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GuinnessGuinness is a popular Irish dry stout that originated in the brewery of Arthur Guinness (1725–1803) at St. James's Gate, Dublin.

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Guinness is one of the most successful beer brands worldwide. It is brewed in almost 50 countries and is available in over 100. 1,800,000,000 US pints (850,000 m3) are sold annually.

A distinctive feature is the burnt flavour that is derived from roasted unmalted barley (though this is a relatively modern development since it did not become a part of the grist until well into the 20th century). For many years a portion of aged brew was blended with freshly brewed product to give a sharp lactic flavour. Although the Guinness palate still features a characteristic "tang", the company has refused to confirm whether this type of blending still occurs. The beer's thick, creamy head comes from mixing the beer with nitrogen when poured. It is popular with Irish people both in Ireland and abroad, and, in spite of a decline in consumption since 2001, is still the best-selling alcoholic drink in Ireland where Guinness & Co. makes almost €2 billion annually.

The company had its headquarters in London from 1932 onwards. It merged with Grand Metropolitan plc in 1997 and then figured in the development of the multi-national alcohol conglomerate Diageo.

Arthur Guinness started brewing ales from 1759 at the St. James's Gate Brewery, Dublin. On 31 December 1759 he signed (up to) a 9,000 year lease at £45 per annum for the unused brewery. Ten years later, on 19 May 1769, Guinness first exported his ale: he shipped six-and-a-half barrels to Great Britain.

"Stout" originally referred to a beer's strength, but eventually shifted meaning toward body and colour.

Arthur Guinness started selling the dark beer porter in 1778. The first Guinness beers to use the term were Single Stout and Double Stout in the 1840s. Throughout the bulk of its history, Guinness produced 'only three variations of a single beer type: porter or single stout, double or extra and foreign stout for export'.

Already one of the top-three British and Irish brewers, Guinness's sales soared from 350,000 barrels in 1868 to 779,000 barrels in 1876. In October 1886 Guinness became a public company, and was averaging sales of 1,138,000 barrels a year. This was despite the brewery's refusal to either advertise or offer its beer at a discount. Even though Guinness owned no public houses, the company was valued at £6 million and shares were twenty times oversubscribed, with share prices rising to a 60% premium on the first day of trading.

The breweries pioneered several quality control efforts. The brewery hired the statistician William Sealy Gosset in 1899, who achieved lasting fame under the pseudonym "Student" for techniques developed for Guinness, particularly Student's t-distribution and the even more commonly known Student's t-test.

By 1900 the brewery was operating unparalleled welfare schemes for its 5000 employees. By 1907 the welfare schemes were costing the brewery £40,000 a year, which was one fifth of the total wages bill. The improvements were suggested and supervised by Sir John Lumsden.

By 1914, Guinness was producing 2,652,000 barrels of beer a year, which was more than double that of its nearest competitor Bass, and was supplying more than 10% of the total UK beer market.

In the 1930s, Guinness became the seventh largest company in the world.

Before 1939, if a Guinness brewer wished to marry a Catholic, his resignation was requested.

Guinness brewed their last porter in 1973.

In the 1970s, following declining sales, the decision was taken to make Guinness Extra Stout more "drinkable". The gravity was subsequently reduced, and the brand was relaunched in 1981. Pale malt was used for the first time, and isomerized hop extract began to be used.

Guinness acquired the Distillers Company in 1986. This led to a scandal over a £5.2 million kickback received during the takeover bid to one of the directors, Mr Ward, approved by the chairman, Mr Saunders. In the case Guinness plc v Saunders the House of Lords declared that the payment had been invalid.

The company merged with Grand Metropolitan in 1997 to form Diageo PLC. Due to controversy over the merger, the company was maintained as a separate entity within the Diageo and has retained the rights to the product and all associated trademarks of Guinness. The Guinness brewery in Park Royal, London closed in 2005. The production of all Guinness sold in the UK and Ireland was moved to St. James's Gate Brewery, Dublin.

Guinness has also been referred to as "the black stuff" and as a "Pint of Plain" - referred to in the famous refrain of Flann O'Brien's poem "The Workman's Friend": "A pint of plain is your only man."

Guinness had a fleet of ships, barges and yachts.

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