Historic Beer Birthday: Arthur Guinness II

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Though his father’s birthdate is uncertain, today is definitely the birthday of Arthur Guinness II (March 12, 1768-June 9, 1855).

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Here’s his story, from Wikipedia:

Arthur was the second son of Arthur Guinness and his wife Olivia Whitmore, and was born at their home at Beaumont House (now a part of Beaumont Hospital, Dublin). He attended White’s Academy in Grafton Street, Dublin, (now the site of Bewley’s). Arthur started working for his father at the St James’s Gate brewery from the 1780s. In 1790 his father, then aged 65, commented in a letter that the expansion of his brewery was partly due to his help:

“..one of my sons is grown up to be able to assist me in this Business, or I wd not have attempted it, tho’ prompted by a demand of providing for Ten Children now living out of one & twenty born to us, & more likely yet to come.”

On his marriage to Anne Lee in 1793 the lease of the brewery was assigned to their marriage settlement, proof that he was intended to take over the management of the brewery on his father’s death. At the time his younger brothers Benjamin (d.1826) and William (d.1842) were also working in the brewery.

In 1782 his father had also founded the “Hibernian Mills” beside the River Camac in Kilmainham to mill flour for the expanding city’s population. This was due to the expansion of Irish exports and commerce fostered from 1779 by the Irish Patriot Party, which the Guinnesses supported.

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On his father’s death in January 1803, he and his brothers Benjamin and William Lunell created a partnership trading as: “A. B. & W.L. Guinness & Co, brewers and flour millers”. He bought Beaumont House from his elder brother the Revd. Hosea Guinness, who was Rector of St. Werburgh’s Church, Dublin. In 1808 they bought their first steam engine from Boulton and Watt for pumping water.

Sales grew from 360,936 gallons in 1800 to 2,133,504 gallons by 1815. A slump followed, with sales dropping from 66,000 barrels to 27,000 by 1820.

From its rebuilding in 1797–99 the brewery had stopped brewing ale and concentrated on porter. From the 1820s enhanced and stronger varieties of porter known as “Extra Superior Porter” or “Double Stout” were developed in Dublin for the export trade to Britain. By 1837 the young Benjamin Disraeli mentioned that he had: “.. supped at the Carlton.. off oysters, Guinness and broiled bones”.

In the background Arthur’s brewery benefited hugely until the 1830s from the difference between the malt tax levied in Britain and Ireland, easing his higher-value exports to Britain, and so Arthur became more of a supporter of the union as it was in the 1830s, having been a supporter of Grattan’s form of home rule in his youth.

In 1839 Guinness assisted his nephew John in establishing a short-lived brewery in Bristol.

By his death in 1855, St James’s Gate was brewing and selling 78,000 hogsheads annually, equivalent to 4,212,000 gallons. Of these, 42,000 hogsheads were exported, mainly to the British market.

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Historic Beer Birthday: Arthur Guinness

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Today might be, though it probably isn’t, the birthday of Arthur Guinness (March 12, 1724-January 23, 1803). But this is as good a day as any, and in some ways better than many others have suggested. I’ve been collecting holidays, dates, birthdays, etc. since the late 1970s. I bought a cocktail paperback book and in the back, one of the appendices had four reasons to drink for every day of the year. Intrigued, I bought a thin diary and started writing them down as I came across new ones. When I outgrew that one, I bought a bigger one and hand-copied all of them from one to the other. Thank goodness computers came along so I didn’t have to keep that up. To save space, everything was color-coded and I never noted the original source, primarily because in those early days it was just something goofy I did for myself and I didn’t envision any practical application for such a list. Silly rabbit. Fast forward thirty years and the first website I set up, in 1998, was The Daily Globe, which was to house my collection of dates, among other things. It was then it became apparent that having the original sources would have been useful, but the damage was done. At some point I stumbled on the birthdate of Arthur Guinness, given as a day in September. Several years ago, after the Bulletin started, I ran my daily list as a matter of course on the date I had for Arthur Guinness’ birthdate, and got called out by the Beer Nut for the source of the date. Of course, I had not been keeping them but have always taken the position that it’s better to celebrate the person’s life even if you don’t have the exact right date than ignore them entirely. I’m pretty sure that, and for a couple of other reasons to do with my lack of vigorous research in matters of ephemera (a misquoted Simpsons line caused great consternation), is why he doesn’t much care for me. C’est la vie.

