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More Guinness is drunk in Nigeria than, wait for it, Ireland.
This year Guinness marks its 250th anniversary, but the dark stout only arrived in Nigeria in the 1940s when the country was a British colony. The brew soon whet local appetites and by 1962 Guinness had set up a Nigerian brewery, its first outside the British Isles. Sales continue to grow steadily, says Guinness Nigeria.
Nigeria is a huge consumer market with a population of 140 million, fueled by a multi-billion dollar oil-based economy. But with endemic corruption, power and infrastructure problems and a legacy of political instability, few global brands have dared to set up operations in Africa’s most populous nation.
Although Nigerian Guinness looks the same as what you'd find in Dublin — the same branding and trademark black brew — Nigerian Guinness Foreign Extra Stout is a very different beast from the original Irish draught.
Nigerian Guinness is a bitter-sweet, syrupy drink. It costs about $2 a bottle and, subject to power cuts, is typically served ice-cold in liter-sized bottles, never draught. And with a 7.5 percent alcohol content, almost double that of a draught in Ireland or the U.S., it kicks a powerful punch.
Even the raw ingredients are different — Nigerian Guinness is made from locally harvested maize and sorghum — not the usual barley.
If many Nigerian drinkers are unaware of the drink's Irish heritage, it could have something to do with the company’s clever marketing campaigns, which have gone out of their way to foster a sense of ownership of the Guinness brand. On billboards in Lagos, the Guinness harp is morphed into an outline of Africa.
Other adverts are aspirational or quaintly appealing, like those depicting Guinness–supping black businessmen in expensive snappy suits. Others feature an African in traditional garb and spear with the question: “Are you the warrior?”
For those drinking here at the Seaside Bar, the answer is yes.
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