Today is St. Patrick's Day, which means it is also a day when many pints of Guinness will be consumed. And when we say many, we mean roughly 13 million pints over the course of 24 hours. Clearly no excuse is needed to drink a pint of Guinness today of all days, but there are, in fact, many reasons to feel good about raising a glass of the dark-and-creamy stout in honor of the Patron Saint of Ireland. Here are five.
1. It might be the most socially progressive beer.
When the business-minded Arthur Guinness signed a 9,000-year lease on the outskirts of Dublin in 1759 (for a jaw-dropping 45£ per annum), he wasn't just establishing one of the most famous and well-respected beer brands in the world. He was also setting the groundwork for one of the most pioneering companies in terms of social welfare.
Long before pension plans and maternity leave were common practice, Guinness offered them. His health insurance programs ensured a higher quality of life for his employees than most other workers in Ireland.
2. It's healthy! (Maybe.)
You shouldn't believe everything (or anything?) you see in ad campaigns, but "Guinness Is Good for You" was certainly effective. Ireland's doctors were known to prescribe Guinness for every ailment under their anemic sun and even today, Guinness is considered a health-giving libation that restores the spirit and body.
But is there any truth to the claims? Well, maybe!
For starters, for such a rich and unctuous drink, Guinness is surprisingly low in calories — a 12-ounce pour is 125 calories (only slightly more than Bud Light) — and it feels much more filling. It's also relatively low in alcohol, at 4.2% ABV. It's also true that drinking in moderation has been linked to various health benefits, and a study from the University of Wisconsin found that Guinness (perhaps thanks to antioxidants) may reduce the risk of blood clots and heart attacks.
The point is, if you're going to have a beer, a Guinness is a pretty good option. Still, it's beer — not kale — and, importantly, the company doesn't make any health or medical claims.
3. It will be vegan.
After 256 years of using isinglass, a gelatin-like material derived from fish bladders, as a part of its filtration system, Guinness is going fish-less. The company announced its intentions to eliminate isinglass in late 2015 and the transition to a state-of-the-art filtration system that will transform Guinness into a vegan beer is underway. And if you have a Guinness in Australia — or if you drink a Blonde American Lager — it is already so.
4. It's great craic!
It's Friday and we don't know about you, but it has been a week. What better excuse to blow off work a bit early and prop up at one of the countless traditional Irish pubs pulling those millions of pints of Guinness? A pour or two of the black stout will ensure a lively evening of craic, as they say in Ireland. And by craic they mean good times.
5. It's traditional.
In a world where variety and change is considered a surefire way to grow a business, Guinness has steadfastly defied this rule by playing it simple. True, in recent years, Guinness has branched out in an effort to compete with smaller craft breweries, but when you think of Guinness you still think of stout. Craft breweries will come and go, but the beloved brew — with its thick, creamy head — will never go out of fashion. Nor is it likely that its logo, which features the signature of Arthur Guinness and a harp, an emblem of Irish independence and resiliency, will ever get an update.
In summary, there is nothing more Irish that can be done on this day than to take a sip of Guinness, savoring it both for its heady flavor, its healthy(ish) nature, and the spirit of the Irish people that it represents. Or perhaps you'd rather eat your Guinness? If that's the case, try this chocolate Guinness cake from Nigella Lawson.
How are you celebrating St. Patrick's Day? Will you have a pint of Guinness?