The HISTORY of GUINNESS: a fascinating timeline of the black stuff

Arthur Guinness was reportedly born on 28 September 1725. As such, Arthur’s Day was born. So, let’s take a look at the history of Guinness through a timeline spanning centuries.

The HISTORY of GUINNESS: a timeline of the black stuff.

Guinness is a name and a brand that resonates with Ireland and Irish culture. It has an unparalleled history dating back to the late 18th century.

Arthur Guinness, the visionary brewer behind Ireland’s beloved famous stout, laid the foundation for what would eventually become an international icon.

In this article, we will embark on a journey through time to explore the pivotal milestones in the history of Guinness, tracing its evolution from a modest Dublin brewery to a global phenomenon.

Ireland Before You Die’s crazy facts about Guinness:

  • Guinness Draught isn’t actually black, it’s ruby red.
  • Guinness was once prescribed for pregnant women as an effective source of iron.
  • Of the five Guinness breweries around the world, three of them are in Africa.
  • In 2000, Guinness commissioned a study that found that an estimated 160,000 pints of the stout are lost every year because of facial hair.
  • Guinness originally started off brewing ale, not stout.


The history of Guinness started with this man.

Guinness was founded when Arthur Guinness bought a small brewery in Dublin. The brewery originally dealt with ale and beers.

Arthur Guinness was just 34 years old when he signed the iconic 9,000-year lease ​​​​for Guinness. This marks the beginning of the fascinating history of Guinness.


It was in 1769 that the first export shipment of six and a half barrels of Guinness stout left Dublin on a sailing vessel set for England.


Dublin Corporation’s sheriff attempted to cut off and fill in the water course from which the brewery drew its free water supplies. Arthur Guinness defended his water supply with determination.


The first West Indies Porter emerged.

The first record of brewing the Guinness variant West Indies Porter emerged. This beer was made with a higher hop rate to withstand long sea journeys, serving as a precursor to the modern-day Guinness Foreign Extra Stout.


Arthur Guinness passed away at the age of 78, and his son, Arthur Guinness II, took over the brewery. This marked the start of an impressive brewing dynasty.


Guinness gained fame in Europe, with legends stating that it aided the recovery of a wounded cavalry officer at the Battle of Waterloo.


Arthur Guinness II made specific brewing instructions for a beer known as Guinness Extra Superior Porter. This laid the foundation for today’s Guinness Original.


The history of Guinness expanded when the first international shipment to the Caribbean arrived in Barbados.
Credit: Flickr / Ronald Saunders

A monumental moment as the first international shipment to the Caribbean arrived in Barbados.


The first known advertisement for Guinness’s West Indies Porter appeared in a Dublin newspaper, marking its global recognition.


The first recorded shipment of Guinness to Africa arrived in Sierra Leone.


The Guinness brewery became the largest brewery in Ireland. This milestone was a real testament to its rapid growth and popularity.


Arthur's son took over the brewery.

Sir Benjamin Lee Guinness, the son of Arthur Guinness II, took over the brewery from his father.


Guinness introduced its trademark label, featuring the harp and Arthur Guinness’s signature, setting the stage for its iconic branding.


Benjamin Lee Guinness passed away. As such, the dynasty of Guinness continued when his son Edward Cecil took over.


The history of Guinness expanded when the site itself grew.

The Guinness Brewery doubled in size over the new guidance of Edward Cecil. The brewery expanded north to accommodate new buildings connected by an internal railway system.


Guinness made history by becoming the first major brewery to be incorporated as a public company on the London Stock Exchange, with an annual production of 1.2 million barrels.


Robert Louis Stevenson famously wrote about drinking Guinness while recovering from influenza in Western Samoa.


Edward Cecil Guinness was appointed the first Lord of Iveagh and established the Guinness and Iveagh Trusts, contributing to the welfare of the poor and cultural landmarks.


The history of Guinness.
Credit: Flickr / Thibaut Démare

In 1898, a “world traveller” was appointed to report on the quality and sales of Guinness in overseas markets across North and South America, Africa, the Far East, and Australia.


