Monday, 25 January 2021

Irish Porter after the Emergency

Just after the end of the war, Guinness was still producing more than a quarter of a million barrels of Porter annually. Making up almost a quarter of their Irish sales. That changed when the 1950s rolled around and Porter sales began to slip.

It all looks rather like what happened in London. At a certain point, Porter went into terminal decline in Ireland. In the early 1960s, it stopped being a mainstream beer. At least in the Republic of Ireland. It remained reasonably popular in Norther Ireland, particularly in Belfast. And that’s where the last Guinness Porter was served in the early 1970s.

Guinness sales in Ireland 1946 - 1955
Year Extra Stout Porter total % Porter
1946 987,051 289,512 1,276,563 22.68%
1947 882,284 257,973 1,140,257 22.62%
1948 998,086 284,511 1,282,597 22.18%
1949 1,074,492 290,411 1,364,903 21.28%
1950 1,104,564 268,486 1,373,050 19.55%
1951 1,168,162 243,484 1,411,646 17.25%
1952 1,046,983 228,841 1,275,824 17.94%
1953 1,076,367 210,613 1,286,980 16.36%
1954 1,104,830 175,397 1,280,227 13.70%
1955 1,157,655 138,842 1,296,497 10.71%
"A Bottle of Guinness please" by David Hughes, pages 276-279.




Martyn Cornell said...

That's an average yearly decline in porter sales of seven per cent, which is much faster than "demographic decline", the two per cent of sales you lose ewvery year simply because your customers are dying. That suggests it was a genuine turning by consumers from porter to stout, which is unusual - the decline in sales of mild in the UK, for example, can be accounted entirely to demographic decline after 1960.

Anonymous said...

To what extent was this just rebranding? I'm curious if there was a significant difference between porter and weaker stout, and if Guiness was changing the names to reflect customer preferences in naming more than anything else. Would a modern day low ABV Guiness Stout be thought of as a porter in the 1950s?

Ron Pattinson said...


there wasn't any real difference between Guinness Porter and Stout, other than the strength. Post-WW II Guinness Extra Stout was about the same strength as pre-WW II Porter.

Ron Pattinson said...


a good point. Perhaps some Porter drinkers switched to Stout because it was a similar strength to pre-WW II Porter.

I suspect this happened in London, where Porter sales fell off a cliff after WW I. Even more extreme that in Ireland. While Stout sales held up very well.