Guinness stout and Guinness World Records: What’s the connection?

It’s no coincidence that Guinness stout and Guinness World Records share a name. Here we take a look at their connection.

Guinness stout and Guinness World Records: What’s the connection?

Who would have thought that Ireland’s most iconic beer would be responsible for the world’s most iconic record-holding book?

Despite what you may think about a pint and its ability to tell the truth, Guinness (the drink) is the reason the world relies on Guinness World Records (known as The Guinness Book of Records until 2000 and in past U.S. editions as The Guinness Book of World Records).

So if you’ve ever wondered whether there’s a connection between Guinness stout and Guinness World Records, we can confirm that they share more than just a name. Here we take a look at their fascinating connection.

Fastest game bird

Guinness stout and Guinness World Records: the connection began with an argument over the fastest game bird
The fastest game bird in Europe: the golden plover

The Guinness Book of Records was started by the managing director of Guinness Breweries, Sir Hugh Beaver, in 1951.

An historic account recalls how Beaver, during a shooting party by the River Slaney in County Wexford, shot at a game bird and missed. This led to a discussion between himself and his hosts to determine the fastest game bird in Europe: the red grouse or the golden plover.

Indeed, they failed in this pursuit, having retired to Castlebridge House that evening to establish the answer to the question.

Beaver realised that no official record existed for the answer, and the same applied to what he presumed would be many arguments and debates, and perhaps a few over a pint of Guinness.

Finding the facts

Guinness World Records logo

Beaver recruited the help of two journalists and brothers, Norris and Ross McWhirter, to amass records and eventually publish it into a book of records. The initial goal of the Guinness Book of Records was to settle all debates within Britain and Ireland.

Letters were subsequently sent to all parties that the men believed could help with the verification of the records, from astrophysicists to gerontologists.

The Guinness Book of Records history claims that the creation of the first book took “thirteen and a half 90 hour weeks,” which included weekends and bank holidays.

Published in 1955

The first edition of the Guinness Book of World Records
Credit: Guinnessworldrecords.com

The first ever Guinness Book of Records was published in the summer of 1955, at 198 pages long. It was initially made as a promotional item that Guinness gave to bars throughout Ireland and the UK who stocked and sold their Guinness brew, with 1,000 copies distributed in total. 

However, the book was so popular that Beaver secured office space for the two brothers to work on a new edition. 50,000 copies were made and sold to the public.

It went straight to the top of the British best sellers list by Christmas of that year, before selling 70,000 copies in the US in 1956.

By 1960, the Guinness Book of Records had sold an astonishing 500,000 copies. Beaver was smart enough to put the famous Guinness logo on each copy.

By 1966, the book had sold over 1.5 million copies, and even managed to top the best-sellers list in the likes of Germany and France, amongst other European countries.

TV show

Guinness extended its reach from the bar stools to TV screens, with a TV series The Record Breakers airing from 1972. The show was based on facts from the Guinness Book of Records, and aired 276 episodes throughout its 29-year existence.

Worldwide popularity

The Guinness Book of Records became so popular that it now holds its own world-record as the best-selling copyrighted book of all time. It has sold more than 100 million copies in 100 different countries, and is printed in 37 different languages.

The book set this record as far back as 1974, becoming the fastest-selling copyrighted book with 23.5 million copies sold globally. 

The book receives thousands of applications every month, many of which relate to facts that could not be established back in 1955.

The book now employs hundreds of people across the globe, from as far as New York and China, to verify some of the most obvious and absurd facts of our time.

The Guinness beer company and Guinness World Records are no longer officially linked, having been put under the ownership of different entities in 2001.

Whatever debate or discussion you’re having, whatever argument you’re losing, Guinness has the answer for you.