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The History of Guinness®

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.

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
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.

2014
Guinness Brewer Peter Simpsons at work
The Brewers Project

Guinness launches the Brewers Project, based at the brand new Pilot 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
Poster celebrating Arthur Guinness Day
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
Poster for Guinness Draught in a bottle
Rocket launch

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

1991
An award certificate for the Guinness widget
Guinness Versus the 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.

2012
A Guinness pint glass
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 Guinness Storehouse in Dublin, Ireland
Guinness Storehouse®

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
A image taken from the famous Guinness Surfer advert, showing horses jumping through waves
Tick Followed Tock

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

1988
The Guinness widget inside a can
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.

2014
Guinness Brewer Peter Simpsons at work
The Brewers Project

Guinness launches the Brewers Project, based at the brand new Pilot 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
Poster celebrating Arthur Guinness Day
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
Poster for Guinness Draught in a bottle
Rocket launch

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

1991
An award certificate for the Guinness widget
Guinness Versus the 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.

2012
A Guinness pint glass
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 Guinness Storehouse in Dublin, Ireland
Guinness Storehouse®

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
A image taken from the famous Guinness Surfer advert, showing horses jumping through waves
Tick Followed Tock

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

1988
The Guinness widget inside a can
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 a 150,000 limited-edition bottles into the Atlantic Ocean, brings its legendary draught beer to bars and pubs across the UK and begins a brand new brewing legacy in Africa.

1965
A brewer at Guinness' first ever Malaysian brewery
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
The launch of Guinness' brewery in Nigeria
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
A certificate from 'The Office of King Neptune'
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 colourful certificate from ‘the Office of King Neptune’, a booklet recounting the story of Guinness, a special gold-coloured Guinness Stout label and even instructions on how to turn the bottle into a table lamp.

1929
Gilroy My Goodness My Guinness crocodile poster
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
Inventor of the surge Michael Ash
The launch of an icon

We become the first brewer to employ scientists to help us create the perfect beer. Michael Ash is one such man – he invents Guinness Draught’s distinctive ‘surge and settle’ effect and the world’s first nitro beer. And with a skilful 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
A Guinness brewer at work
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
A photo of Rupert Guinness
Keeping it in the family

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

1963
The launch of Guinness' brewery in Nigeria
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
A certificate from 'The Office of King Neptune'
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 colourful certificate from ‘the Office of King Neptune’, a booklet recounting the story of Guinness, a special gold-coloured Guinness Stout label and even instructions on how to turn the bottle into a table lamp.

1929
Gilroy My Goodness My Guinness crocodile poster
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
Inventor of the surge Michael Ash
The launch of an icon

We become the first brewer to employ scientists to help us create the perfect beer. Michael Ash is one such man – he invents Guinness Draught’s distinctive ‘surge and settle’ effect and the world’s first nitro beer. And with a skilful 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
A Guinness brewer at work
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
A photo of Rupert Guinness
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
A photo of chemist Alexander Forbes-Watson
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
A photo of Thomas Bennett Case
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
A Guinness barge
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.

1893
A photo of Thomas Bennett Case
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
A Guinness barge
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
A painting of St James's Gate
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
The Guinness trademark label
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
Barrels being loaded onto a Guinness ship
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
The Guinness Black Velvet cocktail
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
A photo of Sir Benjamin Lee Guinness
Inherited skill

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

1862
The Guinness trademark label
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
Barrels being loaded onto a Guinness ship
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
The Guinness Black Velvet cocktail
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
A photo of Sir Benjamin Lee Guinness
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 favour in Dublin.

1821
A drawing of a man holding a pint of Guinness Superior Porter
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 portrait of Arthur Guinness II
A new heir

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

1799
The Guinness Brewing Book
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 Guinness Recipe
The Beer that Travelled

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

1803
A portrait of Arthur Guinness II
A new heir

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

1799
The Guinness Brewing Book
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 Guinness Recipe
The Beer that Travelled

Fortune favours 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
A drawing of a busy Dublin harbour
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
Arthur Guinness' lease of St James's Gate
The 9000-Year Lease

On the 31st of December 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
A drawing of St James's Gate
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
A portrait of Arthur Guinness
Birth of a brewing legend

Arthur Guinness is born in Celbridge, County Kildare.

1759
Arthur Guinness' lease of St James's Gate
The 9000-Year Lease

On the 31st of December 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
A drawing of St James's Gate
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
A portrait of Arthur Guinness
Birth of a brewing legend

Arthur Guinness is born in Celbridge, County Kildare.