Ever wonder how to pour the perfect Guinness? This blog is brought to you by our friends at Guinness.
Without exaggerating even a little bit, Guinness Draught Stout is one of the few, truly legendary beers in the world today. From revolutionizing the way a beer can look and taste, to being the subject of constant conversation and storytelling, there really aren’t any beers like it in the world. Getting the perfect pint, with the perfect atmosphere, can change a normal night into one you may never forget. We pay so much attention to how that beer should be poured and served that I think our Guinness Draught in Can should receive the same type of attention.
This question came up recently at a staff training session with a few very knowledgeable Guinness people, and we each had differing opinions on the proper technique. Answers were:
- Pour it hard
- Two-part pour
- Steady pour with the glass at 45 degrees, straightening the glass about halfway through and finish.
A healthy discussion was had and ended with all of us not really sure where we’d heard any of it. Perfect. Over the next few days I decided to run an experiment with all three theories to see what the practical results would be. I also emailed Director of Global Quality and Master Brewer, Stephen Kilcullen, at St. James’s Gate, to get his opinion. On to the results!
**All tests were poured into a beer clean, 16oz Gravity Glass.
- POUR HARD
Theory – This basically involved opening the can and completely inverting it, allowing the beer to slosh out all willy nilly into the glass. The thinking behind this is to help stir up those nitrogenated bubbles, leading to a smooth, thick head of foam.
Results – Not good friends. After surging and settling, the cap of foam was riddled with huge bubbles and marks from large bubbles that had popped. The idea of pouring hard comes from marketing materials from other nitrogenated beers, not from Guinness or St. James’s Gate. Nitrogenation is a process that we invented in 1959 and coaxing out those tiny bubbles is something we have pretty much perfected with our widget. Pouring hard is not recommended.
Head Height – ¾ inch
- TWO PART POUR
Theory – Pouring GDIC should be just like pouring from a tap, using the Six Steps to a Perfect Pint.
Results – Better. The foam cap was smooth and lovely and the beer looked nice. Except for one small problem, head height. Letting any amount of this beer sit in the can will result in a loss in Nitrogen and if you lose Nitrogen before pouring the beer into the glass, you will lose that foam. There’s a chance that temperature could also be an issue with head height for GDIC, but either way, not allowing the foam to reach its full potential just exacerbates that problem.
Head Height – ¼ inch
- ONE STEADY POUR
Theory – A steady pour, starting with the glass at a 45 degrees, then straightening toward the finish will result in a great looking glass of Guinness Draught from a can.
Results – This pour resulted in the best looking beer of the bunch. Letting the widget do its thing and using a smooth pour led to a beer that looked closest to what we all know as the Perfect Pint. Mr. Kilcullen concurs, writing “It’s a nice steady single pour at a 45 degree angle, followed by straightening the glass toward the finish.”
Head Height – ½ inch
The issue of pouring GDIC is usually one for pubs that don’t have Guinness Draught on tap. So educating these accounts on the proper GDIC pour is very important, as it’s possibly the only time the staff and guests of these accounts will interact with our beer. In a perfect world, the staff would pour the beer into a clean, 16 ounce gravity glass, in front of the guest who ordered it, quickly talking about the widget in the can. When the glass is full, they’d place the branded glass facing toward the guest, and offer to leave the can.
This could be covered in a quick staff training just before a shift starts, or in a more detailed training class. Please contact your regional Guinness Brewery Ambassador to set up a training today.