TOP TIPS FOR SERVING THE PERFECT PINT OF GUINNESS
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 Guinness pour and his expert advice on how to pour a Guinness.
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 9000 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 Guinness 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 flavour 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 Guinness pour. That means pouring a Guinness on draught has been done with two pours for literally hundreds of years.
When our nitrogentated stout was being perfected by Michael Ash and his team in late 50’s and early 60’s, 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 Guinness pour important?
It guarantees the perfect taste due to the perfect head size
- The creamy, nitrogenated head of Guinness has a bitter note to it, this is crucial to the beer’s overall flavour profile.
- If the head is too small, it means not enough bitterness to balance the sweetness from the malt profile. If the head is too big, it means too much bitterness which overwhelms the sweetness.
- A two-part pour provides the perfect head height and therefore the perfect balanced flavour profile.
It delivers the perfect visual presentation:
- Helps achieve a consistent surge which visually looks amazing.
- Helps achieve the perfect head height which is very important as consumers drink with their eyes.
- Helps achieve the perfect dome which is visually appealing.
How to pour a Guinness:
Practice these 6 steps for the perfect Guinness pour:
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.
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