Hidden pint-glass QR code is only visible when filled with Guinness

A clever bit of advertising gimmickry from Guinness: these pint glasses bear QR codes than can't be read when the glass is empty, nor when it is filled with amber-colored beers. But when filled with black, murky Guinness, the revealed QR code can finally be scanned: "it tweets about your pint, updates your facebook status, checks you in via 4 square, downloads coupons and promotions, invites your friends to join, and even launches exclusive Guiness content."

Yeah, so the last part is a bit of a nightmare.

Guinness QR Cup


  1. Next step:  the pub bartenders must replicate the android bar code in the foam, for great marketing justice.

        1. You’re either a marketing professional…or a yeti! Because only marketing people & fictional beasts care about QR codes, I think? Actually, okay, instead of making a joke, lets actually talk about it! So…my experience with QR codes is that using them is never intuitive or easy & the content it leads to is always disappointing & slapdash. What do you like about them, as a consumer/user? What are some successful ones?

          1. I love the potential of QR codes and am usually disappointed by the execution, since it’s usually on an ad and when you scan it  you just go to the corporate site.  QR codes can be great when they’re not being used by ad firms though – I saw one once that when you scanned it it lead to a poem, and my local hackerspace had a QR code on the door that when you scanned it it would automatically buzz you into the space.  So there’s a lot of potential, if only more creative people would start doing stuff with them, and fewer corporate ad execs.

          2. The buzzer thing is cute; the poem is a perfect example of why I don’t care about QR codes…why not just…put a sticker of the poem?

          3.  Well they’re hard to use because they were invented for Toyota in industrial usage. I hear that they’re used a lot in Japan because they have a strong cellphone culture, and they’ve just been slowly leaking into the west.

            At least they’re de facto open source, and not some BS proprietary charge by use thing.

          4.  There’s nothing difficult about using QR codes–you just download a free app to your phone and point your phone’s camera at it. They haven’t necessarily been implemented well by people who might get a lot out of them; I saw one on a billboard advertising a concert that might have led to a site telling you the date and time, ticket info, etc. but the billboard was on a busy street where there was nowhere to pull over and scan the thing and not enough time for one’s passenger to whip out their phone to get it (and probably would have been a very bad place for the driver to do so). I wonder if maybe some of the people that might otherwise use these haven’t done so because they remember the debacle of the CueCat and don’t want to invest in this.

          5. I dunno, I feel like downloading an app is a significant barrier to use; as is using a camera & then porting the image into the app. I’ve fumbled around with them & from a personal perspective find them to be HEAVILY weighted toward “effort” without any “reward.” That is– okay, having an app, lets say you already have the app, & it is one that automatically uses your camera & stuff, & lets say for the sake of argument that your phone has a good network connection & then the site loads up…& you get…like, an advertisement? Hoo-ray?

          6. I always felt the same way, til I discovered that my 3DS can read QR codes to import miis designed by other people. I had a truly delightful half-hour browsing the web for well-made miis of famous people and characters (Professor Layton! Admiral Ackbar!) and scanning them in. It seems to have spawned a couple communities of people creating and sharing things, because the QR codes make the transfer asynchronous and nigh-instantaneous, whereas any other mode of transferring the information would be much more complicated to arrange.

            It’s only one example, and a very niche use at that– but I think it demonstrates the potential of QR, as a way for people to quickly share complex information.

          7. I download Miis from “Check Mii Out,” a free Wii channel…but I get your idea. Niche examples are totally reasonable, because it could be a fine application for somethings– it doesn’t have to be universal. I think games are probably a good example of where they could work– like if I could scan a QR code & unlock a new EVE spaceship or a WoW axe or something. Something you “get” in a digital capacity.

            Then again…why not…just have…a url?

          8. There’s a bunch of QR codes scattered about the Johnson Space Center in Houston, as well as White Rock Lake in Dallas and nearby Dallas Arboretum. I’m not sure if the ones around the lake were put there by the city or by gung-ho nature conservatives, but it’s interesting to learn about native Texas plants along the trail that goes around the lake.

          9. But I mean– again, wouldn’t it be more efficient to print the info itself– or, if that isn’t an option, to write a URL?

          10. There may be more info than there’s room for print on the sign, or it may be info that changes periodically and it’s easier to change the website than it is to create and replace a sign. And having to manually type in an URL is less convenient than opening an app like ScanLife that automatically scans the QR code and brings up the site–I just used it for the Guinness glass and it took about two seconds (albeit to go to the GoDaddy placeholder). I think that you’re seriously overestimating how hard it is to use.

