Said to be one of the successful brands worldwide, even in Malaysia, Guinness has come a long way. From being the brand of alcohol that’s favoured by coffee shop patrons to the drink that even young ‘uns don’t mind being associated with now, Guinness Malaysia has achieved milestones after milestones.
And this year, Guinness Malaysia will mark its 50th anniversary of being brewed in Malaysia.
In celebration of Guinness and Malaysia’s 50 years of being together, we’ve compiled some cool facts about the popular “black beer” that people often ignore or forget to ask about. To be honest, we’ve learnt quite a bit ourselves too along the way ;)
Check ’em out:
1. Who is this Arthur Guinness dude?
Arthur Guinness was an Irish brewer and the founder of the Guinness brewery business and family. He was also an entrepreneur, visionary, and philanthropist. He signed a 9,000-year lease on the 4-acre (16,000 m2) brewery at St. James’s Gate for £45 a month. The company still pays £45 in rent each month – they have another 8,744 years to go!
Oh, and if you looked really closely, Guinness’s florid signature is still copied on every label of bottled Guinness.
2. The real meaning behind the harp
The harp, which serves as the Guinness emblem, is based on a famous 14th century Irish harp known as the “O’Neill” or “Brian Boru” harp which is now preserved in the Library of Trinity College Dublin. The harp device has been synonymous with Guinness since 1862 when it was used as a symbol on the first bottle label for Guinness. It was registered as a Guinness company trademark in 1876. The harp trademark inspired Guinness to name its first lager “Harp” in 1960.
Some real hardcore fans have even gotten the Guinness harp tattooed on themselves. Check ’em out here.
3. Why some Malaysians call it “Hak Gau Peh”
If you’re Malaysian, your fathers and uncles, and perhaps even your grandfathers will be able to relate to this. Guinness historically used animals as symbols to identify its country of export. When Guinness was first introduced into Southeast Asia – on each of the pint bottles was placed an animal image, and that animal was representative at the time of the local distributor.
For Indonesia, it was a cat. For Singapore, it was a red-tongued dog. For Malaysia, it was a black bulldog, hence “Hak Gau Peh”. Eventually, it became a household name. Until today ;)
4. But hey, Guinness isn’t actually black
So, in case you didn’t know, Guinness stout is made from water, barley, roast malt extract, hops, and brewer’s yeast. A portion of the barley is roasted to give Guinness its dark colour and characteristic taste. Because of how it’s brewed, Guinness appears black but in actual fact, it isn’t black at all. The next time you drink Guinness, hold your beer up to the light and you’ll see that Guinness is actually a deep, dark red.
5. Gotta remember the cool parties though!
Remember Guinness Arthur’s Day? It was an annual series of music events worldwide to promote the 250th anniversary of its Guinness brewing company. The 2009 events took place internationally, in the cities of Dublin, Kuala Lumpur (that’s us!), Lagos, New York, and Yaoundé on 23rd September. We also had the Guinness Black Party series, and who can forget that Guinness was a huge part of the St Patrick’s Day celebrations worldwide as well as in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia?
More recently, Guinness Malaysia kicked off their Guinness Amplify series, an event that champions musicians with the passion to carve their own path.
6. True or false: Less bloat than beer?
The fun part about drinking is, well, drinking. But the not-so-fun part is “the morning after” aka all that bloating. Despite being often called the “meal in a glass”, Guinness only contains 198 calories per imperial pint. That’s less than an equal-sized serving of skimmed milk or orange juice. And don’t let its appearance fool you because it’s actually quite tame and mellow for a stout that you can have at any time of the day.
A Guinness fan will also tell you that drinking Guinness will leave you less bloated than drinking the average canned beer. Tried and tested!
7. The variants you never knew about
Did you know that Guinness is actually available in a number of variants and strengths? There’s the Guinness draught stout and the Extra Cold draught stout. Also, the bottled Guinness draught and the canned Guinness draught. Let’s not forget the Guinness Original/Extra Stout, which is as near to Arthur Guinness’ original porter as can be obtained today, as well as the Guinness Foreign Extra Stout. Last but not least, the Guinness Bitter, Guinness Extra Smooth, the non-alcoholic sweet Malta Guinness drink. There are more but alas, not all are available in Malaysia.
8. It makes for pretty quick & yummy cocktails
Hah, bet you wouldn’t have imagined whipping up a cocktail with Guinness as its base. There are a few yummy Guinness cocktails that take no more than 5 minutes to make! Provided that you have the ingredients, of course. To make the “Purple Guinness”, pour 440ml can stout into a tall glass then add 50ml blackcurrant cordial and serve. To make the “Black Velvet”, half fill champagne flutes with stout, then top them up with chilled champagne.
For more Guinness cocktail recipes, hit up this BBC Good Food link.
9. Guinness Malaysia is brewed in Selangor
In Sungai Way, to be precise. By Guinness Anchor Berhad (GAB).
GAB was incorporated on 24th January 1964 under the name of Guinness Malaysia Limited. The company changed its name to Guinness Malaysia Berhad on 15th April 1966 and assumed its present name on 15th November 1989. Today, GAB is a major producer of beer and stout in Malaysia. GAB operates the Sungai Way Brewery which started operations in 1965. Located in Selangor, the brewery occupies a land area of 23.72 acres.
10. The commemorative #GuinnessMY50 cans are a world-first
In conjunction with Guinness Malaysia’s 50 years of brewing in Malaysia celebration, 3 brand new limited edition designs were launched recently. Behind the designs are 5 luminaries of the Malaysian creative scene e.g. Edwin Raj (frontman of local band They Will Kill Us All), artist Donald Abraham, film director James Lee, graphic artist Lefty (Julian Kam), and photographer Vincent Paul Yong. It’s the first time that Guinness created designs specifically for one country, drawing inspiration from its culture and its people.
As they all say, you learn something new every day :)
The 3 collectible limited edition designs (Tribal, Vintage, and Modern) will appear on all bottles (325ml and 640ml) and cans (320ml) of Guinness Foreign Extra Stout sold in Malaysia from now until November, while stocks last.
We’ll be giving away 10 Guinness tees to 10 of our lucky readers, thanks to our friends from Guinness Malaysia. To win, all you have to do is tell us the names of the 3 collectible limited edition designs that was just launched in celebration of Guinness’ 50 years in Malaysia.
E-mail your answer along with your details (Name, IC, Contact) to email@example.com before 6pm on 7th November 2015. We’ll e-mail the winners once the contest has closed.
Good luck ;)
For more information, visit Guinness’ Facebook page or search for the hashtag #GUINNESSMY50.