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Guinness is an Irish dry stout that originated in the brewery of Arthur Guinness (1725–1803) at St. James's Gate brewery in the capital city of Dublin, Ireland. Guinness, produced by the Diageo beverages company, is one of the most successful beer brands worldwide. It is brewed in almost 50 countries and is available in over 120. Annual sales total of Guinness in 2011 was 850 million liters (220,000,000 US gal).

Guinness features a burnt flavor that is derived from malted barley and roasted unmalted barley. The use of roasted barley is a relatively modern development, not becoming part of the grist until the mid-20th century. For many years, a portion of aged brew was blended with freshly brewed beer to give a sharp lactic flavor. Although Guinness's palate still features a characteristic "tang", the company has refused to confirm whether this type of blending still occurs. The draught beer's thick, creamy head comes from mixing the beer with nitrogen and carbon dioxide when poured. It is popular with the Irish, both in Ireland and abroad. Despite declining consumption since 2001, it is still the best-selling alcoholic drink in Ireland where Guinness & Co. Brewery makes almost €2 billion worth of the beverage annually.

The company was started in 1759 in Dublin, but had to move its headquarters to London at the beginning of the Anglo-Irish Trade War in 1932. In 1997, Guinness plc merged with Grand Metropolitan to form the multinational alcoholic drinks producer Diageo.

Arthur Guinness started brewing ales in 1759 at the St. James's Gate Brewery, Dublin. On 31 December 1759, he signed a 9,000-year lease at £45 per annum for the unused brewery. Ten years later, on 19 May 1769, Guinness first exported his ale: he shipped six-and-a-half barrels to Great Britain.

There have been claims that Arthur Price, a Welshman, took the original recipe with him to Ireland where he hired a servant, Richard Guinness, whose son later opened the brewery.

"Stout" originally referred to a beer's strength, but eventually shifted meaning toward body and color.

Arthur Guinness started selling the dark beer porter in 1778. The first Guinness beers to use the term were Single Stout and Double Stout in the 1840s. Throughout the bulk of its history, Guinness produced 'only three variations of a single beer type: porter or single stout, double or extra and foreign stout for export'. Porter was also referred to as "plain", as mentioned in the famous refrain of Flann O'Brien's poem "The Workman's Friend": "A pint of plain is your only man."

Already one of the top-three British and Irish brewers, Guinness's sales soared from 350,000 barrels in 1868 to 779,000 barrels in 1876. In October 1886 Guinness became a public company, and was averaging sales of 1,138,000 barrels a year. This was despite the brewery's refusal to either advertise or offer its beer at a discount. Even though Guinness owned no public houses, the company was valued at £6 million and shares were twenty times oversubscribed, with share prices rising to a 60 percent premium on the first day of trading.

The breweries pioneered several quality control efforts. The brewery hired the statistician William Sealy Gosset in 1899, who achieved lasting fame under the pseudonym "Student" for techniques developed for Guinness, particularly Student's t-distribution and the even more commonly known Student's t-test.

By 1900 the brewery was operating unparalleled welfare schemes for its 5,000 employees. By 1907 the welfare schemes were costing the brewery £40,000 a year, which was one-fifth of the total wages bill. The improvements were suggested and supervised by Sir John Lumsden. By 1914, Guinness was producing 2,652,000 barrels of beer a year, which was more than double that of its nearest competitor Bass, and was supplying more than 10 percent of the total UK beer market. In the 1930s, Guinness became the seventh largest company in the world. Before 1939, if a Guinness brewer wished to marry a Catholic, his resignation was requested. Per Thomas Molloy, writing in the Irish Independent, "It had no qualms about selling drink to Catholics but it did everything it could to avoid employing them until the 1960s."

Guinness thought they brewed their last porter in 1973. In the 1970s, following declining sales, the decision was taken to make Guinness Extra Stout more "drinkable". The gravity was subsequently reduced, and the brand was relaunched in 1981. Pale malt was used for the first time, and isomerized hop extract began to be used. In 2014, two new porters were introduced: West Indies Porter and Dublin Porter.

Guinness acquired the Distillers Company in 1986. This led to a scandal and criminal trial concerning the artificial inflation of the Guinness share price during the takeover bid engineered by the chairman, Ernest Saunders. A subsequent £5.2 million success fee paid to an American lawyer and Guinness director, Tom Ward, was the subject of the case Guinness plc v Saunders, in which the House of Lords declared that the payment had been invalid.

