It began in Ireland in the late 1700s. The water in Ireland, indeed throughout Europe, was famously undrinkable, and the gin and whiskey that took its place was devastating civil society. It was a disease ridden, starvation plagued, alcoholic age, and Christians like Arthur Guinness-as well as monks and even evangelical churches-brewed beer that provided a healthier alternative to the poisonous waters and liquors of the times. This is where the Guinness tale began. Now, 246 years and 150 countries later, Guinness is a global brand, one of the most consumed beverages in the world. The tale that unfolds during those two and a half centuries has power to thrill audiences today: the generational drama, business adventure, industrial and social reforms, deep-felt faith, and the beer itself.
This book is a little bit history, a little bit morality play, and a little bit personal reflection. It is more focused than I expected on the religious legacy of the Guinness family, but was nonetheless an enjoyable read. There were a few places where I thought the religious rhetoric got a bit strong, but then the author always dialed it back a bit. Though I'm not sure I agree about beer being the savior of the working class, it was interesting to read about the social changes in Dublin that can be traced to the Guinness family. All in all, a great choice for anyone who loves stout.