Sunday, September 27, 2009

250 years of Good Beer

September 24th of this year marked the 250th anniversary of the day when Arthur Guinness founded his beer-making factory. For an annual rent of 45£, he bought a 9000 year lease on the land his factory is built on. Nothing like planning ahead. Considering global warming, all of Dublin might be underwater before the lease comes up for renewal.

The Guinness Corporation has very cleverly invented a holiday which they call “Arthur’s Day” to celebrate the founding of their famous product which should be considered more of a mix between chocolate milk and oatmeal than a real beer. On September 24th at 17:59 (5:59pm) everyone was supposed to go to the Pub and drink a Guinness (Get it?, 250 years ago it was the year 1759). Around Dublin, Guinness also funded a whole lot of festivities – cool bands and the like at multiple locations.

As it turned out I happened to be in downtown Ireland in the late afternoon on Arthur’s day (I had just given a talk at Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies) so I stopped into my favorite little pub just before 6pm. It was standing room only, and the bartender was pouring Guinness full speed from six taps in parallel. I grabbed a pint myself and joined the crowd in watching the official countdown to 17:59 on TV. This seemed a bit too much like New Years –- except no one knew quite what to say when the clock hit 17:59. “Happy… er… Pint?”. Strangely, the event on TV was celebrated by a performance of Tom Jones singing “It’s not unusual”. This can only be described as surreal. I’m sure Arthur Guinness is rolling over in his grave.

Anyway, after finishing off my pint, I left and started walking around the city. Every single pub (and there are very many) was overflowing into the street, and every person was drinking Guinness. What an amazing marketing coup.

I wandered around Dublin observing all the people drinking Guinness (observing also that the new dress code for young women in this town involves insanely high heels which appear impossible to walk on – but this is another story). But instead of going into one of these pubs, instead I went across town to go to…


(To be continued next blog posting)

2 comments:

Carissa Aoki said...

Wow, Arthur's Day in Dublin--I'm impressed! Let's also raise a pint to "Mr. Student" (aka William Sealy Gosset), whose story is much more fun to think about than actual statistics...

Steve said...

Actually, I had not heard the "Mr Student" story til I looked it up. Maybe that is a good blog posting for the future!