In the 1980s, as the IRA's bombing campaign spread to London and the rest of Britain, Guinness considered scrapping the harp as its logo.

The company merged with Grand Metropolitan in 1997 to form Diageo PLC. Due to controversy over the merger, the company was maintained as a separate entity within Diageo and has retained the rights to the product and all associated trademarks of Guinness.

The Guinness Brewery Park Royal during demolition, at its peak the largest and most productive brewery in the world

The Guinness brewery in Park Royal, London closed in 2005. The production of all Guinness sold in the UK and Ireland was moved to St. James's Gate Brewery, Dublin.

Guinness has also been referred to as "the black stuff". Guinness had a fleet of ships, barges and yachts. The Irish Sunday Independent newspaper reported on 17 June 2007 that Diageo intended to close the historic St James's Gate plant in Dublin and move to a greenfield site on the outskirts of the city. This news caused some controversy when it was announced.

The following day, the Irish Daily Mail ran a follow-up story with a double page spread complete with images and a history of the plant since 1759. Initially, Diageo said that talk of a move was pure speculation but in the face of mounting speculation in the wake of the Sunday Independent article, the company confirmed that it is undertaking a "significant review of its operations". This review is largely due to the efforts of the company's ongoing drive to reduce the environmental impact of brewing at the St James's Gate plant.

On 23 November 2007, an article appeared in the Evening Herald, a Dublin newspaper, stating that Dublin City Council, in the best interests of the city of Dublin, had put forward a motion to prevent planning permission ever being granted for development of the site thus making it very difficult for Diageo to sell off the site for residential development.

On 9 May 2008, Diageo announced that the St James's Gate brewery will remain open and undergo renovations, but that breweries in Kilkenny and Dundalk will be closed by 2013 when a new larger brewery is opened near Dublin. The result will be a loss of roughly 250 jobs across the entire Diageo/Guinness workforce in Ireland. Two days later, the Sunday Independent again reported that Diageo chiefs had met with Tánaiste Mary Coughlan, the deputy leader of the Government of Ireland, about moving operations to Ireland from the UK to benefit from its lower corporation tax rates. Several UK firms have made the move to pay Ireland's 12.5 percent rate rather than the UK's 28 percent rate. Diageo released a statement to the London stock exchange denying the report. Despite the merger that created Diageo plc in 1997, Guinness has retained its right to the Guinness brand and associated trademarks and thus continues to trade under the traditional Guinness name despite trading under the corporation name Diageo for a brief period in 1997.

In November 2015, it was announced that Guinness are planning to make their beer suitable for consumption by vegetarians and vegans by the end of 2016 through the introduction of a new filtration process at their existing Guinness Brewery that avoids the need to use Isinglass from fish bladders to filter out yeast particles.

Guinness stout is made from water, barley, roast malt extract, hops, and brewer's yeast. A portion of the barley is roasted to give Guinness its dark color and characteristic taste. It is pasteurized and filtered. Making the product requires knowledge in the sciences of microbiology, mycology, bacteriology, and thermodynamics. Despite its reputation as a "meal in a glass", Guinness only contains 198 kcal (838 kilojoules) per imperial pint (1460 kJ/l), slightly fewer than skimmed milk, orange juice, and most other non-light beers.

Until the late 1950s Guinness was still racked into wooden casks. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Guinness ceased brewing cask-conditioned beers and developed a keg brewing system with aluminum kegs replacing the wooden casks; these were nicknamed "iron lungs". The production of Guinness, as with many beers, also involves the use of isinglass made from fish. Isinglass is used as a fining agent for settling out suspended matter in the vat. The isinglass is retained in the floor of the vat but it is possible that minute quantities might be carried over into the beer.

Draught Guinness and its canned counterpart contain nitrogen (N2) as well as carbon dioxide. Nitrogen is less soluble than carbon dioxide, which allows the beer to be put under high pressure without making it fizzy. High pressure of the dissolved gas is required to enable very small bubbles to be formed by forcing the draught beer through fine holes in a plate in the tap, which causes the characteristic "surge" (the widget in cans and bottles achieves the same effect).  This "widget" is a small plastic ball containing the nitrogen with also just a little beer itself. The perceived smoothness of draught Guinness is due to its low level of carbon dioxide and the creaminess of the head caused by the very fine bubbles that arise from the use of nitrogen and the dispensing method described above. "Foreign Extra Stout" contains more carbon dioxide, causing a more acidic taste.

