The untold truth of Guinness

Guinness stout is one of the most recognizable beer brands in the world. Synonymous with Ireland itself, Guinness has been brewed at St. James's Gate in Dublin since 1759. Arthur Guinness, the founder of the company, moved to the Irish capital as a young man of 34 and made the savvy business decision to sign a 9,000 year lease on a dilapidated brewery where the beloved beverage is still brewed to this day (via Guinness). 

In addition to their flagship location which boasts a multi-story interactive museum, taproom, and rooftop bar, the beer is brewed in nearly 50 countries and is sold in more than 120 countries across the world (via Mental Itch). Though it's ubiquitous throughout the Emerald Isle, Guinness has developed a keen following in countries as far afield as Nigeria, where there are more Guinness drinkers than in all of Ireland itself (via Smithsonian Magazine). 

What's that rattling in my Guinness can?

If you've ever opened a can of Guinness, you've probably heard something rattling around in the aluminum after you've poured the stout into your glass. That little ball in the bottom of each and every can is the nitrogen cartridge which gives Guinness a trademark silky and creamy head. 

The official name of this nitrogen infused marble is a "widget" and its inclusion in Guinness cans makes for an experience that is similar to drinking a beer straight from the tap (via Business Insider). When you open the can, the pressure inside drops causing the liquid nitrogen in the widget to agitate tiny bubbles that help to form the creamy white head (via How Things Work). This contraption was introduced in 1997 and allows for a smoother drinking experience than if the beer was pressurized with carbon dioxide like most beers. Carbonating beer with carbon dioxide results in a harsher taste, which prevents the velvety mouthfeel for which Guinness has become known. 

The link between Guinness beer and the Guinness Book of World Records

Part of the reason Guinness has enjoyed such a successful history is its marketing and ad campaigns. Most people who have ever stepped foot in a bar would recognize the toucans from the "Lovely Day for a Guinness" poster, or the seal who's made off with a zookeeper's pint in the "My Goodness, my Guinness" ad (via Business Insider). 

But perhaps the greatest stroke of marketing genius came in the 1950s. Sir Hugh Beaver, the managing director of Guinness, realized that there would be a market for a book which would settle arguments or bets that would spring up in bars and pubs around the world (via the Guinness Book of World Records). This was the genesis of the Guinness Book of World Records, which was initially printed as marketing material for the beer brand. Since then, it has sold more than 130 million copies in 100 countries and 23 languages (via The Verdict).

Guinness has kept moving forward with the times

With such an illustrious history and centuries of international adulation, there's every reason to think that Guinness will thrive for at least another 250 years. But for the majority of its existence, Guinness has technically been off-limits to both vegetarians and vegans. For many years, Guinness used isinglass, a product which is made from fish bladders, to filter the brew (via Irish Mirror). 

To the delight of vegans and vegetarians all over the world who fancied a stout, in 2015 Guinness announced that it would be switching its filtration system to a method that no longer used fish bladders. By 2017, all draft Guinness was being brewed without animal products, and by 2018, all bottles and cans were certified vegan as well (via Metro). 

Though it boasts a long and illustrious history, the brewery shows signs of being willing to change with the times.