Eventually, I got around to trying to find that earlier source, and in the process opened a can of worms. That September date is more than likely wrong, of course, and was simply made up in 1991 by the Guinness company “apparently to end speculation about his birthdate,” as if that would do any good. That’s probably where I got the date, but since I didn’t keep my sources, who knows? In 2009, Guinness decided to declare September 24 “Arthur’s Day” further muddying the waters. The first year was to mark the 250th anniversary of Guinness, but in subsequent years it became a music festival and opportunity to do a worldwide toast to promote the beer. They kept up that farce on the 3rd Thursday in September each year until 2013, but cancelled it in 2014. So clearly September is a dead end.

In 2012, my favorite British beer historian, Martyn Cornell, weighed in on Guinness myths and scandals, including the date of his birth.

Arthur Guinness was born in 1725 in Celbridge, County Kildare.” The Dictionary of Irish Biography claims he was born on March 12, 1725. However, that does not match the statement on Arthur Guinness’s grave in Oughterard, Kildare that he died on January 23, 1803 “aged 78 years”, from which it can be inferred that his birthday must have been between January 24, 1724 and January 23, 1725. The most accurate statement, therefore is that his date of birth is unknown, but he was born 1724/5.

Here’s his gravestone:

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So if March 12, 1725 can’t be correct, but it must be “between January 24, 1724 and January 23, 1725,” then maybe it was 1724. So for no better reason than it fits the span of dates, maybe The Dictionary of Irish Biography simply got the year wrong by one. Maybe not, but I like having a date to hang my hat on. So until I find something more compelling, and merely for the purposes of commemoration, I’ll toast Arthur Guinness on March 12.

Arthur Guinness, of course, founded the Guinness Brewery in 1759, famously signing a 9,000-year lease for the St. James’ Gate property in Dublin. Shortly afterwards, in 1761, “he married Olivia Whitmore in St. Mary’s Church, Dublin, and they had 21 children, 10 of whom lived to adulthood.”

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The Colson Center, a Christian website, has a short biography:

Arthur Guinness was born to a family of brewers on the estate of Arthur Price, the Protestant Church of Ireland archbishop of Cashel. Arthur’s father Richard was Dr. Price’s brewer, and was known for his particularly fine porter beer. He taught Arthur the craft of brewing.

Arthur must have been a particular favorite of Dr. Price, because on the archbishop’s death in 1752 he bequeathed to Arthur the sum of £100, the equivalent of four years wages. Over the following three years, he perfected his skills as the brewer for an inn owned by his stepmother. In 1755, he struck out his own, purchasing a small brewery in the village of Leixlip. He may have seen brewing beer as a service to the community: this was the era in which gin was devastating poor communities and beer provided a far healthier and less intoxicating alternative.

In 1759, Arthur moved to Dublin. There he found an abandoned brewery at St. James’ Gate, for rent for £100 down and £45 per year. Arthur somehow managed to get the owner to agree to a lease for up to 9,000 years on these terms, and so Arthur opened his new brewery in Dublin.

Arthur was a very dedicated member of the Church of Ireland. In Dublin, he attended a church in which John Wesley preached, and Wesley’s ideas about hard work, the goodness and responsibilities of wealth, and the importance of caring for the poor had a powerful impact on Arthur’s faith.

