It's no secret to anyone that knows me that I love Guinness. Not "enjoys". Not "prefers". Not even "partial to". I love it. I once drank Guinness with serious intent for 16 hours straight. It was the only time in my imbibing history that I actually drank myself sober, and I woke up the next day ready to take on the world. Damn near every one of the sketches that defined my 15 years living the dream in Hollywood were written sitting at a table at the windowless and super legit Ireland's 32 in the San Fernando Valley, at least 6 pints deep in the Black Stuff. I've drank it, cooked with it, and on a number of occasions washed with it. It's more than beer, it's an institution. And to prove it, here are 5 awesome facts about the beer that I love more than most other things. Even more than tacos.
1. The Guinness brewery is on a 9,000 year lease.
In 1752, the Archbishop of Cashel, Arthur Price, died. Not much is recorded of how or why this happened, but what history does tell us is that he was the godfather of one Arthur Guinness. Archbishop Price bequeathed £100 to Arthur Guinness, which he used to start a brewery in a small town in Kildare called Leixlip in 1756. Arthur Guinness ran this brewery with his brother until 1759 when he took his share and his experience to Dublin. On December 31, 1759, Arthur Guinness signed a lease for the abandoned St. James Gate property in Dublin. The lease was for an unbelievable 9,000 years (seriously, who's the Industrial Era Irish realtor that thought that was reasonable?), with a yearly payment of £45. To put that in perspective, Guinness has a yearly cost for their brewery property of around $64...for another 8,743 years. And no, those aren't 1759 dollars. It's a lease. It doesn't change with inflation. Guinness pays its yearly lease literally within seconds every year, because...
2. Two billion pints of Guinness are sold every year.
Two billion. Billion. With a "b". Guinness is exported to 150 countries, and between all of them, two billion pints are sold, and presumably consumed. Every year. Without fail. Here in the US, we're no slouch when it comes to drinking the Black Stuff as we guzzle over 167 million pints every year. The British are the only sovereign nation to consume more Guinness than Ireland and in Ireland, a full quarter of all beer sold is Guinness.
3. Guinness' yearly Arthur's Day celebration had to be cancelled due to success
On September 23, 2009, Guinness held the first Arthur's Day, celebrating the 250th Anniversary of Guinness. The event promoted a toast "To Arthur!" at 5:59pm (17:59, the year Guinness was established) and included music events and special television broadcasts around the world. The promotion was a great success, so Guinness continued the tradition annually. The problem was, it was too damn successful. In the UK alone, over 1 million pints of Guinness were sold on Arthur's Day every year. Which sounds great, but the Royal College of Physicians Ireland highlighted a 30% increase in ambulance call-outs for each successive Arthur's Day. Also troubling was a report that alchohol-related liver ailments had seen a doubling versus the previous decade. This is why we can't have nice things. Guinness celebrated the last Arthur's Day in 2013.
4. Guinness has less calories than orange juice.
With everyone drinking so much Guinness, it's a damn good thing that it's actually healthy. A pint of orange juice is 224 calories. That's 16 ounces at around 14 calories per ounce. However, 16 ounces of the Best Damn Stout on Earth is only 166 calories, around 10 calories per ounce. Drinking Bud Light to help stave off that beer gut? Guinness is only 1.23 more calories per ounce than Bud Light. Step up to the big boys' table.
5. It takes exactly 119.5 seconds to pour the perfect pint.
Pouring a Guinness is a ritual. Following this ritual precisely, which takes 119.5 seconds exactly, will yield the best Guinness possible. Guinness' brewmaster is Fergal Murray (pictured left), and he has made it his life's mission to ensure that bartenders are treating Guinness with the respect it deserves. Respect on a level that would normally be reserved for religious ceremonies, which for many it is *cough*me*cough*. And this isn't just marketing mumbo jumbo. I once went on a date with an Irish girl and took her to my home pub Irelands 32. She had to have a taste of my Guinness to ensure it was properly poured before she would order one of her own. Which is not a problem at the 32, because everyone there feels the same way about Guinness.
So what are the six steps? Picture this being said by an Irish guy:
- The glass: "The bartender takes a dry, clean glass, which should be a 20-ounce tulip pint glass. The internal aerodynamics of a tulip glass allows the nitrogen bubbles to flow down the sides of the glass, and the contour 'bump' in the middle pushes the bubbles back to the center on their way up."
- The angle: "The glass should be held at a 45-degree angle under the tap. The tap faucet should not touch the tulip glass or beer. If you just hold it straight under the faucet, you'll get a big block of bubbles and a fish eye."
- The pour: "Let the beer flow nice and smoothly into the angled glass and fill it up three-quarters of the way."
- The head: "Let it settle. On the way through the faucet, the beer passes through a five-hole disk restrictor plate at a high speed, creating friction and bringing out nitrogen bubbles. The bubbles are agitated now -- they can't go back into the solution, so they flow down the interior sides and back up the middle -- but they can't escape. So they build this wonderful, creamy head on top. It's like an architect building a strong foundation."
- The top off: "Once it settles, you want to fill up the glass and top it off. You allowed it to settle, you created a domed effect across the top of the pint, and now your head is looking proud over the glass. That's the perfect vision of the perfect pint."
- The first sip: "You drink with your eyes first. The cosmetic look of the pint is critical to the Guinness experience. We don't want anybody just putting liquid in a glass. And finally, drink responsibly."
Make sure to hold your bartenders accountable!
BONUS FACT: The Irish government couldn't trademark the Irish harp because Guinness had already done it
The harp has been Guinness' emblem since 1862, when it was on the very first bottle of Guinness made. It's based on the famous 14th century "O'Neill" or "Brian Boru" harp. Guinness went on to trademark the harp 14 years later in 1876. This harp is also the official national emblem of the Republic of Ireland, but when the Irish Free State Government of 1922 tried to trademark it, they were denied. In order to get their trademark, the Government had to turn the harp the other way in order to differentiate it from Guinness' emblem. So there you have it, Guinness is more Irish than even Ireland.
Wylie Withers is the Commissioner of the Booze League and Co-Host of the BoozeCast. He spent many years as 1/3 of the comedy improv duo The Merry Misfits of Doom before pursing a Masters in Boozing (with a Marketing focus). His posterior was featured on the final episode of Beverly Hills, 90210, earning him his SAG card. He'd like to give a shoutout to his liver and left kidney for always being there for him. Follow him on Twitter @wyliewithers or reach him via email email@example.com.