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St Patrick’s Day is fast approaching and there is no doubt there will be plenty of pints of Guinness poured on the day. So how confident are you in your pint-pouring technique? Guinness Master Brewer Stephen Kilcullen shares the history behind the two-part pour and his expert advice on how to pour the perfect pint of the Black Stuff.

The perfect pint of Guinness is a unique experience in the world of Beer. It's certainly a matter of taste; but it's also about presentation, temperature and distinctive layers that create an impeccable pint of clear, dark Stout topped with a white, dense, creamy foam. But what makes it truly special to me is the fact that every time you order a fresh pint, for a brief moment, you're connected to over 250 years of history, since Arthur Guinness signed a 9,000 year lease on a property at St. James’ Gate in 1759. It's the way we've poured our draught Stout for centuries, and it’s more relevant than ever.

The history behind the two-part pour

Prior to the 1950s, the main Guinness variant was Guinness Extra Stout, a carbonated beer. This Beer was brewed at St. James’s Gate in Dublin, Ireland and left the brewery in wooden casks. The Beer was then bottled, labeled, and sold locally.

A much smaller percentage was served from a tap and was, what we call today, real Ale. The really interesting part is that until 1959, Guinness Stout was blended, at the bar, from two different casks, and required the skilled hand of an experienced publican in order to present a perfect pint.

According to Eibhlin Colgan, Guinness Archivist, these two casks contained Guinness Stout of different ages. One held a younger Stout that was probably more carbonated and lively, while the other held an older Stout that had matured in the barrel, gaining depth and flavor not present in the young Stout. When blending, the ideal mixture was filling the glass ¾ full with the older Stout and then topping it off with the younger Stout. A two-part pour. That means pouring a Guinness on draught has been done with two pours for literally hundreds of years.

When our nitrogenated Stout was being perfected by Michael Ash and his team in late '50s and early '60s, our brewers and scientists noted that in order to attain a solid, substantial head, a two-part pour was optimal. Fill ¾ of the glass, set the Beer aside and allow the tiny bubbles to surge and settle forming that perfect foam head. Then top off the pint. Two different pours.

Why is the two-part pour important?

It guarantees the perfect taste due to the perfect head size

It delivers the perfect visual presentation:

How to pour the perfect pint of Guinness:

  • Pull the tap fully down and dispense at a 45-degree angle into a Guinness-branded glass.
  • Fill glass ¾ full.
  • Allow to settle.
  • Top up by pushing the tap handle back just above the rim, thus creating the fabulous Guinness dome.
  • Remember these 6 steps:

    We hope you are now ready to pour a perfect pint of Guinness in your bar using Stephen’s expert tips and guidance. To find out more about Beer, check out our Know Your Liquid article on Beer to discover where it all began, the production process and the different variations available.