The Irish hate Guinness?

Pint of GuinnessNo they don’t. With 10 million pints poured a day, Guinness is still very popular.

However, many younger tourists get this impression when visiting Ireland and drinking with the 20-something Irish population. I was reading today on about an experience blogger Mike had when visiting Ireland a couple of years ago that gave him the impression the Irish hate Guinness.

In his blog, Mike says, “One night, we met a couple from Belfast. An odd thing happened each time we stepped to the bar. First, I suggested beers. Much to my horror, Stephen said he’d have a Budweiser (foreign, American beer to him). I ordered a Guinness (foreign, Irish beer to me).”

I hear ya, brother. I had a similar shock/horror experience in England during a visit in the early 90s.

While staying in London I noticed people my age (early 20s) were not only drinking Bud – instead of the excellent array of local micro-brew English ales – but would conspicuously hold their overpriced Budweiser bottles label-out so people could see what they were drinking.

True story.

See, in the Clinton years, America had started to redeem itself in the world’s eyes. The pre-Iraq USA was kind of cool back then – a prosperous land of riches, hip-hop and opportunity. Budweiser was new in England and having a Bud in your hand was cool. Perhaps more importantly to the British teenager in the 90s, there was no way their parents were going to drink mass-produced, over-priced, tasteless yankee swill. Their parents’ disapproval, of course, just made it even more popular to British teenagers: this Bud’s for you.

This kind of thing seems to happen every 20 years or so – the younger generation look at what their parents are drinking and purposefully drink something else.

A similar thing has happened in Ireland. Guinness is seen by a lot of young people as an old man’s drink. Do they want to be like that old white-haired guy in the Irish cap on a postcard with Guinness in his hand? Hell no! Being identified as an Irish leprechaun is their worst nightmare. They want to be like Eminem in a track suit and with red, white and blue on their beer label! They want to be young, hip and cool. If Grandad’s drinking Guinness, eh, I’ll try a pint of that Budweiser there, boss.

And the great thing is, the lads at Guinness know this. That’s why Budweiser is brewed by Guinness in Ireland.

It may come as a shock to tourists, but most Irish pubs have about 6 beers on tap and they are: Guinness, Budweiser, Smithwicks, Heinekin, Coors Lite and Carlsberg. Four of those of those beers are from the Guinness guys who, by the way, are actually a London-based company called Diageo.

Yes, Guinness is not an Irish company. So where are the “Irish beers?”

What Irish beers?

Get ready for another shock: Ireland has only a handful of microbreweries (like The Franciscan Well in Cork) and you will find their beers on tap almost nowhere other than at the brewery.

Call it marketing, call it a better alchohol-delivery system (Bud is higher in alchohol than most other beers on tap), call it lack of competition . . . whatever it is, Budweiser may suck as a beer, but the Irish love it.

If you intend to come to Ireland and drink beer, you should definitely check out my guide to finding the perfect pint in Ireland.