We have had the following query from Dave Thomas <firstname.lastname@example.org>, one of our members in the United States:
I am writing a brewing history of Gilpin County, Colorado where I live. It is the smallest county in Colorado with only 5,000 residents today, whilst there were an estimated 15,000 gold and silver miners in the late 1850s and early 1860s.
Gold and silver mining began here in 1859 and brewing started in 1862, lasting until 1898.
One fact that I need to cover is what the thirsty miners drank from 1859 till 1862?
I presume it was mostly distilled spirits but wonder if Guinness made it this far west at that time?
Do you know where (or from whom) I might find out when Guinness first came to the U.S. and where it was distributed?
Thanks very much
As Diageo are Corporate members I forwarded Daves query to the ever helpful Christine in the Archives. She in, turn, forwarded it to Eibhlin in the Guinness Archive in Dublin (Dont forget, we are due to visit this as part of our forthcoming day at St Jamess Gate in June) and she has sent the following fascinating information:
Dear Jeff and Dave,
My colleague Christine in the Diageo Archive has forwarded your mail to the Guinness Archive in Dublin.
The first record we hold in the Guinness Archive of exports to the US, is a shipment to South Carolina in 1817. The next reference to GUINNESS stout in the US, is a shipment to New York in 1842. I dont have a record of when GUINNESS stout first arrived in Colorado, Im afraid.
Thanks very much Eibhlin and Jeff. That is helpful to me,
Do you know what style of beer would have been shipped to South Carolina in 1817? As I understand it Guinness Stout was introduced in 1840.
It can possibly be surmised that a few hogsheads of Guinness Stout made their way west during the gold rushes of 1849 (California) and 1859 (Colorado).
The early export records that we hold in the Guinness Archive are in a ledger entitled Brewery Annals which cites the year of export to particular countries/ destinations in the 19th century.
The entry for 1817 reads South Carolina 8 Hhds of Porter sent to one John Heavy, 16th Oct, therefore the style of beer exported was Porter. (Guinness Extra Stout has its origins in 1821 when Arthur Guinness II laid down a recipe for Extra Superior Porter).
I have not come across any specific mentions of GUINNESS Porter/ stout being shipped west during the Gold Rush period; however, it is quite probable that GUINNESS stout was consumed out west during this period. The reason it is so hard to be definitive from the Guinness Archive records, is that the Guinness Company sold hogshead of beer to 3rd party bottling companies, mainly based in the UK, who in turn bottled, shipped and distributed the beer in overseas countries. Therefore any specific evidence of GUINNESS in particular parts of the US would lie in the records of the bottling companies who distributed the beer, and not with the Guinness brewery.