Imagine opening a small coffee shop—your first ever business—and deciding to sign a 9,000 year lease on the space. Some would call that bravado, others sheer insanity, but that’s exactly what Arthur Guinness did on December 31, 1759 when he opened his first brewery in a dilapidated area at St. James Gate in Dublin (the least cost 45 pounds a year). We don’t know exactly what he was thinking, but it’s clear he was quite optimistic for the future.
What kind of beer was Arthur brewing? Initially, it was just light Dublin ales, but soon he was making a “porter”—so named because supposedly street and river porters loved it. The porter beer was characterized by a rich, dark color due to the roasted barley used. Soon, the Guinness brewery was thriving. Things really took off about a decade later when its first export shipment of six and a half beer barrels of Guinness Extra Stout Porter was sent to England. In 1817, the first American shipment successfully arrived in the young United States. By 1882, Guinness had produced over one million barrels of stout. By the end of the century, it was the largest brewery in the world. The Guinness brand kept expanding and today owns breweries in Europe, Asia and Africa.
Why has the brand been so successful and endured all these years? Many think it’s because of the Guinness family devotion to the brand, and their unfailing reputation for only using materials of the highest caliber and never skimping on quality.
Arthur Guinness, and his three sons who took over the business, developed a brand that was reliably delicious. High quality isn’t the only determining factor for centuries-long popularity: the Guinness brand was incredibly astute at marketing as well, although they waited until 1794 to publish the first ad! The renowned Guinness Book of World Records came about in the early 1950’s when the Brewery’s Managing Director Hugh Beaver attended a shooting party, and got into an argument about the fastest game bird in Europe.
There was no kind of reference book for settling the argument (and no internet!) so Beaver got the idea of a Guinness promotional book for settling pub arguments.The book quickly became a massive hit and the world records are still happening over half a century later.
Even more clever marketing happened in the 1930’s when sales were falling and Guinness hired the S.H. Benson advertising firm to brainstorm some witty and engaging ads. Almost a hundred years later, people can still quote the tagline they came up with—“Guinness is good for you”—and recognize the iconic zoo animal campaign of the ‘30’s, featuring an adorable toucan, lion, bear, turtle, and more!
Guinness is no longer the largest brewery in the world, but it remains the largest brewer of stout on the planet! The name is synonymous with Dublin, Ireland, and St. Patrick’s Day, and the brand’s ventures into merchandise and apparel are incredibly successful since they still exercise the same great quality control they have been known for since 1759. We at Shamrock Gift are proud to host the largest collection of Guinness Merchandise on the web.