What's Old is New: Guinness Brings History to Life with Old Recipes and New Brews

Despite the exponential increase in breweries and beers in recent years, when you think of stout one name reigns supreme. Guinness is synonymous with the strong dark beer, and for good reason. Brewed in Dublin at St. James Gate Brewery since 1821, Guinness was the world’s largest brewery by 1886 and its popularity, due to clever advertising as well as a good product, hasn’t wavered much in the intervening 130 years.

It’s also synonymous with nitro. While nitrogen infusion is all the rage now, Guinness invented it. Originally their beer was sold in casks or by the bottle, but when the demand for draught beer grew in the 1950s they knew that standard CO2 wouldn’t cut it, so the first nitro beer was born.

However, that was more than half a century ago, and the beer scene has gone through several changes since then. Not ones to rest on their roasted barley, the brewers at Guinness have now released new beers, but not just by inventing new recipes or new delivery systems, but also by turning back time.

The Brewers Project is a group of brewers at the St. James Gate test brewery that are paying homage to the founders of their noble house. Inspired by formulae from the Guinness Brewers Diaries, which contain over 200 years worth of recipes, these brewers have launched a new line of beers that will introduce the Guinness name to a broader range of beer drinkers. 

Chicago beer afficionados were introduced to these new-to-us brews at a recent event that not only featured the beers themselves, but also gave a glimpse into the actual recipes. Their archivist traveled with the Brewers Diaries, which rarely leave Dublin, and with a book of labels dating back to the early 1900s. Kylie Bunting, of Barley’s Angels Chicago, was impressed by the opportunity to see how beers were developed centuries ago.

“I loved learning about all the history of Guinness—looking at the old recipe books was so cool! Having been to the Guinness factory three years prior (almost to the day!), I loved having a little piece of its history here in Chicago.”

Guinness Diaries

Attendees were invited to try the West Indies Porter and the Dublin Porter, both of which were developed from recipes in the book. The Dublin Porter, at 3.8% ABV, recreates a porter that was what the average Joe would drink in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The West Indies Porter was brewed with more hops and higher gravity so it could travel to the Caribbean, giving it a more robust 6% ABV.

“I enjoy a well-poured Guinness, but I was really impressed by the historic recipes—especially the West Indies Porter. I felt it was smooth and complex in a totally different way than the Guinness we all know and love. I also really enjoyed learning about the history of this legacy brand,” said Shannan Bunting, also of Barleys Angels Chicago.

Also available was a Nitro IPA, and the Blonde American Lager, both new creations. The Nitro IPA features the same double pour as the Guinness draught. The Lager is the only Guinness that’s actually brewed in the U.S. to provide a beverage that’s specifically Irish American.

The real treat of the evening was the 1798 Limited Edition Double Extra Stout. This thick, rich gem was brewed with the actual staves from the original barrels from 1798. We were literally drinking history.

Guinness 1798 Double Extra Stout

Guinness Draught can be found pretty much everywhere beer is found, and particularly at your local pub. You can find their new flavors at Binny’s, Costco and Sam’s Club in The Brewers Project Pack. 






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