Year: Day to Day Men: December 31
On December 31st of 1759, Arthur Guinness signed a nine-thousand year lease on an abandoned property and became a prominent figure within the Dublin brewery scene.
In September of1755, Arthur Guinness purchased his first brewery, a three-story building located on the confluence of the River Liffey in Leixlip, County Kildare. The river provided power and water for brewing; the hops were brought from Dublin along the Dublin-Galway road. The origin of the yeast used by Guinness is unknown, but is speculated to have come from Kildare. In September of 1756, Guinness leased several more properties to extend his business.
Leaving his Leixlip brewery in the care of his brother Richard, Guinness moved to Dublin, an area of affordable property due to a recent number of economic upsets and bank collapses. He was particularly interested in acquiring a brewery at St. James Gate that had sat abandoned for nine years. A large site of four acres, 1.6 hectares, it contained a gristmill, two malt houses, a brewhouse and stables. The property’s location near St. James Gate would be served by a terminus of the newly built Grand Canal.
The current owner of the Dublin property was the Rainsford family. It was originally owned by Sir Mark Rainsford, the Lord Mayor of Dublin and a manufacturer of beer and fine ales. The business was passed on to his son, also named Mark, who leased the business in 1715 to a Captain Paul Espinasse. In 1750, the Rainsford family resumed ownership of the business and the site. On the thirty-first of December in 1759, Arthur Guinness leased the site from Sir Mark Rainsford’s grandson, Mark Rainsford III. Under the agreement, Guinness made a £100 down-payment and agreed to pay an additional £45 annually for nine-thousand years.
The terms of the lease involving the water usage became a major problem between Arthur Guinness and the Dublin Corporation, the city’s administrator. By 1773, the Corporation claimed his brewery was using more water than that specified by his lease, a claim disputed by Guinness. However in April of 1775, the Corporation discovered that Guinness had made alterations to the pipe system that allowed him to draw more water than he was allowed. Both sides eventually settled the matter in court in 1785; Guinness agreed to lease water from the City of Dublin for an annual charge of £10.
While popular in Dublin, Guinness did not immediately achieve dominance among the regional brewers; his sales were far below those of such brewers as Taylor, Phepoe and Thwaites. Dublin brewers were not as successful as English brewers whose imported porter was the dominant drink in the city. In 1778, Guinness added porter to his ale-heavy brewery and, by 1783, it dominated his business. By 1796, porter production at the St. James Gate Brewery was five times the ale output; ale brewing at the site ended on the 22nd of April in 1799,
Although he limited his brewery to dark beer, Arthur Guinness experimented with different forms of porter. His concept of a West India Porter, with greater hops and alcohol content, later became the basis for Guinness Foreign Extra Stout. In 1777, the British House of Commons formally changed the tax code regarding domestic Irish porter; this allowed the creation of a market for the importation of Irish porter into England, which led to beer exportation as a staple of the Irish economy.