Ahhhh. The Black Stuff. Have a pint.
It’s good for you.
I hadn’t heard this before, but that’s what people said back when Guinness ran its first ad in 1929. They believed the yeast in the bottle turned to iron and had health benefits. I might have expected that Guinness would be “good for you” the way medicine, or broccoli is. But Guinness goes down much more easily. Especially when you’re drinking it in a Members’ Only bar inside the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin, reserved for those taking the Connoisseur Class.
For 25 Euro, we learned the six steps behind the art of “pouring the perfect pint.” We mastered the technique of the tilt, the pour, and the settle. And then we mastered the art of drinking a Guinness and appreciating the difference in Guinness variations.
I am by no means a connoisseur of any beer. I have my favorites, but they’re mostly German and Belgian. I’ve only had Guinness once or twice in my life, but remembered it as bitter and heavy; something I couldn’t even finish. Nothing like the cold, smooth, mellow taste of roasted barley I guzzled down in Dublin.
I was correct in my original assessment of the Guinness I used to know. The American version is very different than what they serve on tap in Europe. The alcohol content is higher and more bitter. When we sampled it, it tasted very much like a horrible American beer. We sampled a Guinness cocktail, too. We didn’t try a Black & Tan (1/2 Guinness and ½ Jameson whiskey), but we did try the Black Velvet – a mix of Guinness and champagne. I especially liked it. It reminded me of Belgian beers.
But the best glass I had, of course, was the one I poured myself. We took our turns behind the two-way tap as our host Kevin explained how to pour the perfect pint:
First, turn the glass with the harp toward yourself and tilt it beneath the tap at a 45-degree angle. Be careful! The spout must not touch any side of the glass.
Then, pull the tap down toward you completely and fill the glass about halfway before straightening the glass. Let it fill to the top of the harp and then stop it. Let it set for 91 seconds so the nitrogen mixes correctly before you top it off.
Finally, once it’s settled, bring the glass back beneath the tap and push the tap away from you. Let the creamy foam rise just above the top, then stop the tap. It’s time to drink.
Stand straight. Elbow out, parallel to the floor. Bring the glass to your mouth and let your lips touch the rim of the glass like a kiss. Stare off toward the horizon and take a long, slow swallow of beer. That’s the way to drink a Guinness. Proud and tall. With a little bit of foam still left in the glass at the end.
So I poured the perfect pint, and drank it down proudly. Then I headed up to the Gravity Bar at the top of the Storehouse for another because it’s never going to taste as good or as fresh when I get home. Plus, the views over Dublin were spectacular!
What’s your favorite beer? Guinness, or something else?
Well done Juliann! When in Ireland it’s Guinness all the way, despite the excellent craft beers finally becoming available in Ireland. Cork is the home of Murphy’s, a rival stout, and out of loyalty I stick to that when in Cork.
You won’t find Guinness tasting as nice anywhere outside Ireland and few staff are trained to serve it properly as you were taught.
I should have tried Murphy’s, too, but was already hooked on Guinness. And it’s nice to hear that I was taught correctly. 🙂 Too bad no one is going to let me behind the bar here in the States to demonstrate my new skill.
Sorry, my husband’s the beer drinker…I’ve never taken to the drink. And I learned I have a sensitivity to yeast. So I can only imbibe of the beverage via blogs like yours. 🙂
I’m not a big beer drinker, but am always willing to try. I’m always pleasantly surprised when I like a certain brand and then I stick with it. Kriek in Belgium, and now Guinness in the UK and Ireland.
I think my husband tried Guinness but thought it was pretty potent. Needless to say, it’d never cross my lips.
Hi Juliann, it tastes sooo different in Ireland hey! It makes that wait all worth it.
It’s funny as I didn’t even drink beer until 2 years ago when I started travelling and now I’d say prob the best I’ve tasted.
Hi Sally! I certainly enjoyed it. Makes me want to go back!
I had your same experience when trying Guinness at a London pub vs. an American sports bar. American style is nothing like the original. And, the American bartender didn’t tell me to let it settle for a couple of minutes. The British bartender explained about “settling” — and it makes a huge difference.
It almost makes me feel like Guinness shouldn’t allow their stout to be served outside of Europe!
I know I sound like a kid, but I have to say, “This is sooo cool!” I’m not a beer drinker, but our son is, and he is always trying to educate me on the finer points of beer and the many variations. I watched a snippet from a show once, where people were sent to Guinness in Dublin to learn to pour the perfect pint. It was interesting – but not as interesting and as much fun as your post! 🙂
Thanks, Maddie! I’ll bet your son would love the opportunity to learn this all-important skill, too. I know my son would. 🙂
Funny you wrote about beer since I was just at a pub two days ago and was completely flummoxed as to what to order and what the differences were. My friend ordered a Guinness but I doubt that the busy bartender behind the counter was as professional about pouring it and serving it up as you were here. 😉 Are you still in Ireland now or have you since gone back home?
I’m back home, wishing I could find a good Guinness around here. 😉 No such luck.
I’m soooooooooooo jealous! We are very fortunate to have County Clare here in Milwaukee, which is a very true Irish restaurant/pub/B&B. They win pour awards constantly. My fave there is a Black Guinness, which is black currant and Guinness. It’s superb!
Normally, and I’m obviously rambling since I’m a beer girl, we’re into IPA’s, especially Bell’s Two Hearted courtesy of Michigan.
Oh my gosh. I have to tell my brother about County Clare; he’ll want to detour that way some time. I know if I’m ever out that way, I’ll make a stop there.
Absolutely. And naturally, we shall have a pint together. : )