drink of all time in Ireland, where Guinness & Co. makes almost 2 billion annually.

Now available around the world, the brand is heavily associated with Ireland. The parent company has been headquartered in London since 1932 and was later merged with Grand Metropolitan plc and developed into a multi-national alcohol conglomerate named Diageo.

Guinness stout is made from water, barley malt, barley, hops, and brewer's yeast. A portion of the barley is flaked (i.e. steamed and rolled) and roasted to give Guinness its dark colour and characteristic taste. It is pasteurised and filtered. Despite its reputation as a "meal in a glass", Guinness only contains 198 calories (838 kilojoules) per imperial pint (20 fl oz UK) (1460 kJ/l), fewer than an equal-sized serving of skimmed milk or orange juice and most other non-light beers.

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. The high pressure of dissolved gas is required to enable very small bubbles to be formed by forcing the draught beer through fine holes in a plate in the tap, which causes the characteristic "surge" (the widget in cans and bottles achieves the same effect). The perceived smoothness of draught Guinness is due to its low level of carbon dioxide and the creaminess of the head caused by the very fine bubbles that arise from the use of nitrogen and the dispensing method described above. "Original Extra Stout" contains only carbon dioxide, causing a more acidic taste.

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 over 7%, are perhaps closest to the original in character.

Although Guinness may appear to be black, it is officially a very dark shade of ruby.

Arthur Guinness started brewing ales initially in Leixlip, then at the St. James's Gate Brewery, Dublin, Ireland from 1759. He signed a 9,000 year lease at £45 per annum for the unused brewery. Ten years later in 1769 Guinness exported their product for the first time, when six and a half barrels were shipped to England.

Although sometimes believed to have originated the stout style of beer, the first use of the word stout in relation to beer was in a letter in the Egerton Manuscript dated 1677, almost 50 years before Arthur Guinness was born. The first Guinness beers to use the term were Single Stout and Double Stout in the 1840s. Guinness brewed their last porter in 1974.

Guinness Stout is also brewed under licence internationally in several countries, including Nigeria and Indonesia. The unfermented but hopped Guinness wort extract (the essence) is shipped from Dublin and blended with beer brewed locally.

The Guinness brewery in Park Royal, London closed in 2005. The production of allGuinness sold in the UK was switched to St. James's Gate Brewery Dublin.

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.

Guinness stout is available in a number of variants and strengths, which include:

  • Guinness Draught, sold in kegs and widget cans and bottles4.1 to 4.3% alcohol by volume (abv); the Extra Cold is served through a super cooler at 3.5C (38.3F).
  • Guinness Original/Extra Stout4.2 or 4.3% abv (Ireland, UK, mainland Europe), 4.8% abv (Namibia/Southern Africa), 5% abv (Canada) and 6% abv (United States, Australia, Japan);
  • Guinness Foreign Extra Stout, is a 7.5% abv version sold in Europe, Africa, the Caribbean and Asia. The basis is an unfermented but hopped Guinness wort extract shipped from Dublin, which is added to local ingredients and brewed locally. The strength can vary, for example, it is sold at 5% abv in China, 6.5% abv in Jamaica and East Africa, and 8% abv in Singapore. In Nigeria a proportion of sorghum is used. Foreign Extra Stout is blended with a small amount of intentionally soured beer.
  • Guinness Special Export Stout, sold in Belgium and The Netherlands8% abv;
  • Guinness Bitter, an English-style bitter beer4.4% abv;
  • Guinness Extra Smooth, a smoother stout sold in Ghana, Cameroon and Nigeria5.5% abv;
  • Malta Guinness, a non-alcoholic sweet drink, produced in Nigeria and exported to the UK and Malaysia;
  • Guinness Mid-Strength, a low-alcohol stout being test-marketed in Limerick, Ireland from March 2006 and Dublin from May 2007 2.8% abv;
  • Guinness Red, brewed in exactly the same way as Guinness except that the barley is only lightly roasted so that it produces a lighter, slightly fruitier red ale, began test-marketing in Great Britain in February 20074.2% abv.
  • In October 2005, Guinness introduced the Brewhouse Series a limited-edition collection of draught stouts available for roughly six months each. The first stout in the series was Brew 39, which was released in Dublin from late 2005 until early 2006. It had the same alcohol content (ABV) as Guinness Draught, used the same gas mix and settled in the same way, but had a slightly different taste. Many found it to be lighter in taste, somewhat closer to Beamish stout than standard Irish Guinness.
  • In May 2006, the second in the Brewhouse Series was introduced, named Toucan Brew after the famous Guinness toucan seen in many advertisements for the stout. This beer had a crisper taste with a slightly sweet aftertaste due to its triple-hopped brewing process.
  • The third of the seriesNorth Starwas released in October 2006 and availability was extended into late 2007 at which point it gradually disappeared from bars. Three million pints of North Star were sold in the latter half of 2007. Despite an announcement in June 2007 that the fourth Brewhouse stout would be launched in October that year, no new beer appeared and, at the end of 2007, the Brewhouse series appeared to have been quietly cancelled.
  • In March 2006, Guinness introduced the "surger" in Great Britain. The surger is a plate-like electrical device meant for the home. It sends ultrasonic waves through a Guinness-filled pint glass to recreate the beer's "surge and settle" effect. The device works in conjunction with special cans of surger-ready Guinness. Guinness tried out a primitive version of this system in 1977 in New York. The idea was abandoned until 2003, when it began testing the surger in Japanese bars, most of which are too small to accommodate traditional keg-and-tap systems. Since then, the surger has been introduced to bars in Paris, but there is no intention of making it available to the French public. Surgers are also in use in Athens, Greece. The surger for the USA market was announced on November 14, 2007; plans are to make the unit available to bars only.
  • Withdrawn Guinness variants include Guinness's Brite Lager, Guinness's Brite Ale, Guinness Light, Guinness XXX Extra Strong Stout, Guinness Cream Stout, Guinness Gold, Guinness Pilsner, Guinness Breó (A slightly citrusy wheat beer), Guinness Shandy and Guinness Special Light.
  • For a short time in the late 1990s, Guinness produced the "St James's Gate" range of craft->Dublin pubs. The beers were: Pilsner Gold, Wicked Red Ale, Wildcat Wheat Beer and Dark Angel Lager.

A brewing byproduct of Guinness, Guinness Yeast Extract (GYE), was produced until the 1950s.

Irland, 1959, Arthur Guinness

Irland, 1959, Arthur Guinness

Irland, 1992, Farm produce, bottle and glass of Guinness

Irland, 2009, Arthur Guinness

South Georgia And The South Sandwich Islands, 2002, South Atlantick Sea Mammals

South Georgia And The South Sandwich Islands, 2002, Elephant seal

Tristan da Cunha, 2003, World Geographical Records

Tristan da Cunha, 2003, Edinburgh, Tristan da Cuhna

Virgin Islands, 2002, Reptiles

Virgin Islands, 2002, Spherodactylus pathenopian

Irland, 2009.08.28, Dublin. Arthur Guinness


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