Arthur Guinness

Arthur Guinness - Domaine Public
Arthur Guinness - Domaine Public

Arthur Guinness (1725-1803) is an Irishman who was at the origin of the Guinness brewery. Brilliant businessman, and considered as the greatest brewer of Ireland, he was during his existence at the head of a financial empire which still persists today, and which deeply marked the Irish culture as well as the Irish national identity…

Biography of Arthur Guinness

Arthur Guinness founded the first brewery in 1755…

La Saint Jame's Gate - Giuseppe Milo - cc

La Saint Jame’s Gate – Giuseppe Milo – cc

Born in September 1725 in Celbridge, Ireland, Arthur Guinness grew up in a rather wealthy family, where his father was the land steward for the Archbishop of Cashel, Dr Arthur Price.

He soon began to dream of founding his own company. After his father’s death in 1752, he bought the lease of his very first brewery in Leixlip.

The latter is then animated by deep ideals: at the time, Arthur Guinness is convinced that it is necessary to act to save the Irish society. For him, alcohol in Ireland was a major problem: the gin produced in 1750 would be of poor quality and would destroy the working classes, contaminating families and exposing everyone to the risks of alcoholism and increased poverty.

Arthur Guinness had the ambition to democratize the access to better quality alcohol: less strong and more tasty. For him, gin is an alcohol to be eradicated… in favor of beer!

That’s why his first brewery offers beers made from quality ingredients… sold at reasonable prices in Irish pubs… A first step at the time to reverse the trend, and oust the evils of bad gins!

The success was immediate, and in 1756, he bought another building adjacent to the first one to make it a place of administrative management of his activities.

Everything seemed to smile to the Irish entrepreneur: his Leixlip beers were acclaimed in the whole region and his reputation as a brewer even exceeded the borders of the county!

Full of ambition, Arthur Guinness decided not to stop there, and turned his attention to the city of Dublin… The place where his real story begins!

Irish brewer decides to launch a second brewery in Dublin

Arthur Guinness - Domaine Public

Arthur Guinness – Domaine Public

From his early experiences, Arthur learned of the existence of an old disused brewery in Dublin, located in the southwest of the city, known as “St. James’s Gate Brewery”.

From that moment on, the entrepreneur was convinced of the building’s potential and decided, at the age of 34, to buy the brewery!

The acquisition cost is far from being exorbitant: he even manages to negotiate a 9,000 year lease, with an annual rent of £45… (The anecdote is so unusual, that it is still widely relayed today by the inhabitants of Dublin, and the local museums like the Guinness Storehouse!)

From then on, Arthur decided to think big: he bought a lot of copper tanks, stills, and other materials necessary to create his own beer. He recruited a few employees and decided to go for it!

But the brewer has a very specific goal: he wants to create an original and never seen stout! A typically Irish beer, brown, strong in taste and alcohol, using roasted barley and malt…

A beer never seen before, but which would be the flagship of Irish brewing know-how!

After several attempts and trials, the young man finally achieved a satisfactory result, which he named after himself: “Guinness Beer”.

Atypical of the beers of the time, Guinness beer is presented in sobriety, with a mysterious black dress, topped by a thick white and creamy foam.

Its aromas, slightly caramelized are heightened by bitter notes… Flavors full of character, which are immediately appreciated in the Irish pubs of Dublin…

The success is from then on at the appointment! And it takes only a few years for Arthur Guinness to distribute his barrels in all Ireland… before exporting his beer for the first time in England in 1769 !

Arthur Guinness takes over an unprecedented empire…

A pint of Guinness - © venge

A pint of Guinness – © venge

Over the years, Arthur Guinness’s beer has grown more and more, producing more and more barrels, and facing an exponential demand…

The regulars of the local pubs order almost daily a stout from the St. James’s Gate Brewery: enough to allow the brewer to get rich quickly!

In the 1780’s and 1790’s, the Irish entrepreneur continued to militate in favor of access for all Irish people to quality alcohol. Always in “war” against gin and other too strong drinks which he considers boring and impoverishing, he militates at the sides of the politician Henry Grattan, who fights to reduce the taxation on beer.

Arthur Guinness is a visionary: he knows that his success depends on the democratization of beer in Ireland. The more he anchored beer in the customs, the better his chances to settle down durably…

However, it is in the last years of his life that Arthur Guinness will launch a new challenge: that of creating an absolutely perfect Porter beer! He then devoted all his energy to the elaboration of what will become the most famous and emblematic beer of his brewery: the Guinness Stout!

It was released for the very first time in 1799, and its fame spread throughout Ireland and England.

It is precisely this beer that still exists today, and makes the whole cultural and gastronomic reputation of Ireland!

Very quickly, the brewery runs like clockwork: the installations are constantly modernized and the production adapts to the increasing demands…

The success goes beyond the borders of Ireland, and the Irish beer ends up being exported all over the world!

When he died, Arthur Guinness was at the head of a dizzying empire. Particularly rich, he died on January 23, 1803, leaving his family an unprecedented legacy, which continues to this day…

In the XXIst century, Guinness still occupies a place of first rank whether in Ireland or in the rest of the world. The brewery is at the head of a 250 year old economic empire, and has become the almost sacred symbol of a whole country…

Guinness is not only a drink consumed daily by the Irish (more than one million pints are sold every day!), but it has also become a national and cultural symbol… We defy you to find an Irish person in Ireland who does not know this famous stout and its logo with its characteristic harp!

In the collective imagination, the Irish remain strongly attached to the memory of Arthur Guinness. He is the vibrant symbol of Irish economic success, proof that any spirit of initiative in Ireland can be rewarded by success!