Sláinte! 15 Facts About Guinness Beer

iStock.com/Nagalski
iStock.com/Nagalski

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 (which actually isn't black at all) and read on for more facts about the legendary brewery.

1. The company originally leased its Dublin brewery for 9000 years.

Arthur Guinness began his beer 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 [PDF] 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 producing more on the increasingly popular stout.

4. It takes 119.5 seconds to pour the perfect pint of Guinness.

A bartender pours several pints of Guinness
iStock.com/VanderWolf-Images

There are six official steps [PDF] 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 Ireland, Guinness also owns breweries in Malaysia, Nigeria, Ghana, and Cameroon. The beer is brewed in a total of 49 countries and served in more than 150. 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 of Guinness.

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 a pint of Guinness 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.

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 patent office noticed the similarities between the two harps.

The Storehouse at Guinness Brewery in Dublin, Ireland
iStock.com/powerofforever

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.

12. Guinness promised every British soldier a pint of beer on Christmas Day during WWII.

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. The first Guinness Book of World Records was published to help settle pub arguments.

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.

14. 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.

15. 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.

10 Things You Can Lift Instead of Dumbbells at Home

This Corgi puppy is the cuddliest dumbbell we ever did see.
This Corgi puppy is the cuddliest dumbbell we ever did see.
Tatomm/iStock via Getty Images

Right now, the prospect of handling dumbbells that have been touched by any number of strangers in your neighborhood gym might not seem very appealing—that is, if your gym is still open. For those of you who don’t want to buy your own dumbbells (or simply can’t find a store that has them in stock), we’re here to help you make do with what you might already have at home.

A six-pack of 12-ounce cans of beer weighs about 5 pounds, which is perfect for novice lifters who love to crack open a cold one as a reward for working out. Other options for people who usually reach for 5-pound dumbbells include a full ream of printer paper, a bag of all-purpose flour, and a regular red brick.

Seasoned bench-pressers without an at-home gym set up in their garage might still find some useful equipment in there—a spare tire, for example, weighs about 25 pounds. And it’ll take you more than a little muscle to do a few reps with your treasured collection of hardcover Harry Potter books, which weighs 20 pounds. Speaking of books, the third edition of the Oxford American Dictionary comes in around 7 pounds, but you can always stack it with some other heavy volumes to hit your ideal lifting weight.

Pets can help you reach your exercise goals, too, if they have the right temperament. Your cat probably weighs around 10 pounds, and a grown male golden retriever is likely between 65 and 75 pounds. Are you wondering if this is a good excuse to adopt a pet? The answer is yes.

See our top 10 makeshift dumbbells below, and pick out a movie to watch while you lift here.

  1. A standard-sized brick // 4.2 pounds
  1. A six-pack of canned beer // 5 pounds
  1. A ream of printer paper // 5 pounds
  1. A bag of all-purpose flour // 5 pounds
  1. The Oxford American Dictionary, Third Edition // 7 pounds
  1. A gallon of milk // 8.6 pounds
  1. A cat // 10 pounds
  1. A bag of dry dog food // 15 pounds
  1. A hardcover box set of Harry Potter books // 20 pounds
  1. A new car tire // 25 pounds

At Mental Floss, we only write about the products we love and want to share with our readers, so all products are chosen independently by our editors. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a percentage of any sale made from the links on this page. Prices and availability are accurate as of the time of publication.

Pick Up a New Hobby With This Beer Brewing Kit

Brewferm's beer-making kit comes with all of the important ingredients you'll need to make a Belgian-inspired saison.
Brewferm's beer-making kit comes with all of the important ingredients you'll need to make a Belgian-inspired saison.
Brewferm/Amazon

Sure, you could turn to a craft brewery when you want to sample one-of-a-kind beers with unique flavors—or you could learn to make your own. With this $100 starter kit from Brewferm, you can brew and bottle up to 15 liters of premium Belgian beer in your own home.

The kit comes with clear, simple instructions for getting started, and it includes everything you need—save for water, sugar, and reusable bottles (although you can buy those from Brewferm for an additional $70). Brewferm’s starter kit comes with a Belgian saison beer mix—a pale farmhouse ale with a fruity flavor—and they also sell mixes for more exotic beers, like an imperial stout and a Belgian IPA. Each beer mix includes ingredients like hop extract, barley malt, and yeast, and every kit comes with a guide that takes you through the entire process, including how to keep the whole operation sanitary for the best brew possible.

Each type of beer takes about a minimum of two months to fully ferment and mature. It’s a lengthy process, but an impressive hobby—and a crowd-pleaser for any friends you want to entertain. Want to learn more about homebrewing? Check out this list of interesting facts you might not know.

At Mental Floss, we only write about the products we love and want to share with our readers, so all products are chosen independently by our editors. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a percentage of any sale made from the links on this page. Prices and availability are accurate as of the time of publication.

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