GUINNESS IN AMERICA
Repeal era ad for the first shipment of Irish-brewed Guinness Stout
(click for full view)
In 1934, long time Irish bottler of Guinness Stout (and US importer of Guinness, Bass Ale and Perrier water), E. & J. Burke, Ltd., opened a brewery in Long Island City (Queens), NY.
[LEFT] Burke brewmaster and eventual president William Knecht was an active member of the NYC branch of the MASTER BREWERS ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA and may have previously worked at S. Liebmann & Sons, brewer of Rheingold, during the Prohibition era. William Winkler would continue at the brewery after the Guinness takeover as Brewmaster.
The company brewed their own Burke’s Ale and Stout and, as war in Europe loomed in the late '30's, Guinness and Burke began discussions about brewing Guinness in the Burke facility for the US market.
In the 1940s, Guinness bought the Burke brewery from the failing Burke (continuing to run the company as an importer/distributor) and after the ending of WWII announced they were brewing Guinness Extra Stout for the US market. It was only the second brewery Guinness would run outside of Ireland. (The first being the long-lived UK Park Royal brewery in London which closed in 2005).
* Note - recipient name changed in above letter to protect the innocent
(Above, left) US-brewed Guinness Stout was (Above, right) Philadelphia ad
available as a draught product. Previously, since
Repeal all Guinness in the US had been bottled.
In 1948, US beer imports from Ireland (safely assumed to be mostly Guinness) totaled about 10,000 barrels. That would drop to only between 700-1700 barrels for the period the US Guinness brewery was open. Traditionally, when a beer is brewed in a second country, the original version is no longer imported. This supposedly was not the case with Guinness. The US-brewed "Extra Stout" was marketed alongside the Irish-brewed "Foreign Extra Stout".
See 1951 label of FES, bottled in Liverpool by Guinness Exports Ltd., imported by Trenton Beverage Co. of Trenton, NJ below.
The Long Island City brewery had a reported capacity of 100,000 barrels, although total Guinness sales never reached close to that point. 1951 sales of Guinness amounted to only 15,000 barrels, even as ads suggested the domestic product was about half the retail price.The Long Island City brewery closed in 1954.
POST-REPEAL ERA TIME LINE OF GUINNESS IN THE USA
1933 - Spring/Summer - E. J. Burke announces the building of Burke Brewery, Inc. in Long Island City, NY "one of the few breweries in the East to be built entirely new...". Some reports were headlined "Plant to produce famous Guinness' Stout in Queens".
1933 - December 7 - First shipment of Guinness Stout to the US (ad from Arthur Guinness & Sons NYC office 501 5th Ave) days after full Repeal of National Prohibition.
1934 - Guinness bottled by Burke, Bull Dog, Dog's Head and White Label sold in the US.
1935 - US-Ireland trade pact cut US tariff on Irish stout by 50% - nearly all the barley and hops used in brewing Guinness are purchased from the US.
1937 - Oct. 1 - W. A. Taylor & Co. becomes sole distributor in the US for Guinness Stout.
1938 - Burke Stout introduced.
1943 - G. F. Heublein & Bro., sole distributor for USA.
1943 -Guinness buy E. & J. Burke, and continues to run it as their subsidiary.
1944 - E. J. Burke, sole distributor for the USA.
1948 - First US-brewed Guinness.
1949 -Guinness announces the renaming of Burke Brewery, Inc. to "Arthur Guinness Sons, Inc." (coincidentally in the midst of the New York Brewery Workers Strike) and the release of US brewed Guinness Extra Stout in ads.
1949 - US brewed kegged Guinness Extra Stout available, ends importation of Irish-brewed Foreign Extra Stout.
1952 - Sued by Dublin Distributors, NYC - Guinness wholesaler which lost the business to Guinness-owned Burke. Dublin begins to import Beamish Stout to replace it.
1954 - Guinness brewery in LIC, NY closed. Announcement that Foreign Extra Stout brewed in Ireland would again be exported to the US. Signs deal with Goebel Brewing Co., Detroit, for Guinness-branded Ale and Beer for the US market.
1956-59 - US Guinness ads for FES "Guinness Exports, ltd, Liverpool, England"
1958 - Heublein becomes US importer.
1960s - Extra Stout replaces FES for the US market .
1963 - Guinness buys local NYC-area Dublin Distributors.
1963 - Harp exported to the US, uses corporate name of "Dublin Distributors"as the importer.
1964-65 - Creation of Guinness-Harp Corp., US import subsidiary of A. Guinness & Son.
1965 - Guinness Draught exported to the US (New York City, St. Louis).
1971 - Guinness-Harp Corp. opens new US headquarters in LIC. Also owns NY wholesale distributor, Metrobeer, which, besides their own Bass, Harp and Guinness also distributes Beck's, Carlsberg, Labatt, Piel/Trommers and Schlitz in NYC (possibly the former Dublin?).
1970s - Some Extra Stout in the US market brewed in Canada (Labatt) Labatt brews Guinness Extra Stout for the Canadian market.
1982 - Guinness-Harp closes US beer wholesale divisions, Metrobeer and Quality Beverages.
1980s - Guinness-Harp name changed to Guinness Imports
1990s - Guinness Imports buys All Brand Importers (Pilsner Urquell, Moosehead and Mexican brands Dos Equis, Sol and Superior, etc.)
1990s - Guinness Imports name changed to Guinness-Bass
(Above) Case of Guinness Stout 6 oz. "split" bottles from "E. & J. Burke, Ltd. LIC, NY"
(Below, left) - The Burke's Ale label credited to the US Guinness Brewery.
(Right) 1939 ad for Burke's Ale. Guinness would continue to brew and market it and other Burke-branded beers on and off during their ownership of the brewery. At various times it would be marketed as "XXX Ale" or "Superior Ale".
(Below) Burke's domestically-brewed Stout, first released in 1938 and also available in kegs, competed with imported Guinness in the 1930s through the WWII period, and would continue to be brewed after Guinness took over the LIC brewery, into the late 1940s. Note the similarity of the "black cat" label to the pre-Pro Burke bottled Guinness at the top of this page.
By comparison, in the US at the time
Guinness Stout in the sold for 30¢-38¢ for 11.5 oz. bottle or 25-27¢ for a 6 oz "split".
(right) - The Guinness FES bottle in the US in the 1950's-early 60's at the time imported by the liquor company Heublein, Though primarily a distiller, spirits importer and food company, Heublein would also briefly own the Theo. Hamm Brewing Co. in the late 1960's.
The 1964 official minimum price list in New Jersey for the only Guinness available in the US at the
time- Guinness Foreign Extra Stout, brewed in Ireland.
(Above) The new Guinness Draught, created in the late 1950s, would be introduced to the US market in 1965-66. As late as 1979, the US market would account for a mere 1% of Guinness' total barrelage, with New York City accounting for half of the Guinness sold in the US. Only 33 bars in the city at the time sold Draught Guinness, with 18 of them in Manhattan (--- New York magazine 3-19-79).
(Below) Spring, 2010 - Diageo announces they are test marketing GUINNESS FOREIGN EXTRA STOUT in New York City and Atlanta, GA.
Sept. 2010 Diageo announces national distribution of FES, Oct. 1
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(Below) A company known as ARC Group, Inc., of Ashburn, VA. has imported Guinness Foreign Extra Stout from a licensed brewery in Cameroon. ARC once had a website which noted this African brewed Guinness as one of their products, but it no longer seems to be up on the internet.