A pleasingly stout way of eating: How about dining on Guinness salmon or beery brownies?

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Flemmich Webb samples a surprising combination.

First, there was food and wine matching. Then ale got in on the act. Now, apparently, it's stout. I'm sitting in a restaurant at the top of the Storehouse, Guinness's visitor centre in Dublin, listening to the chef Justin "Joc" O'Connor talk about the fine taste of Guinness-cured salmon. It's not an obvious choice of marinade. The accompanying glass of Guinness Extra Stout isn't typical either.

They work, though, as do other dishes such as mussels in Extra Stout, dill and cream sauce, Foreign Extra Stout beef stew and, most convincingly, Guinness and beetroot chocolate brownies. "Guinness draught is more suited for desserts – the coffee taste and slight bitterness of the beer offsets the sweetness," says Joc, the Guinness Storehouse executive chef, explaining the nuances of matching the company's stout variants with food.

It makes a change to experience some subtlety in relation to the "black stuff", as it's not something I'd usually associate with its consumption. At one humiliating freshers' week event many years ago, I crashed drunkenly, mid-Irish jig, into the hired band's drum kit, destroying a drum, the gig and any chance of making new friends.

I keep this to myself when I meet Fergal Murray, the Guinness master brewer and brand ambassador. He suggests I swill the beer around my mouth before swallowing, as you would with wine, and though it feels slightly pretentious, I admit that a previously unnoticed complexity of flavours does excite my taste buds.

He teaches me to pull the perfect pint – it's a six-stage process, including leaving the glass to sit partially filled for 120 seconds to allow the "surge" to settle before topping up the remainder. Two weeks previously, he'd taught Tom Cruise the same – and he's even pulled a pint for the Queen. "That was the pressure one but I nailed it," says Murray. "It's the only pint I've poured for which I've received a standing ovation."

It's not just celebrities and dignitaries that are drawn to the St James's Gate Brewery site in Dublin. About a million visitors flock here every year, keen to experience… well, what exactly?

There aren't many brands as synonymous with national culture and identity as Guinness is. It's not just a creamy-topped pint of dark beer; it's, as my Dublin taxi driver described it, "a national monument," a company and drink that seem to encapsulate the essence of Irishness.

For those who don't make it to Dublin, there are thousands of bars all over the world serving pints of Guinness with U2 blaring out in the background, where one can experience Irish culture – or at least a version of it.

Advertising has played its part in the brand's popularity. From John Gilroy's colourful cartoon zoo animal campaigns (1930s-1960s) to the arresting television ad featuring white horses bursting out of a huge wave behind a surfer (1999), to its current "Made of More" campaign, the company has always promoted its products distinctively. So much so that globally, it now sells 10 million glasses of beer a day.

But its association with Irish culture goes deeper, and is inexorably linked to the role the company has played in Dublin's history. The story began in 1759, when 34-year-old Arthur Guinness signed a lease for a dilapidated brewery on a four-acre site at St James's Gate. He got it operating again and started brewing ale, the tipple of choice at the time. By the 1770s a new drink from London, strong black beer called porter, was becoming popular, so Arthur went into production himself. It went down so well that in 1799 he stopped brewing ale and focused solely on porter.

It was an inspired decision and by 1833, under the management of Arthur's son, Arthur Guinness II, the brewery had become the largest in Ireland, exporting porter around the world. It wasn't all about profit, though. Working for Guinness became one of the best jobs available: it paid workers a good wage, funded a pension scheme and gave widows of its staff first preference for jobs within the brewery. "Every woman wanted to marry a Guinness man because they were useful to them dead or alive," the joke went.

The company's influence rippled throughout the city: just before the First World War, Guinness employed some 5,000 people; by 1930, one in 30 Dubliners was dependent on it for their livelihoods, either directly or through its supply chain. It also contributed to civic life. Sir Benjamin Lee Guinness, son of Arthur Guinness II, who took over the brewery on the death of his father in the 1850s, donated £150,000 towards the restoration of Dublin's St. Patrick's Cathedral.

In the 1890s, Benjamin's son, Edward Cecil, set up the Guinness and Iveagh Trusts to provide homes for the poor and gave money to Trinity College Dublin and Dublin hospitals. His brother Arthur landscaped St Stephen's Green in the city and donated it to the public.

Guinness isn't resting on its laurels. It's always had a reputation for innovation: it's still the only brewer to have its own barley roasting plant – this gives the beer its distinctive dark ruby colour; in 1959, it invented a nitrogen/CO2 gas mix, which it put into draught Guinness to give the head it's creamy texture; in 1988, it invented the widget, which forms the nitrogen head when the beer is poured from cans.

So it's not stopping now. Diageo, which owns the company – there are no Guinness descendants on the board these days – is carrying out a €153m (£129m) redevelopment to improve efficiency and environmental performance. Once it's completed the work by June this year, the company says it will save an Olympic swimming pool's-worth of water every 30 hours and enough energy annually to power 1,200 households.

It will also produce 45 million pints a week, Now although the food matching/ingredient trend opens up some intriguing culinary possibilities (some better than others – the Guinness caramel chocolate bar is, let's say, an acquired taste), I think I'd rather stay old-school and drink mine in a pub out of a glass.

Cheers Arthur!

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
News
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Life and Style
food + drink
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Investigo: Finance Analyst

    £240 - £275 per day: Investigo: Support the global business through in-depth a...

    Ashdown Group: Data Manager - £Market Rate

    Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Data Manager - MySQL, Shell Scripts, Java, VB Scrip...

    Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - Bedfordshire/Cambs border - £32k

    £27000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - near S...

    Recruitment Genius: Class 1 HGV Driver

    £23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This successful group of compan...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas