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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Lager Library: Guinness: The 250-Year Quest for the Perfect Pint

Beer has been flowing from St. James's Gate in Dublin since 1759. Guinness: The 250-Year Quest for the Perfect Pint by Bill Yenne traces the amazing history of this brewing giant and how its iconic stout became a national symbol of Ireland.

Yenne, the author of more than 40 books, is a fan of what he calls the "World's Greatest Beer." In the book (Wiley, 250 pgs., $24.95) he showcases how Arthur Guinness parlayed a small inheritance and a marriage into an established Dublin family to build the roots of a brewing powerhouse. Guinness became hugely popular domestically and abroad, now being sold in more than 150 countries.

The book gives an in-depth history of Guinness along with facts on the personal and political lives of the main corporate characters. For instance, in 1761, Arthur Guinness, 36, married Olivia Whitmore, 19. The couple would have 10 children and Oliva would suffer 11 miscarriages.

Yenne also details the marketing story behind Guinness. In one chapter he discusses the 1994 "Win Your Own Pub" promotion that ran in the U.S. I was lucky enough to be a guest journalist on a Guinness-sponsored trip to Cobh in County Cork to see Jay Mulligan of Boston win the first pub in what was an annual contest for most of the rest of the 1990s. PROMO magazine named the contest as one of the most significant promotions ever held.

If you enjoy Guinness, this book should certainly be on your reading list.


Stonch said...

Diageo would like people to believe that Arthur Guinness was brewing dark stouts back in the 18th century. He wasn't. However, history should never be allowed to interfere with the marketing efforts of a huge multinational.

Zythophile said...

"in 1761, Sir Arthur Guinness, 36, married Olivia Whitmore, 19."

I hope tghe book doesn't say that - Arthur Guinness I was never given a knighthood.

Probably the most influential Guinness was Arthur I's son, the Reverend Hosea, who wrote the book that inspired Arthur Balfour to issue the Balfour declaration of 1917, which led to Jewish settlement in Palestine and, subsequently, the founding of the state of Israel ...

Anonymous said...

Another reason to dislike the Guinness family then.