03 June 2010

Book Review: The Search for God and Guinness

If you like beer, especially stout, and history, you’re going to like Stephen Mansfield’s latest work, The Search for God and Guinness. Mansfield tells the story of the Guinness family and how many of its foremost leaders took their Christian faith seriously. So serious that they not only made Guinness the number one selling stout but also used their wealth to help the poor and needy. Moreover, they made the Guinness brewery an outstanding place to work even by today’s standards.

Mansfield, who researched the Guinness family well, does a wonderful job drawing us in to the Guinness family and detailing many of their contributions to society and indeed the world. This is not a book, however, if you’re looking for brewing techniques or beer marketing strategies. Rather, it’s a trip through history beginning before the days of Arthur Guinness and his successful brewery all the way to the present. Most of all, we see the faith, generosity, and social conscience that was so much a part of many of their lives. The family legacy was handed down father to son for two centuries, sometimes to the unwilling. Yet, the Guinness name prevailed and the company prospered and often did so in difficult circumstances. Not all of the family history was rosy either for we also learn a bit about the black sheep in the line that squandered their family money and were a disappointment. And the reader will see how two world wars caused sales to plummet but with the appropriate postwar changes, the company rebounded and came to be what it is today.

This is certainly an entertaining read. It’s not technical but rather informative. As a beer lover and Christian myself, I wish there had been more detail about their Christian beliefs. With the exception of Henry Guinness who became a notable preacher, this detail is lacking. Perhaps there was not enough to document.

Overall, this is a fine read and I eagerly recommend it, especially as you sit and devour it with a tall Guinness at your side.

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