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Having left behind the green face paint and “Kiss Me I’m Irish” buttons of morally dubious St. Patrick’s Days past, perhaps this year you’re thinking of simply settling in for a quiet pint of Guinness in your own home. It’s the simplest, most Irish thing you can do to pay tribute to the patron saint of the Emerald Isle. Or is it? 

The Guinness heritage is decidedly Irish, with its origin in Dublin at St. James Gate, the original Guinness brewery and continually the most visited tourist attraction in Ireland. Guinness still enjoys national popularity as the most widely consumed alcoholic beverage in Ireland, in fact. But the pedigree of any given Guinness draught, can, or bottle might not be entirely Irish, and could come from somewhere that may surprise you. Here are 5 things you may not know about one of the world’s most celebrated beers, and the official suds of St. Patrick’s Day.

Not All Guinness Is Made in Ireland

Guinness Cream Soda recipe

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As early as the 1820s, Guinness was exporting its famous stout to places as far from Ireland as the Caribbean. As with any product growing in worldwide popularity, expansion of production is often necessary. In 1936 Guinness opened its second brewery in London, where its headquarters was even transferred for a time. Guinness as a company currently owns and operates six breweries worldwide—read on for the surprising where-on-earth reveals—and has granted licenses to other, independent brewers such that Guinness as a beer is brewed in as many as 50 different countries.

Not All Guinness Is Guinness

The name Guinness may be synonymous with the classic Irish dry stout, but Guinness is more than just a single beer; it’s a brand that produces a number of different beer styles, including blonde and red ales, a black lager, and even several IPAs. Guinness stout itself also has different regional expressions with varying ABVs including Guinness Draught, Guinness Original/Extra Stout, Guinness Foreign Extra Stout, and Guinness Smooth.

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Guinness Got Nitro For Its 200th Birthday

The telltale creamy head achieved by a slow, properly drawn Guinness may seem like a charming relic from days of yore, but in truth it’s part of a much newer era for the brand. Guinness was first made in 1759 by Arthur Guinness, though his first beer was not likely a stout. The nitrogen gas, or “nitro” approach to pulling a Guinness draught wasn’t applied until 1959, meaning the rich foam is still in its adolescence for the brand’s lifetime.

Related Reading: The Role of Your Beer Glass Matters More Than You Think

There Are 3 Guinness Breweries in Africa

Outside of the Republic of Ireland and the neighboring United Kingdom, the next largest national consumer of Guinness is Nigeria, despite the best efforts of dedicated American St. Patrick’s Day celebrants. (Looking at you, Chicago.) With one in Ireland, and one in Malaysia—the London operation closed in 2005—more than half of the breweries actually owned by Guinness are located in Africa: in Nigeria, Ghana, and Cameroon.

The Newest Guinness Brewery Is American

As of 2018 Guinness has a home in Baltimore, MD. (Maryland go bragh? Has a ring to it…) Designed as a campus for Guinness brewers to experiment, and dubbed the Open Gate Brewery as a nod to the original Dublin location, you can sample American-made Guinness beers at its tap room such as Guinness Blonde, Guinness IPA, Guinness White Ale, and Guinness Over The Moon Milk Stout, as well as rotating experimental drafts. Or, if Guinness stout is more your speed, the Open Gate campus has three expressions of “classic” Guinness always tapped: Guinness Draught, Guinness Extra Stout, and Guinness Foreign Extra Stout.

Visit our St. Patrick’s Day headquarters for more Irish intel and St. Patrick’s Day recipes (including many that pair perfectly with Guinness, of course).

Header image courtesy of NurPhoto/Getty Images.

Pamela Vachon is a freelance writer based in Astoria, NY whose work has also appeared on CNET, Cheese Professor, Alcohol Professor, and Diced. She is also a certified sommelier, voiceover artist, and an avid lover of all things pickled or fermented.
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