          11. Really? Because I think “Hey, own a smartphone” is a barrier. “Hey, have this app” is a barrier. “Hey, use this app” is a barrier. “Hey, have wifi” is a barrier. & then…what, it spits out…like…an ad at worst or a wikipedia page at best?

            The changing content is a good point.

  2. Wow, so you get yourself a glass of beer and then your phone does the informational equivalent of kicking you in the junk before you drink it. Awesome. (For people with boobs but no kickable junk, feel free to substitute “punching you in the boob” for “kicking you in the junk.)

    1. For some reason, people seem to view this as a feature.

      QR codes of modest area don’t have enough capacity for much in the way of an executable payload, so they rely entirely on the phone voluntarily decoding the embedded URL and then fetching it.

      Why one would do that, I’m not sure; but at least it isn’t the bad old days of boot-sector viruses or anything…

      1.  So, really, it’s less about taking a punt to the bits before you drink, more like willingly volunteering to have your bollocks punted to the moon before you drink your pint.

      2. It /is/ possible to embed a specially crafted compressed data set into a QR code. If there’s a flaw in the decoder, it might be possible to pass control to a bit of code.
        I can imagine a feature-rich scanner reading a version 39 QRCode, decoding it, obeying the header that says “zip file”, decompressing it, obeying the header in /that/ which says “here’s your new firmware, update next reboot”…

        1. A scanner that would download, decompress, and execute the contents of a zip file?

          That sounds less “feature-rich” than it does “trojan.”

      1. A friend of mine went to Amsterdam and brought me back a sticker from the notorious Bananen Bar (where the lady performers do “exotic” things with bananas for the crowd’s edification).

        So if someone sees the sticker and asks me, “oh wow, you’ve been there? Tell me about it!” I have to say “no, it’s just a sticker a friend gave me.”

        That’s kinda like drinking Coke out of that QR code glass and scanning all its Guinness marketing into your online presence. People will ask you, “so you were having a Guinness, eh?” and you’ll have to say “no, it was just a Coke… ”

        Same kind of flaccid, underwhelming answer. No freaky banana girls; no satisfying Guinness stout. Just your dumb ass with a Coke and a smile.

        1. People will ask you, “so you were having a Guinness, eh?”

          Good lord, I hope not!  For their sake more than mine.  I’m not a Facebook user, but is this really what “social networks” do to people?

          1. A little banality among friends is okay from time to time, but social networks allow it to run rampant.

          2. Worse, people who are likely to put that in their profile are also likely to tweet or update their status when it’s time for the Guinness to come out.

    1. Use of any non-Guinness contrast fluid constitutes the production of an unauthorized derivative work of their copyrighted QR code and will be prosecuted to the fullest extent o the law.

      1. Luckily, if they send a takedown notice, you can just consume the infringing drink in order to take it down.

    1.  Looking at the original landing page for the URL in the QR code, I can see why that page has been taken down.  “A first of it’s kind, product-activated QR code.” 


      1. “Cringe” is right. There should be no apostrophe in that usage of the word “its.” 

  3. Would much rather fill it with a more traditional stout.

    Guinness is an okay beer, especially for a beer produced in such vast quantities, but it really bothers me that something with that flavor is what people think of when you say “stout”. It tastes nothing at all like a great many of the beers in the stout category it ends up an ambassador for.

    1. Guinness is a traditional stout, the stuff has been produced almost as long as the word stout has described a type of beer. I can’t promise it hasn’t changed considerably since then, not having tried the 1759 batches, but considering its long history I think it has as much claim on the words ‘traditional’ and ‘stout’ as you can get.

      It bothers me that people think of Johnnie Walker when they think of Whisky, but that doesn’t stop it being piss Whisky.

      1. I dunno…Johnnie Walker  is fairly decent, the Red Label, anyway. 

        J. Walker is kinda like Smirnoff Vodka in that Johnnie Walker Scotch and Smirnoff Vodka are yard-sticks by which the others are measured – a kind of baseline for a decent product-archetype , is it better than Johnnie Walker or Smirnoff , or worse than…? Heinekin is a similar case for import lagers IMHO.

