Yes Beware. In my thirty three years of partaking of the black stuff there have been many a bad pour. Please I implore you to heed this warning and properly vet your local constabulary on the proper care handling and pouring of this Irish staple.
Leave, run, hide, and never darken the halls of what ever fictional bar that would serve Guinness in a plastic cup. My normal answer to any hotel barkeep or festival operator who plans on serving me Arthur Guinness’s pride and joy in a plastic cup is—give me a Budweiser. I mean what’s the point.
A lesser known fact is that a barrel of Guinness to properly cascade down a properly chosen Imperial pint glass requires a draught system that utilizes nitrogen and CO2 gases. For the Guinness to cascade down the glass and form it’s distinctive head you need to have the increased pressure which the addition of Nitrogen gas to the system allows
If you are in a hurry a proper pint of Guinness may not be the best choice, a pint of Guinness takes what is called a double pour. The tulip glass or modern Guinness glass is filled almost 3/4s full then let to rest, to form it’s magic, to cascade down the sides, to grow anticipation. Once the glass has settled it is topped off with a reverse push of the tap to fill the glass, ending in a creamy headed pint. If your bartender fills your glass on a straight pour you have three options,
- Run away
- Send it back
- Open a proper pub next door.
Temperature of Guinness.
Guinness is served cool around 45 degrees, it can be served a bit colder and in Ireland mostly, you will also find Guinness extra cold being served, both are good. A warm Guinness is not a good thing. It can mean the kegs aren’t stored properly, the lines to the kegs are too far from the tap, or that the pub doesn’t serve Guinness regularly and it could be stale.
What is a pint glass?
A pint glass for Guinness holds more than a pint. It is an imperial pint or 20 ounces. A properly poured Guinness is poured in a 20 ounce pint glass not a 16 ounce pint glass. Now on to more controversy. A 20 ounce tulip glass was the standard container for a properly poured pint, then Guinness came out with their modern day version of the same. Sleeker modern 20 ounce pint glass that I must concede is still not as comfortable or welcoming as the old tulip glass. Others however love the glass so I might just be nostalgic. There are other Imperial pint glasses whose shapes might hinder the cascading effect of Guinness but still work in an acceptable way. I will say though that a Magners glass just doesn’t do it for me, odd shape thin on the bottom.
Ok, So you have your double poured Guinness in a proper 20 ounce pint glass served at the proper temperature with a draught system that has the proper proportion of CO2 and Nitrogen gas feeds, you are all set right, not quite.
Even the best poured Guinness can be ruined by your surroundings. A well poured Guinness can overcome some of the fake Irish pubs that are out there, but tragically these plastic pubs tend to sell Guinness poorly and pour Guinness poorly.
Warning signs of a plastic paddy pub.
- Four leaf Clover instead of a Shamrock.
- Happy St. Patty’s Day.
- Irish nachos.
- Green beer.
The good news is with a little tolerance that properly poured Guinness can still be enjoyed.
What makes a good pub.
- Poors a good Guinness
- has a good Irish session on days besides St Patrick’s Day
- You can have a nice chat.
- Has a friendly feel to it.
- Bartenders are happy to have you as a customer.
- Customers are in for a social event not a binge.
In the end everyone has an opinion about what makes a place good. Some of my favorite places are tiny hole in the wall pubs that have provided some of the best Irish traditional music and perfectly poured pints a man could want. The key point being that perfectly poured pint, as in the end after heeding the warning signs nothing really beats it.