During a fleeting visit to the Irish capital, we brushed up on the history of Ireland’s famous stout with a tour of the impressive and sprawling Guinness Factory.
Instantly recognizable across the globe, Guinness is no one-trick-pint. The promotion of this simple drink has showcased some of the finest advertising of the past two centuries. Slogans such as ‘My Goodness, My Guinness!’ and ‘Guinness is good for you!’ have helped to secure Guinness’ place as one of the great brands of the world.
Yet the Guinness brand is so much more than just a money-maker. It’s a way of thinking that has made its mark on the lives of people from every demographic. Like the Cadburys and Rowntrees of industrial England, the company offered unrivalled welfare benefits to its employees. The Guinness family numbers politicians, scientists, ambassadors, missionaries, bankers, churchmen and statesmen as members of its clan, in addition to the garden designers, fashionistas and aristocrats that we read about in the press today. The Guinnesses are truly one of the great philanthropic families of the age.
At Redwood we’re used to working with long-term leaseholders, but we all agreed that the 9,000 year lease founder Arthur Guinness signed on the 4-acre St James’ Gate site in 1759 takes commitment and forward-planning to a new level. Guinness’ ability to take well-calculated risks, embrace new technologies and expand at a sustainable rate, whilst never compromising on the principles that set it apart at its foundation, is an example to us all.
The tour concluded in the Gravity Bar at the top of the remarkable pint-shaped Guinness storehouse. More used to drinking tea by the pint in our SW1 office, it was certainly a new experience, but not an unpleasant one. Looking out over the changing face of Dublin, steam rising from the brewery below that has been producing Guinness for 250 years, glass in hand, it was impossible not to feel content. And yes, Guinness definitely tastes even better in Dublin.
Perhaps it’s something in the hops or in the water at St James’ Gate, or perhaps it’s in the can-do mentality and pride in the product, that has set Guinness apart as a market leader for over two centuries. Whatever it is, we should be thankful. Thankful for a company that models how to adapt without undermining itself. Thankful for a family whose philanthropy and contributions have changed the lives of millions. And thankful for a drink, a stout to be precise, that remains one of the best loved beers in the world. Cheers Guinness.