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As the National Ambassador for the Guinness Open Gate Brewery in Baltimore, Maryland, Ryan Wagner’s job is to bring the spirit and heritage of Guinness to life every day. Read on as Ryan discusses how he works to keep stories alive through the ways that Guinness is served, stored, and drank.


‘To Arthur’: The Beginnings of the Guinness Brand

Guinness has been around for a very long time - 262 years on January 31st, 2021. This marks the date when Arthur Guinness signed the most iconic lease in the history of real estate.

It was on that date in 1759 that Arthur would agree to lease a brewery in the St. James’s Gate district of Dublin for 9,000 years – the brewery that remains the home of Guinness to this day.

It was within the walls of St. James’s Gate that Arthur and his colleagues would begin to build the brand that has become one of the most iconic and beloved in the world. And it is on the shoulders of those giants that the brand is built – always with a focus on the pillars of Integrity, Passion, and Quality.

All three pillars work hand in hand, but Quality may be the one that separates Guinness in the world of beer. Even in the first Guinness advertisement issued in a national paper back in 1929, quality was a primary theme.

The Guinness family has always known the most important truth about beer – the measure of a brewer is not just their ability to brew a fantastic beer, but their ability to brew it again and again. Consistency and quality go hand in hand.

That dedication extends not just to the walls of the brewery, but also across the more than 150 countries where our beer is served. Guinness may travel thousands of miles to get to its destination in some cases, but the most important part of the journey may be in the last few feet from the keg to the glass – the final link in the quality chain.


Guinness is a Dish Best Served Cold: Using the Cold Room

Beer quality is a complex and ever-evolving craft, but gaining a basic understanding of the most common issues that can occur helps resolve an overwhelming majority of challenges faced inside a bar or pub. Here are a few of those basics, beginning with the draught system elements found in the cold box or cold room to help achieve consistent freshness.

Temperature

Despite the many rumours out there, Guinness beer should always be served cold. Beer is a food product and should be treated as one. The longer and more consistently you keep your beer at the proper cold temperatures, the slower the aging process of that beer will be. In addition, correct temperatures are required to keep the gas inside of the beer at their proper balance.

Beer that is too warm will foam due to overexcited CO2. Beer that is too cold won’t allow for the ideal head formation and retention. Luckily, we know the perfect temperature at which to keep beer – 38 degrees Fahrenheit in the USA, or between 3-8 degrees Celsius in other countries.

Set your cold room and rest easy knowing your beer is in its happy place! Also, one quick reminder – kegs take a full 24 hours to acclimatize to the temperature of a cold room. If your kegs arrive at room temperature, it will take them a full day to get to the proper temp – get them in the cold room ASAP!

Pressure

A draught system is only effective if it’s in balance. That balance relies on pressure. Regulators that control gas pressure and maintain the balance of gas inside the keg must be set to specific settings to pour perfect beer.

In the case of Guinness Draught Stout, that setting is between 30 – 38 PSI. Other beers require their own unique settings. Too low or too high and the pour will be impacted causing issues with taste and carbonation. Your distributor or local quality team will be able to adjust this for you if required.

Cleanliness

A draught system has many components – couplers, FOBs, beer pumps, lines, taps – and any one of them can disrupt the pour if not kept clean and in perfect working order. The frequency and methods by which the system should be cleaned are very specific.

In most cases, that process should be undertaken by trained professionals, but understanding those processes can help you guarantee the work is being done as often and as well as it should be.

Here in the US, lines should be cleaned every two weeks using a caustic solution. Faucets should be disassembled and detailed on the same cycle. Couplers and FOBs should be broken down and cleaned as part of a quarterly deep clean, when an acidic solution is used to give the beer lines a more comprehensive scrub. In Ireland and the UK, the quality teams will do this for you, and other countries also have their own systems in place to keep your equipment working as it should – but its always good to know what each component does!

In short, treat your cold room and draught system components as if they were part of your food program – in many ways, they are.


Creating Quality: Tips to Keeping Your Pint Consistent

The cold room is not the only place where the quality chain can be disrupted. Behind the bar is another, where your glassware and pouring techniques can also play a massive role. Essential bar skills will help you pour a beautiful pint every time.

Glassware

This is perhaps the most consistent issue when it comes to draught beer challenges in retail settings. Believe it or not, beer-clean glassware is essential to a beer’s appearance, aroma, and flavour. Here are a few best practices:


How to Pour the Perfect Pint of Guinness

One of the major questions asked of brewers is how to pour the perfect pint. Here is a guide to pouring a Guinness Draught Stout using the ‘Six Steps to Perfection’:


Putting Your Personality into Your Pint: Serving with Passion

Despite everything laid out above, something else that impacts beer quality is the passion and stories provided by a bartender which can impact the experience of drinking a beer. Beer quality is critically important, but equally as important is the bartender bringing their authentic self to the process. When those two elements are in balance, the pints will be perfect.


Five Key Takeaways

1. Temperature is critically important, to both the quality of the pour and the quality of the beer itself. And no, Guinness beer should not be served at room temperature!

2. Having a balanced draught system with correct pressures throughout is an often overlooked but critical part of the quality chain. Small errors can cause big problems.

3. The importance of regular and proper draught system cleanings and maintenance cannot be overstated. Learn the basics so you can control that process.

4. Simple pouring techniques and clean glassware makes a world of difference. These are quick, easy adjustments that will save you a lot of beer over time.

5. Don’t forget the part that YOU play in this process! The best beer in the world poured through the best draught system will still miss the mark if the experiential elements created by the bar staff aren’t in place.


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