As a result, Arthur became involved in a variety of social welfare organizations. He was on the board and became governor of Meath hospital and was dedicated to ensuring that it provided care for the poor. He also gave to a number of charities, promoted Gaelic arts to encourage pride in the Irish heritage, and joined the Friendly Brothers of St. Patrick, an organization dedicated to ending the practice of dueling.

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He was also a champion of the Sunday School movement in Ireland, which provided basic education to children. For Arthur, this was part of an interest in prison reform: he believed that education combined with Biblical teaching would keep people from falling into a life of crime.

Even though a dedicated Protestant in a community that looked down at Roman Catholics, Guinness advocated for the rights of Catholics and treated them well at his brewery. This may have cost him business, but he believed it was the right thing to do.

Meanwhile, Guinness continued to develop and improve as a brewer. In 1779, he was named official brewer of Dublin Castle. At this point, he was brewing ales as well as a variety of dark porters.

Gradually, though, he decided to specialize in porter; he finally gave up brewing ale in 1799. Porter was very popular in England, and when Arthur and his fellow Irish brewers finally figured out how to produce a good quality black porter (stout), specializing in this kind of beer made sense. Soon Guinness’s porter was in demand not only in Dublin but increasingly in England as well.

Arthur died just a few years later, in 1803. But his story does not end there. Over the next century, Guinness grew to be one of the largest and most respected breweries in the world. That story is a tribute to Arthur’s hard work and insistence on excellence, qualities which he passed on to his children and heirs. But that is only part of the Guinness story. The other part is the amount of good Guinness has done for its employees and their families and for Dublin, all of which is also part of Arthur’s legacy.

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And here’s another bio:

The Guinness story began in a small Irish village Celbridge, which was the home of Arthur Price, the Church of Ireland Archbishop of Cashel with a sufficient security. Arthur was one of those people who did not want to burden himself with a daily routine, and therefore he had hired Arthur Guinness (1724 or 1725 – January 23, 1803), a manager for all the cases. As time passed a very real friendship ensued between them to the point that Price baptized Arthur’s son Arthur Guinness II, born on March 12, 1768, who helped his father since childhood on the farm of the generous employer.

In his spare time, Arthur Guinness brewed real ale. Dr. Price had a benefit of all necessary equipment at his basement for this. In 1752, Arthur Price died. Such a tragic event, however, marked the beginning of Guinness brewing company’s story. The thing is that Arthur Price left a legacy of 100 pounds to both of them: Arthur Guinness and his son (at the time it was quite a large sum of money).

Guinness story began in a small Irish village Celbridge, which was the home of Arthur Price, the Church of Ireland Archbishop of Cashel with a sufficient security. Arthur was one of those people who did not want to burden himself with a daily routine, and therefore he had hired Arthur Guinness (1724 or 1725 – January 23, 1803), a manager for all the cases. As time passed a very real friendship ensued between them to the point that Price baptized Arthur’s son Arthur Guinness II, born on March 12, 1768, who helped his father since childhood on the farm of the generous employer.

In his spare time, Arthur Guinness brewed real ale. Dr. Price had a benefit of all necessary equipment at his basement for this. In 1752, Arthur Price died. Such a tragic event, however, marked the beginning of Guinness brewing company’s story. The thing is that Arthur Price left a legacy of 100 pounds to both of them: Arthur Guinness and his son (at the time it was quite a large sum of money).

However, all this time, Arthur continued to produce the same ale. Arthur Guinness started producing the dark beer only in 1799. The production of the dark beer with creamy foam originated in 1799 that further made the company one of the symbols of Ireland. Four years later after this momentous event, at age of 78, Arthur Guinness died. As a legacy to their children businessman left 25,000 pounds, which by today’s standards would amount to about 865,000 pounds.

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Patent No. 3227557A: Continuous Fermentation Process With Sedimentable Microorganisms

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Today in 1966, US Patent 3227557 A was issued, an invention of Michael Edward Ash, assigned to Guinness Son & Co. Ltd., for his “Continuous Fermentation Process with Sedimentable Microorganisms.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes this summary:

This invention relates in general to continuous fermentation systems of the kind in which liquid suspensions comprising a dispersion of said fermentable micro-organisms in a liquid substrate of relatively lower specific gravity, are caused to flow through a fermenting vessel or series of vessels.

