Guinness! We hardly knew ye!

This past Saturday I purchased a six-pack of Guinness Extra Stout and plan to drink at least one with dinner this evening. Now, it is not my usual brew, but I pick up some at the supermarket occasionally, and often order it in my infrequent watering hole visits. Several decades ago, imported beer was generally limited to a few German and Dutch brands, at least here in the Lone Star State. Thus, my first taste of Guinness was in London, where I had the impression it was English and was unaware of any Irish connection. At that time, my young taste buds were not particularly receptive of its strong taste, so, upon my return from the Sceptered Isle (never visited the Emerald one), I didn’t seek a source.

Later, I developed a taste for dark, heavy beers, at least for every now and then. Straight Guinness, as well as the mix called the black and tan, was a drink I would enjoy from time to time, though generally not to excess. I learned that the stout porter was billed as being brewed in Ireland, at St. James Gate in Dublin along with a full bodied lager name Harp. A particular style of a musical harp seems to be an Irish or Celtic symbol. St. Patrick’s Day seems like a good time to celebrate, and quaff a few, regardless of your ancestry.

Now the British magazine The Economist (to which I subscribe in print and on line) has validated my first impression: Guinness is really more English than Irish. It relates that:

“The beer the company has become most famous for—porter stout—was based on a London ale, a favourite of the street porters of Covent Garden and Billingsgate markets. Since 1886 the firm has floated on the London Stock Exchange, and the company moved its headquarters to London in 1932.”

And for those still caught up in what has been the ridiculous and deadly spat that seeks separation of Northern Ireland from the United Kingdom, it seems that: “Arthur Guinness, who founded the brewery in Dublin in 1759, might have been surprised that his drink would one day become such a potent national symbol. He was a committed unionist and opponent of Irish nationalism, who before the Irish Rebellion of 1798 was even accused of spying for the British authorities. His descendants continued passionately to support unionism—one giving the Ulster Volunteer Force £10,000 in 1913 (about £1m, or $1.7m, in today’s money) to fund a paramilitary campaign to resist Ireland being given legislative independence. The company was alleged to have lent men and equipment to the British army to help crush Irish rebels during the Easter Rising of 1916, afterwards firing members of staff whom it believed to have Irish-nationalist sympathies.”

Well ethnic squabbles aside, Guinness is still a tasty and bracing drink, and we can all celebrate the day and any other day, with a pint. Cheers! Erin go Bragh! And God Save the Queen!

See more at:Guinness

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