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How to Pour the Perfect Pint of Guinness

Picture of Alice Johnston
Food Editor
Updated: 16 March 2018
There’s nothing like a pint of Guinness to quench your St. Patrick’s Day thirst. The dark, creamy beer has been a part of the day’s celebrations for hundreds of years, and hunger for the beer shows no sign of abating. We’ve assembled all the information you need to pour the perfect pint of the black stuff.

History and origins

Arthur Guinness began brewing his ales in 1759 in Dublin, at the St James’s Gate Brewery. He signed the lease for the property on 31 December 1759 for £45 a year, which was a great deal. He began brewing his ale and ten years later made his first export to Britain, shipping six-and-a-half barrels.

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The perfect pint of Guinness | © jackmac34

There are rumours that the recipe came from Arthur Price, a Welshman who came to Ireland who then hired a servant named Richard Guinness whose son later opened the brewery – but the official story sticks to Arthur.

Arthur began selling his dark beer porter in 1778, and it’s been popular ever since.

Where it’s from

Guinness is an Irish as they come, and comes from Dublin – but it’s now produced in almost 50 countries around the world.

How it’s made

Barley is grown and malted (which means it’s partially germinated and then dried to promote sugar production). It’s crushed and mixed with heated Irish water, mashed to extract the sugars and dropped into a ‘kieve’ which separates the grain from the liquid.

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Guinness was established in 1759 | © prylarer

The barley is heated to 232 degrees Celsius, which turns it a dark, ruby red. Hops are added, then it’s boiled for 90 minutes before being left to settle and cool down.

The Guinness yeast is added. The yeast has been used for years and a sample of it is kept locked up safely at all times. The mixture is then left to mellow. When it’s poured nitrogen is added to give the beer its smooth texture and creamy head.

Different varieties

There are many different kinds of Guinness as different varieties are sold in different countries. They have different alcohol levels, different amounts of ingredients and special anniversary, limited edition varieties.

How to store and chill

Guinness is stored in casks and chilled to 6 degrees celsius. It’s also stored in cans and bottles, depending on the delivery system.

Glassware

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It takes two pours to craft the perfect pint of Guinness | © diego_cue

A Guinness glass is the archetypal pint glass, long and slim with smooth sides. All the glasses feature the Guinness logo – an Irish harp modelled on the Trinity College Harp. The logo has been used since 1862 as harps have been an Irish symbol since the 1500s. It faces to the right, distinguishing it from the harp on the Irish coat of which faces to the left.

How to pour and serve

The way Guinness is poured is unique. Nitrogen and carbon dioxide is forced into the beer via a five-hole restrictor plate at the end of the tap when it’s poured, forcing nitrogen bubbles into the liquid which forms the creamy white head of the pint of beer and gives it a smooth, silky texture on the tongue. Because of this, the liquid must be dispensed with a double pour.

The glass is filled three quarters of the way full while holding the glass at a 45-degree angle, up to the harp, and allowed to settle. The remainder of the glass is filled until the creamy head forms a slight dome over the top of the glass. According to the company, it should take a full 119.5 seconds to pour a pint of Guinness.

How to drink

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A vintage advert for Guinness | © ardfern

Guinness tastes toasty, creamy and bitter, and to get the full flavour of the drink you need to make sure you get a taste of the beer in the first gulp rather than just the foam.

How to pair

Unsurprisingly, Guinness goes beautifully with many classic Irish dishes such as beef stew and soda bread. You can think beyond this, however. Oysters are a great choice; their salty, umami flavour goes wonderfully with the nutty flavour of the beer.

Chocolate mousse is also a perfect choice, as Guinness has sweet, malted flavours with compliment the chocolate. if you want to go all out, try making a Guinness Float – two scoops of ice cream with Guinness poured on top to make a rich, creamy glass.