Stout-Hearted in Ireland

Written by Sal Emma for BYO Magazine

The Guinness brewery in Dublin, Ireland, is a time machine. Cobblestone streets link the gray stone and red brick buildings — narrow thoroughfares where draft horses once clopped their way around the sprawling complex, hauling malt, hops, kegs, and men from job to job, batch to batch.

Today, diesel trucks and forklifts ply these time-worn paths of stone. Rubber tires roll over the iron tracks of the brewery’s narrow-gauge steam railway system, built in the late 1700s to supplant horse-drawn transport.

The brewery complex is a tapestry of old and new. Guinness brewers oversee 21st century computer-automated brewing in the shadow of Arthur Guinness’ original brewery and residence, for which he invested £100 (about $150 today) of inherited funds in 1759.

Guinness made a real estate deal that would make any modern businessman jealous: a 9,000-year lease at £45 per year, with water rights included.

Of course, at the time £45 was nothing to sneeze at. And the property was nothing to brag about. Only four acres, it was small, already 90 years old and broken down. It had been sitting idle for nearly 10 years when Guinness made his deal for one of dozens of nondescript breweries in Dublin’s industrial quarter, known as the Liberties. Located at St. James Gate, one of the gates in the old wall surrounding Dublin, the brewery Guinness bought consisted of a copper, a mash/lauter tun, two malt houses, a mill, stables for 12 horses, and a loft that could hold 200 tons of hay.

Guinness was an ale man. Ale was the true King of Beers in those days, and Guinness went about producing ale for Dublin. Later, a newfangled style caught his attention: porter from England.

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