Guinness makes its way to the South Pole. Sir Douglas Mawson, an Australian explorer, left behind a pint of Guinness at his base camp.


Rupert Guinness succeeded his father, Edward Cecil, as Chairman of the Company, ensuring its continued success.


The Guinness is Good For You slogan emerged.
Credit: Flickr / Dirk Ehlen

Guinness achieved a significant milestone, selling 2 million pints a day, and introducing its famous slogan, “Guinness is Good For You.”


The first Guinness brewery outside Dublin was established at Park Royal, London.


An impressive 5 million pints of Guinness were enjoyed every day.


The Guinness Book of World Records was published for the first time, becoming a global staple for record-breaking achievements.


Draught Guinness was introduced.
Credit: Flickr / Zach Dischner

Draught Guinness, loved and adored all over the world, was first introduced, revolutionising the way people enjoyed their pints. This was a monumental moment in the history of Guinness.


The first Guinness overseas brewery outside the British Isles was opened in Nigeria, paving the way for international expansion.


The Guinness Brewery is built in Malaysia.


The Guinness Brewery is built in Cameroon.


Guinness in a can made its way into the world in a monumental moment in the history of Guinness.
Credit: Flickr / John Keogh

Draught Guinness in a can is launched. The can features a widget to recreate the creamy surge. As a result, the product won the Queen’s Award for Technological Achievement in 1991.


Guinness and Grand Metropolitan merged to form Diageo.


Guinness Draught in a bottle was launched, offering a new way for people to enjoy Ireland’s beloved stout.


The Guinness Storehouse opened.

The Guinness Storehouse, aka Home of Guinness, opens its doors to the public in November in Dublin, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the world of Guinness.

READ: What’s it like inside inside Ireland’s most popular tourist attraction (The Guinness Storehouse)


A remarkable 10 million glasses of Guinness were enjoyed in over 150 countries around the world.


Guinness celebrated its 250th anniversary, a testament to its enduring legacy. As a result, Arthur’s Day celebrations were born.


The “Guinness Made of More” campaign was launched, emphasising the brand’s unique qualities.


In 2014, Brewhouse 4 opened.
Credit: Facebook / Guinness

Brewhouse 4, a state-of-the-art brewery at St. James’s Gate, Dublin, officially opened. It became one of the world’s most technologically advanced and environmentally sustainable stout breweries.


The Guinness Open Gate Brewery opened its doors to the public, offering a glimpse into the world of experimental brewing.


Guinness changed up its filtration system, thus making it drinkable for vegans! This was a big moment in the history of Guinness.


Guinness 0.0 was launched as well as the groundbreaking Guinness nitrosurge.


The Guinness Storehouse started a new experience.

New Guinness Brewery Experience Tour offers a behind-the-scenes Look at the Guinness Storehouse. Plus, the Guinness Open Gate Brewery in Chicago opens in September 2023.

Other notable mentions

Dr. Arthur Price (Archbishop of Cashel): Arthur was said to be inspired by his father, Richard, who was employed by Arthur Price, a vicar for the Church of Ireland. His father was in charge of brewing on Price’s Celbridge Estate.

The coat of arms: The Irish government had to alter the trademark of its coat of arms because of Guinness.

Making records: The Guinness Storehouse was actually the first skyscraper in the British Isles.

Your questions answered about the history of Guinness

Questions answered about the history of Guinness.
Credit: Instagram / @bittlesbar

Who was Arthur Guinness?

Arthur Guinness was the founding figure of Guinness, a visionary brewer who established the St. James’s Gate Brewery in Dublin, Ireland, in 1759.

What is the significance of the harp in Guinness’s logo?

The harp is an emblematic symbol for Guinness, representing Ireland’s rich musical heritage, and was officially registered as a trademark in 1876.

How did Guinness contribute to charitable causes?

Members of the Guinness family, including Sir Benjamin Lee Guinness and Edward Cecil Guinness, made substantial contributions to various charitable causes, encompassing housing for the underprivileged and cultural landmarks.

When was Guinness first brewed outside of Ireland?

The inaugural overseas Guinness brewery was established in Nigeria in 1962, marking the initiation of its international brewing presence.

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