        The more expensive Johnnie Walker label colors like black, Blue, Polka-dot (etcetera) I like less. They are kinda too mild for my taste, and expensive – man, the prices for those are too high for what you get. 

        I think it’s marketing that gets non-Scotch lovers or newbies to think that the more mild flavour means it is higher-quality and worth the higher price. 

        On the other hand, maybe Johnnie Walker, the darker labels in particular, serve as a smooth, easy drinking gateway to exploring the world o’Scotch.

        Now, young (unaged) or minimally-aged  single malt Scotch is really great, I can’t believe it is so hard to find  (at least where I live – Oregon, which has state-run  liquor stores.) 

        Really, the stuff is worth checking out, I think it might be the ‘Next’ grappa….after which I can say ‘I drank young Scotch before it was cool.’ Just like I say about grappa. /edit/ ;p

        As for Guinness – I agree it is traditional stout (whatever traditional stout might be)….reminds me of Johnnie Walker and the others in this respect…

        1. If you’re looking for minimally-aged Scotch (There’s no unaged, because in order for it to be even called Scotch Whisky it must be aged for at least three years), it may be worth checking out stores in areas that have a large Italian community. Younger whisky sells well in Italy, and many distilleries make expressions specially for that market.

          1. Thanks for the tip P-cat.

            Yes, you’re right about the three-year thing….I used to have an friend who had an acquaintance who had a friend in Scotland mail him actual unaged proto-Scotch directly from the source. The only thing I know about him is that his dad (or dad in-law?) worked there. 
            I have heard something about actual unaged would-be-Scotch being sold somewhere in the U.S. as Scottish moonshine but I don’t remember where I heard this.

            /edit/ Just remembered, then looked it up. It’s called ‘new make’ in the U.K. It’s legal to sell, but it just can’t be called Scotch on the label.

        2. There’s Johnny Walker… and then there’s Scotch. And THEN, there’s Laphroaig. (Which I like to call “Ambrosia”, or sometimes “the blood of Christ”, if I’m feeling facetiously blasphemous.)

          1. Laphroaig 10 year cask strength is sooo divine.  Some might use the word stankybogfire instead of divine, but I go with divine.

        3. Even amongst cheap and nasty whisky’s I wouldn’t pick red label, I’d normally pick a bottle of J&B if I’m looking in that price range. As for the more expensive varieties of JW you’ve nailed, they’re pricey and they’re uninteresting.

          Personally I rarely drink Scotch these days. I’m getting much more enjoyment of sampling whisky’s from other parts of the world. 

          I’d recommend the Hellyers Road slightly peated for something quite delicious.

          1. Thanks for the recommendations. 

            I like JW the same way I like Heineken or Pabst, and I’m a beer enthusiast – kinda the way I’ll east at Subway or Wendy’s. 

            But if I’m buying I wont buy Heiny or JW any more, not for a long time as there are better choices like as you said, such as J & B. I too am finding a lot of interesting non-Scotch whiskys. 

            I’ve never tried Hellyers Road (IIRC), I’ll be sure to check it out.

      2. There’s not only more than one kind of Guinness stout–not only over its history but available right now–but also the stuff that’s in that glass is nothing like traditional stout, really. It gets its characteristic head from nitrogen added to the beer, and also varies substantially in taste from Guinness Extra Stout, which is probably closer to the original recipe.

      1. congratulations, you have found the acme of stouts and may stop looking. :)

        i am completely serious, but i also enjoy: sam smith’s oatmeal and (believe it or not) sam adams imperial (same style and abv as bklyn chocolate). unfortunately the sam adams is also seasonal.

        stout is a good beer to be adventurous with. it’s hard to really screw up… unless you’re diageo. :-/

  4. As if having to drink a boring, insipid stout from a company that bullies craft brewers weren’t punishment enough…

    1. You can’t blame the people making it for the actions of the dicks in marketing.

      That said, the split-monopoly between Diageo and Heineken is slowly subsiding in Ireland now, and there’s a great selection out there.
      Galway Hooker is a delicious one. I still like Guinness, too, though.

    1. Same here; and not only that, the address that’s actually in the code is a bit.ly version of the above link. So the question is… is the whole thing a hoax or did somebody tamper with the picture?

      1. Actually, I switched out the shortener to the full URL since we don’t allow shorteners.

    2. Of course, if I had read the article at Roger Smolski’s link first I would have known the story… Note to self: next time, read comments first, then write reply :P

  5. The are owned by Diageo and tradition tends to go out the window in favour of mass marketing with a company like that.