Contemporary Guinness Draught and Extra Stout are weaker than they were in the 19th century, when they had an original gravity of over 1.070. Foreign Extra Stout and Special Export Stout, with abv of 7.5% and 9% respectively, are perhaps closest to the original in character.

Although Guinness may appear to be black, it is officially a very dark shade of ruby.

Studies claim that Guinness can be beneficial to the heart. Researchers found that "'antioxidant compounds' in the Guinness, like those found in certain fruits and vegetables, are responsible for the health benefits because they slow down the deposit of harmful cholesterol on the artery walls."

Guinness ran an advertising campaign in the 1920s which stemmed from market research – when people told the company that they felt good after their pint, the slogan was born – "Guinness is Good for You". Advertising for alcoholic drinks that implies improved physical performance or enhanced personal qualities is now prohibited in Ireland. Diageo, the company that now manufactures Guinness, says: "We never make any medical claims for our drinks."

Before the 1960s, when Guinness adopted the current system of delivery using a nitrogen/carbon dioxide gas mixture, all beer leaving the brewery was cask-conditioned. Casks newly delivered to many small pubs were often nearly unmanageably frothy, but cellar space and rapid turnover demanded that they be put into use before they could sit for long enough to settle down. Thus, a glass would be part filled with the fresh, frothy beer, allowed to stand a minute, and then topped up with beer from a cask that had been pouring longer and had calmed down a bit. With the move to gas dispense in the 60s, it was felt important to keep the 2 stage pour ritual, in order to bring better customer acceptance of the new process.

What Diageo calls the "perfect pint" of Draught Guinness is the product of a "double pour", which per the company should take 119.5 seconds. Guinness has promoted this wait with advertising campaigns such as "good things come to those who wait". Despite this, Guinness has endorsed the use of "Exactap", marketed by DigitalDispense USA LLC, owned in a trust by its American inventor. The "Exactap" is the fastest beer dispense system in the world and can deliver a perfectly presented Guinness, with no overfilling, in just 4 seconds. There are over 600 "Exactaps" in use in Dublin stadia alone.

The brewer recommends that draught Guinness should be served at 6 °C (42.8 °F), while Extra Cold Guinness should be served at 3.5 °C (38.6 °F).

Per Esquire Magazine, a pint of Guinness should be served in a slightly tulip shaped pint glass (as opposed to the taller European tulip glass or 'Nonic' glass, which contains a ridge approx. 3/4 of the way up the glass). To begin the pour, the server holds the glass at a 45° angle below the tap and fills the glass 3/4 full. On the way, out of the tap, the beer is forced at high speed through a five-hole disc restrictor plate in the end of the tap, creating friction and forcing the creation of small nitrogen bubbles which form a creamy head. After allowing the initial pour to settle, the server fills the remainder of the glass until the head forms a slight dome over the top of the glass.

In April 2010, Guinness redesigned the Guinness pint glass for the first time in a decade. The new glass is taller and narrower than the previous one and features a bevel design. The new glasses are planned to gradually replace the old ones.

When Guinness is poured, the gas bubbles appear to travel downwards in the glass. The effect is attributed to drag; bubbles that touch the walls of a glass are slowed in their travel upwards. Bubbles in the center of the glass are, however, free to rise to the surface, and thus form a rising column of bubbles. The rising bubbles create a current by the entrainment of the surrounding fluid. As beer rises in the center, the beer near the outside of the glass falls. This downward flow pushes the bubbles near the glass towards the bottom. Although the effect occurs in any liquid, it is particularly noticeable in any dark nitrogen stout, as the drink combines dark-colored liquid and light-colored bubbles.

A study published in 2012 revealed that the effect is due to the shape of the glass coupled with the small bubble size found in stout beers. If the vessel widens with height then bubbles will sink along the walls – this is the case for the standard pint glass. Conversely, in an anti-pint (i.e. if the vessel narrows with height) bubbles will rise along the walls.

Guinness is frequently used as an ingredient in recipes, often to add a seemingly authentic Irish element to the menus of Irish-themed pubs in the United States, where it is stirred into everything from French toast to beef stew.

A popular, authentic, Irish course featuring Guinness is the "Guinness and Steak Pie." The recipe includes many common Irish herbs, as well as beef brisket, cheeses, and a can of Guinness.

