Happy 25th: the widget endures
Guinness celebrates take home taste revolution
1988: the year of Perestroika, the election of George H W Bush as US President, and Canadian singer Celine Dion improbably winning the Eurovision song contest – for Switzerland.
It wasn’t recognised immediately but with the benefit of hindsight the greatest moment for the brewing industry 25 years past was the introduction of the Guinness ‘widget’, the innovation that offered a bit of pub taste in a take-home can.
Guinness master brewer Fergal Murray commented last month, ”the task was to put Draught Guinness in cans and make it every bit as good as Guinness in pubs. It was long journey but every step was a masterful experiment and the end result is considered one of the major innovations in the evolution of the beer industry.”
Now in its second generation, the small plastic ‘widget’ device sits at the bottom of the can until it is opened. Once opened, the floating widget jets nitrogen through the beer, creating a long–lasting creamy head. And, of course, the widget is no longer exclusive to Guinness – virtually every major global brewer has devised their own version of this enduring service innovation.
The genius of the widget hasn’t gone unnoticed. It has received a Queen’s Award for Technology Advancement. In a triumph of consumer satisfaction, it was named in a 2004 UK survey as “the greatest invention of the past 40 years” surpassing, amongst other notable advances, space flight, mobile phones, and computers.