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Friday, November 2, 2007


GUINNESS; the 250-year quest for the perfect pint (John Wiley, 2007, 250
pages, ISBN 978-0-470-12052-1, $29.99 hard covers) is a business narrative
written by Bill Yenne, a beer journalist living in San Francisco. He has
written almost 40 books on a variety of historical topics. Plus six more on
beer. This book was originally subtitled: "the story of the world's greatest
beer", but better minds prevailed. But this book has been described as a
perfectly poured history of the world's most famous beer. And that's 2
billion perfectly poured (one would hope) pints EACH YEAR. This is a mixture
of Irish history and the biography of a family, compellingly told over a 250
year frame. Arthur Gunness became a brewer at age 30. His son and namesake
came up with the winning formula. His son (grandson Benjamin) became the
richest man in Ireland selling stout. It was Benjamin who built the family
business into the beer juggernaut, the largest single brewery in the world.
In addition to history and biography, this book is also the story of beer
technology and craftsmanship. Yenne has drawn from two basic source
documents, Patrick Lynch's "Guinness Brewery in the Irish Economy,
1759-1876" and S.R. Dennison's "Guinness 1886-1939". Particularly useful is
the story of the 1986 innovation to help form the characteristic smooth and
creamy head, for an authentic Guinness every time; it is now used in every
bottle and can sold. There is a copious bibliography and a very useful

Audience and level of use: corporate history lovers, erudite beer drinkers.

Some interesting or unusual facts: Guinness Extra Stout is the closest to
the Guinness Porter originally brewed by Arthur Guinness now available. But
it has less than five per cent of all Guinness sales worldwide. Guinness
Draught has almost completely replaced it.

The downside to this book: is "widget" the only name for the device that
issues nitrogen to preserve the draught element?

The upside to this book: there are some good black and white illustrations
from the archives.

Quality/Price Rating: 91.

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