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?