What is St. Patrick's day without a pint of Guinness.
Arthur Guinness started brewing ales from 1759 in Leixlip, then at the St. James's Gate Brewery, Dublin, Ireland. On 31 December he signed (up to) a 9,000 year lease at £45 per annum for the unused brewery. Ten years later on 19 May 1769 Guinness exported his ale for the first time, when six and a half barrels were shipped to England.
The company pioneered several quality control efforts. The brewery hired the statistician William Sealy Gosset in 1899, who achieved lasting fame under the pseudonym "Student" for techniques developed for Guinness, particularly Student's t-distribution and the even more commonly known Student's t-test.
Because of the Irish Free State's "Control of Manufactures Act" in 1932, the company moved its headquarters to London later that year. Guinness brewed their last porter in 1974.
In 1983 a non-family chief executive Ernest Saunders was appointed and arranged the reverse take-over of the leading Scotch whisky producer Distillers in 1986. Saunders was then asked to resign following revelations that the Guinness stock price had probably been illegally manipulated (see Guinness share-trading fraud). As Distillers was worth more than Guinness plc, the Guinness family shareholding in the merged company went below 10%, and today no member of the family sits on the board. Guinness acquired the Distillers Company in 1986.
The company merged with Grand Metropolitan in 1997 to form Diageo plc, capitalised in 2006 at about 40 billion euro. Although not officially fully taking over, the Guinness family still owns 51% of the brewery. The Guinness brewery in Park Royal, London closed in 2005. The production of all Guinness sold in the UK and Ireland was switched to St. James's Gate Brewery Dublin.