The Guinness harp motif is modelled on the Trinity College Harp. It was adopted in 1862 by the incumbent proprietor, Benjamin Lee Guinness. Harps have been a symbol of Ireland at least since the reign of Henry VIII. Guinness registered their harp as a trademark shortly after the passing of the Trade Marks Registration Act of 1875. It faces right instead of left, and so can be distinguished from the Irish coat of arms.

A Guinness counter mount and tap in a Johannesburg Pub

Since the 1930s, in the face of falling sales, Guinness has had a long history of marketing campaigns, from television advertisements to beer mats and posters. Before then, Guinness had almost no advertising, instead allowing for word of mouth to sell the product.

Guinness' iconic stature is partly due to its advertising. The most notable and recognizable series of advertisements was created by S.H. Benson's advertising, primarily drawn by the artist John Gilroy, in the 1930s and 1940s. Benson created posters that included phrases such as "Guinness for Strength", "Lovely Day for a Guinness", "Guinness Makes You Strong", "My Goodness My Guinness" (or, alternatively, "My Goodness, My Christmas, It's Guinness!"), and most famously, "Guinness is Good for You". The posters featured Gilroy's distinctive artwork and often featured animals such as a kangaroo, ostrich, seal, lion and notably a toucan, which has become as much a symbol of Guinness as the harp. (An advertisement from the 1940s ran with the following jingle: "Toucans in their nests agree/Guinness is good for you/Try some today and see/What one or toucan do.") Dorothy L. Sayers and Bobby Bevan copywriters at Benson's also worked on the campaign; a biography of Sayers notes that she created a sketch of the toucan and wrote several of the adverts in question. Guinness advertising paraphernalia, notably the pastiche booklets illustrated by Ronald Ferns, attract high prices on the collectible market.

Many of the best-known Guinness television commercials of the 1970s and 1980s were created by British director, Len Fulford.

In 1983, a conscious marketing decision was made to turn Guinness into a "cult" beer in the UK, amidst declining sales. The move halted the sales decline. The Guardian described the management of the brand:"they've spent years now building a brand that's in complete opposition to cheap lagers, session drinking and crowds of young men boozing in bars. They've worked very hard to help Guinness drinkers picture themselves as twinkly-eyed, Byronic bar-room intellectuals, sitting quietly with a pint and dreaming of poetry and impossibly lovely redheads running barefoot across the peat. You have a pint or two of Guinness with a slim volume of Yeats, not eight mates and a 19-pint bender which ends in tattoos, A&E and herpes from a hen party."

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, in the UK, there was a series of "darkly" humorous adverts, featuring actor Rutger Hauer, with the theme "Pure Genius", extolling its qualities in brewing and target market.

The 1994–1995 Anticipation campaign, featuring actor Joe McKinney dancing to "Guaglione" by Perez Prado while his pint settled, became a legend in Ireland and put the song to number one in the charts for several weeks. The advertisement was also popular in the UK where the song reached number two.

In 2000, Guinness' 1999 advertisement "Surfer" was named the best television commercial of all time, in a UK poll conducted by The Sunday Times and Channel 4. This advertisement is inspired by the famous 1980s Guinness TV and cinema ad, "Big Wave", centered on a surfer riding a wave while a bikini-clad sun bather takes photographs. The 1980s advertisement not only remained a popular iconic image; it also entered the Irish cultural memory through inspiring a well-known line in Christy Moore's song "Delirium Tremens" (1985). "Surfer" was produced by the advertising agency Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO; the advertisement can be downloaded from their website.

Guinness won the 2001 Clio Award as the Advertiser of the Year, citing the work of five separate ad agencies around the world.

In 2003, the Guinness TV campaign featuring Tom Crean won the gold Shark Award at the International Advertising Festival of Ireland, while in 2005 their Irish Christmas campaign won a silver Shark. This TV ad has been run every Christmas since its debut in December 2004 and features pictures of snow falling in places around Ireland, evoking the James Joyce story "The Dead", finishing at St. James's Gate Brewery with the line: "Even at the home of the black stuff they dream of a white one".

