Guinness stout, the Irish alcoholic drink also known as ‘Ang Ji Gao’ locally, celebrates its 256th birthday yesterday.
How did Guinness – as ang moh as a name can possibly be – end up with a badass Hokkien moniker in Singapore?
We investigate. Here are five things about stout in Singapore. Cheers.
1. The origins behind its ‘red tongued dog’ nickname
Ever noticed the intimidating ‘Red Tongued Dog’ on Guinness bottles? This is unique to bottles in Singapore – the bottles in Malaysia and Indonesia have a bulldog.
What’s the story behind the ‘Ang Ji Gao’ though?
In the 1860s, stout was shipped from Ireland in bulk and was only bottled at its destination by the distributors.
The distributor here in Singapore, Blood Wolfe, used a wolf’s head emblem to distinguish themselves. As locals found it rather difficult to pronounce Guinness back then, they started calling it ‘Ang Ji Gao’ or Red Tongued Dog.
And that, my friend, made an everlasting impression because the name (and the label) is still used today.
Blood Wolfe. Any Game of Thrones fan would be proud.
2. It is over 5 times older than Singapore
Guinness has been brewed for 256 years since 1759 – more than 5 times older than Singapore. GN250 was in 2009. Even if you consider that modern Singapore was founded in 1819, the beer has still got 60 years on us.
3. This commercial
Yes, we all remember George Lam’s moustache and his iconic “Are you afraid of the dark” punchline. But this commercial takes the cake. Or barrel.
A tree, freshly struck by lightning, standing between you and your after-work stout? No biggie for the Singaporean man driving a truck because every man in Singapore who drives a truck has a chainsaw somewhere. So when life throws you a fallen tree, create timber. Because that’s how Singaporean dudes roll.
This actually gives new meaning to “I came, I saw and I conquered.”
4. It sieves out those that can’t take a little hardship
Guinness is a full-flavored beer with way more going on than your usual beer. There’s a reason why.
The short answer: extra hops in the beer.
Originally extra hops were needed so that the beer could survive the arduous journey from Ireland to Singapore. However, Singaporeans enjoyed the taste so much that hops are still added today, even though the beer is brewed in Singapore.
If we can handle bold, intense stout with double the hops, we can face most things in life. Like a fallen tree.
5. It’s like peanut butter
Have you heard of mixing Guinness with other beers? Apparently, this is a thing. Locally, blogfather Mr Brown has done it. We call it beer gao here. Elsewhere in the world, Guinness is an integral part of a ‘black and tan’.
Due to its popularity as a stout and its own distinct taste, the dark beverage is enjoyed not just on its own but added to lager to enhance the flavour
To put it in bread and butter terms, think of it as the good ol’ peanut butter.
Sure it goes well with bread but deep down inside us, we know that it tastes the best on it’s own.
Think about it.
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