More specifically, the invention is concerned with a method and apparatus for controlling the relative degree of concentration of micro-organism in substrate as between any two or all of the stages: inflow, vessel and outflow.

In particular, the invention has been developed for use in connection with the continuous fermentation of Erewers wort in a chemostat system.

The invention is however believed to be applicable to any microbiological process in which a sedimentable micro-organism is operated in a nutrient liquid, and is in the form of a mechanical dispersion in liquid nutrient of relatively lower specific gravity, so that in the absence of turbulence, the micro-organism tends to settle at the bottom of the vessel.

It has already been proposed continuously to ferment Brewers wort or other ferment-able substrate in a plurality of sequentially arranged stirred or unstirred vessels, and to separate the fermenting micro-organism (yeast) from the fermented product (beer) by settlement in a separate vessel or in a part of the final fermentation vessel separated from a stirred region by a baffle.

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Beer In Ads #1768: Guinness Time


Wednesday’s holiday ad is for Guinness, from 1962. This is one of the last illustrations John Gilroy did for Guinness, and it was featured on the company magazine for Christmas 1962. The slightly angled one below is the largest image of it I could find, although the smaller one below it gives you a better look at it. I like how determined Santa is to get that glass of beer, willing to jump through a harp held my a lion.

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Beer In Ads #1765: My Goodness! My Christmas Guinness!


Sunday’s ad is for Guinness, from 1952. I like the idea that Santa gets a bottle of Guinness at Christmas Eve instead of the more traditional milk for his cookies, although the addition of an evil (or at least mischievous) kinkajou seems a strange way to go. I’m not sure that Santa Claus versus the Kinkajou makes a great deal of sense, but I guess it’s a least a different approach.

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Patent No. 3219319A: Concentration Control Apparatus For A Continuous Flow System

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Today in 1965, US Patent 3219319 A was issued, an invention of Michael Edward Ash, assigned to Guinness Son & Co. Ltd., for his “Concentration Control Apparatus for a Continuous Flow System.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes this summary:

This invention relates in general to continuous flow systems of the kind in which liquid suspensions comprising a mechanical dispersion of sedimentable particles in a liquid of relatively lower specific gravity, are caused to flow through a processing vessel or series of vessels.

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Patent No. 3063841A: Method Of Dispensing Liquid

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Today in 1962, US Patent 3063841 A was issued, an invention of Michael Edward Ash, assigned to Guinness Son & Co Ltd, for his “Method of Dispensing Liquid.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes this summary:

I claim: l. A method of dispensing a beverage under pressure from apressurized system into a drinking vessel so as to ensure a fine, regular and enduring head on the beverage in said vessel which comprises the steps of providing in solution in said beverage a mixture of carbon dioxide and an oxygen-free inert gas and applying a counter-pressure to said beverage which acts to maintain the pressure of the mixed gases in solution in said beverage throughout the dispensing operation without substantial variation of the partial pressure of either of said gases and also acts to expel the beverage from said system through a delivery passage and tap to the outlet thereof.

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Beer In Ads #1718: All This, Just To Drink A Guinness In Peace?


Saturday’s ad is for Guinness, from the 1986. On the day the United Nations was founded, I thought this ad for Guinness depicting the U.N. building in New York was appropriate. The copy is pretty funny though, referring to the beer as “fraternal Guinness” and to drink it “in peace and quiet all you have to do is become a delegate in the United Nations.” That’s because apparently Guinness is served in the dining room reserved for delegates on the top floor of the U.N. building, complete with panoramic views of the city. But I suspect there are probably easier ways to get a beer, though maybe the one we can buy aren’t “cool, fraternal Guinness.”

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