As you arrive on the site, you'll notice a stylish banner ad. If you click on the link, it will take you to the website of my sponsor, Guinness, and I encourage you to do so. In the two years of this arrangement, Guinness has helped subsidize my writing, as well as sending me to Dublin to see the brewery and learn more about the company's long history. (It's older than the United States.) As a result of this collaboration, I was able to write about Michael Ash, inventor of nitro, the long, fabulous evolution of Guinness Stout, and the lock-in and other Irish idiosyncrasies.
Guinness is, as everyone knows, one of the largest and most successful beer companies in the world. Nevertheless, some people are wary of their size and influence. Moreover, Guinness is owned by Diageo, whose portfolio includes Smirnoff, Crown Royal, Tanqueray, Johnnie Walker, and many others. I have had my own curious relationship with Dublin's giant: Guinness was the only brewery to flat out deny me a tour of their facility when I was writing The Beer Bible, and then I had an awkward call with Fergal Murray, then the face of brewing operations. And finally, others consider them one of the dreaded foes of craft brewing.
When I decided to seek sponsors, I wanted companies that would be partners, folks to help me make a few bucks while getting my endorsement in the form of a banner ad. When I heard from Saraveza, General Distributors, and Double Mountain Brewery, I was delighted--they're exactly what I had in mind. It never occurred to me that a larger brewery would be interested. Blue Moon, Goose Island--even Bud or Coors might have inquired. I'm not really sure what I'd have done in that case.
But Guinness? A no-brainer for me. I have loved this beer for over 25 years (here in the US, we get a product called Extra Stout that has been a top-ten beer for me). Many years back, the company ran a promotion to win a pub in Ireland, and friends and I wrote mini-essays with fantasies of moving to Ireland to pour pints of the stuff the rest of our lives. My favorite living author is the Irish author Roddy Doyle, who manages to situate a fair number of his most funny and/or poignant scenes into pubs where characters are gulping Guinness. (A Star Called Henry is one of the best books ever written--definitely give that a read.) This no doubt led to some inexcusable romanticizing of Ireland's most famous brewery, but then I would not be the first person to romanticize a brewery.
But even more than all that, this is Guinness. It's one of the most important extant breweries on earth. For long decades, it was the only multinational ale brand left, when the world had all gone to lager. It dominates both a national tradition and a nation more fully than any other brewery on earth. Guinness was one of the companies to invent branding. One of its employees, an economist, developed the student t test. Michael Ash, a mathematician, developed the nitrogen draft system. And even if it had done none of that, just surviving since 1759 earns a certain amount of respect.
All of which is to say that I am quite pleased to have that banner on the site. Please welcome them aboard.
Note: Guinness/Diageo extended the sponsorship through June 2018.