Ireland Bound? 4 Surprising Facts About Guinness

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Renowned and savoured all over the world, Guinness has become synonymous with Ireland itself and is one of its most precious exports. As a result, it’s no surprise that visitors to Dublin, the birthplace of the stout, have sipping a pint of the “Black Stuff” firmly marked on their agenda.

Many will head straight for the St James’ Gate Storehouse which has become the city’s foremost tourist attraction, with visitors flocking here to learn about the drink’s history, how it is made and, of course, to give it a try. Indeed, the Storehouse’s Gravity Bar offers unrivalled views across the city as far as the Wicklow Mountains – the source of the water with which Guinness is made – making it one of the best places to sink a glass.

However, unsurprisingly, the brew can be found all over town and indeed, all over Ireland.

Somewhat more surprising are these four facts about Guinness:

1. The original factory lease was 9,000 years long

When Arthur Guinness signed the lease for the St James’ Gate brewery on December 31, 1759, he actually signed up for a staggering 9000 years at a fixed price -  a move which may have, at the time, begged the question was he an astute visionary, or just crazy?

But the proof is in the pudding. Back then, the site was only four acres in size. That has since expanded to cover more than 50 acres, with around 10 million glasses of Guinness sold every day around the world.

And while that 9,000 year lease is no longer valid, that is simply because the company has since bought the land outright.

2. It's actually red

Despite a common belief that Guinness is a black concoction with a creamy white head, commonly referred to as the “Black Stuff”, the reality is that the stout is actually ruby red in colour – just look right at the bottom of the glass if you are in doubt. That deep red is the result of the roasted barley used in the unique secret recipe.

3. It's not the heaviest of beers

Despite its creamy texture and filling nature, Guinness is actually one of the lower calorie beers. With 198 calories in each pint, it comes in, somewhat surprisingly, at less than Budweiser, Coors, Heineken and Stella Artois. It’s also not among the stronger beer varieties as commonly believed. With 4.2% alcohol, it is weaker than the “average” draught beer which comes in at 5% ABV.

Although that’s not to say its old 1920s marketing tagline of Guinness is good for you has much weight. A recent study did find that the swarthy stout contains antioxidants that boost the immune system and that it can reduce blood clots as well as the risk of heart attacks. But the fact remains that it is still alcohol and so comes with a wide range of side effects if consumed to excess.

4. The Guinness legacy extends beyond beer

The legacy of the Guinness family extends way beyond their alcohol empire. Their influence can be seen around the city of Dublin to this day – St Stephen’s Green, for example. Use of this 22 acre green space in the heart of the Irish capital was restricted to local residents until 1877 when Sir A E Guinness initiated a review which saw it opened to the public. He also paid for the 1880 re-creation of the green in its current form, prompting the erection of a statue in his honour within the grounds.

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