    There’s nothing traditional about using nitrogen to give a smooth head to stout for example. That’s a modern development though there’s nothing wrong with that. Guinness Extra in bottles is more like traditional stout.

    O’Haras stout has a much nicer flavour than draft Guinness

    1.  Doesn’t replacing CO2 with nitrogen alter the flavor toward the sweeter end of the spectrum? 

      1. Stouts are uncarbonated in any case.

        The nitrogen gas comes into contact with the drink as it’s being poured, the stout and the nitrogen are separate until the drink leaves it’s keg, propelled by the pressure of the nitrogen gas. Nitrogen is a lot less reactive than CO2, so I don’t know how much you’d taste it. The air around us is mostly nitrogen, and it’s not very flavoursome.

      2. The CO2 reacts with the beer and screws up the flavor.  When beer is conditioned in its container, the fermentation produces both CO2 and N2, so nitrogen isn’t that out of place disolved in beer.

    2. You can get O Hara’s on draught (nitrogen) as well. It’s incredibly nice.

      I think the idea behind less strongly flavoured beers is getting people to drink 12 of them.

  6. Isn’t Diageo the pack of whining skunks that stole the award from a microbrewer?  Screw Guiness, I’ll buy local.

  7. ‘revealed QR code can finally be scanned: “it tweets about your pint, updates your facebook status, checks you in via 4 square, downloads coupons and promotions, invites your friends to join, and even launches exclusive Guiness content.”

    Yeah, so the last part is a bit of a nightmare.’

    No, I’d say everything BUT the last part is a bit of a nightmare. *I* should be the one that controls what shows as my facebook status, where I’m checked in via 4square, what invitations my friends get, etc.  But having it show something to just me? Well, I did scan the QR code, so I kind of asked for that didn’t I?

      1. I hear it also transfers $20,000 from your bank into an account held by the widow of General Sanni Abacha, who only needs you to do this so that she can withdraw the $80 million there, which  (dear soul) a most generous portion will be passed to you (my friend) upon the deposit of y our funds.

    1. You’re dead right. But I must say I’m not enamored by the prospects of what might happen if the mischievous tribbles at Trojan pursue this idea.

  8. Pretty sure I’ve “launched Guinness content” at the end of a night more than once, without the aid of a smartphone.

  9. “Slowly, ever so slowly, the hand crept closer to my face.  I froze, not knowing whether to move or utter a cry for help, or even if I could do so.”

    “Gently, carefully, it touched my ear with a quiver as of nervousness or even excitement, and I found myself posting on Facebook as if possessed by another who guided my will, forcing me to login and post…”

    “It touched my nose, more boldly now, with gained confidence that my terror was absolute and my ability to respond non-existant, and I tweeted. I tweeted as I had not before, the strange words flowing from my fingertips, each letter, each horrific letter going forth as if each were a knock on a mystical door that stood dusty and still for millennium, waiting only for the 140 characters from my hands, my hands guided by this mysterious creature.”

    “And then, with boldness and confidence that it utterly owned me and could do what unspeakable things it wished with me, things I could not fathom but only sense the horror they brought forth – this boldness which to my utter terror and horror (unspoken yet louder than any cry), it touched my cheek – and I checked in on Foursquare.   A message to the hidden world, a flare sent up that only the ethereal beings could see that would draw them closer, closer, inevitably closer towards my vulnerable, unguarded soul that I could not defend or hide as there I was a shining clarion called out shrilly to the world to state as a voice to millions, ‘I AM HERE’, as if naked before an audience with soul cast down as shamelessly as it was held up before the brightest light that seared the soul and left no feature, no flaw, no subtlety of my existence unlit by this cruel light.”

    “And yet the real horror struck me then, as if no horror had yet crossed me, no act of this mysterious hand more than a casual touch of a friend or lover, or odd stranger reached out. For you see, though I had posted on Facebook, that land of faceless people’s sorid lives etched in stone there like some stone entabliture for all to see for all eternity, or twitter where so much was said with so little and yet so little yet was said with so much. This horror, this fear, this utter destruction of my soul that thought it had been so defiled before?”

    “It was this…”


  10. Ok.  So…. where can I get my hands on one of these things?  Seriously, I think it’s cool and I like Guinness on occasion. 

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