Their UK commercial "noitulovE", first broadcast in October 2005, was the most-awarded commercial worldwide in 2006. In it, three men drink a pint of Guinness, then begin to both walk and evolve backward. Their "reverse evolution" passes through an ancient Homo sapiens, a monkey, a flying lemur, a pangolin, an ichthyosaur, and a velociraptor, until finally settling on a mud skipper drinking dirty water, which then expresses its disgust at the taste of the stuff, followed by the line: "Good Things Come to Those Who Wait". This was later modified to have a different ending to advertise Guinness Extra Cold, often shown as "break bumpers" at the beginning and end of commercial breaks. The second endings show either the Homo sapiens being suddenly frozen in a block of ice, the ichthyasaurs being frozen while swimming, or the pool of muddy water freezing over as the mud skipper takes a sip, freezing his tongue to the surface.

Two further advertisements in 2006 and early 2007, "Hands" and "St. Patrick's Hands", were created by animator Michael Schlingmann for Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO. They feature a pair of hands, animated in stop motion under a rostrum camera. "Hands" focuses on the 119.53 seconds it takes to pour a pint, and "St. Patrick's Hands is a spoof of River dance, with the animated hands doing the dancing.

Guinness' 2007 advertisement, directed by Nicolai Fuglsig and filmed in Argentina, is entitled "Tipping Point". It involves a large-scale domino chain reaction and, with a budget of £10m, was the most expensive advertisement by the company at that point.

The 2000s also saw a series of television advertisements, entitled "Brilliant!" in which two crudely animated Guinness brew masters would discuss the beer, particularly the ability to drink it straight from the bottle. The two would almost always react to their discoveries with the catchphrase "Brilliant!", hence the campaign's title.

In 2009, the "To Arthur" advertisement, which started with two friends realizing the company's long history, hail each other by lifting their glasses and saying: "to Arthur!". The hailing slowing spread throughout the bar to the streets outside, and finally around the world. The advertisement ends with the voiceover: "Join the worldwide celebration, of a man named Arthur".

This gave rise to the event now known as Arthur's Day. "Arthur's Day is a series of events and celebrations taking place around the world to celebrate the life and legacy of Arthur Guinness and the much-loved Guinness beer which Arthur brought to the world." It took place for the third time at 17:59 on 22 September 2011.

In 2006, sales of Guinness in Ireland and the United Kingdom declined 7 percent. Despite this, Guinness still accounts for more than a quarter of all beer sold in Ireland. By 2015, sales were on the rise in Ireland but flat globally.

Guinness began retailing in India in 2007.

Guinness has a significant share of the African beer market, where it has been sold since 1827. About 40 percent of worldwide total Guinness volume is brewed and sold in Africa, with Foreign Extra Stout the most popular variant. Three of the five Guinness-owned breweries worldwide are in Africa, The Michael Power advertising campaign was a critical success for Guinness in Africa, running for nearly a decade before being replaced in 2006 with "Guinness Greatness".

The beer is brewed under license internationally in several countries, including Nigeria, the Bahamas, Canada, Cameroon, Kenya, Uganda, South Korea, Namibia, and Indonesia. The unfermented but hopped Guinness wort extract is shipped from Dublin and blended with beer brewed locally.

The UK is the only sovereign state to consume more Guinness than Ireland. The third-largest Guinness drinking nation is Nigeria, followed by the USA; the United States consumed more than 950,000 hectoliters of Guinness in 2010.

The Guinness Storehouse is a popular tourist attraction at St. James's Gate Brewery in Dublin, where a self-guided tour includes an account of the ingredients used to make the stout and a description of how it is made. Visitors can sample the smells of each Guinness ingredient in the Tasting Rooms, which are colored with a unique lighting design that emits Guinness' gold and black branding. A pint of Guinness is offered which the visitor may pour after a demonstration by one of the staff. There are videos showing how Guinness is tested by a panel of tasters, and the visitor is instructed in tasting the beer. The tour includes such items as the historical coopering trade within Guinness, a section dedicated to advertising and merchandising by Guinness, and a section dedicated to historical artifacts and footage relating to Guinness. The tour finishes with a pint of Guinness (if it has not already been drunk at one of the other bars) in the Gravity Bar. Two other bars, a coffee shop and a restaurant, are available to visitors during the tour, and a range of Guinness merchandise is available to purchase.

The Guinness Book of Records started as a Guinness marketing giveaway, based on an idea of its then Managing Director, Sir Hugh Beaver. Its holding company, Guinness World Records Ltd, was owned by Guinness plc, subsequently Diageo, until 2001.

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