With 1.8 billion pints sold every year, a presence in 150 countries and 49 breweries, Guinness does not need an introduction anymore. Instead, let’s delve into the essence of the ‘black stuff’ and learn how to master the perfect pour.
Success does not come without passion; Guinness is no exception. Beyond its achievements, Guinness is first, a story of faith. His founder, Arthur Guinness, believed in his product so much, that no mountain was high enough to stop him from achieving his purpose.
The art of brewing, handed down by his father, was rooted in him. Without his exquisite recipe and immutable processes, his brand would not be as charismatic as it is today. To enjoy it properly, one must follow a particular rite.
What is the proper way to drink Guinness? What are the secrets behind its concoction? And how did one man revolutionize the world of beer?
When Arthur inherited £100 from his godfather (Cashel’s Archbishop), he used the money to start his first Brewhouse, in Leixlip, County Kildare.
Four years later, in 1759, in search of bigger opportunities, Arthur left for Dublin. With the development of the Grand Canal, barley (and more) was easily sent from the countryside to the capital city.
He ceased the occasion, and signed a 9,000-year lease at £45 per annum; St Jame’s Gate was born out of the ashes of a 1.6-hectare (four-acre) unused brewery.
Before the stout, Arthur was making ale, more popular at the time. It is only after the Porter dark beer success in London that Guinness swapped his amber brew for a black one.
Instead of selling his product to Dubliners and its visitors only, he saw a brighter future for his new recipe. He started exporting his merchandise to England ten years after his company kicked-off.
Today, after over 250 years, the brewery has not altered the basic methods of processing the ‘black stuff’.
How Guinness is Made
To brew 3 million pints daily, the brewers religiously act as per the following 11 essential stages:
Malting: The alive Barley(that will germinate during the process) is dried down to send it off to sleep for several weeks.
Steeping: Water is added to the grains for 47 hours to allow them to grow.
Germination: The grains are sent to germinating boxes where the enzymes, that will later feed the yeast (see fermentation stage below), are created.
Drying: The wheat is dried in kilns in order to stop the germination process. Otherwise, the seeds will turn into barley plants and become useless to beer creation.
Milling: Physical crushing of both malt and roasted barley.*
*The barley, previously roasted at 232°, has dark outlines and remains brown. The process gives the red-ruby colour and rich taste. A warmer temperature would burn the barley; a colder will not create its unique flavour.
Mashing: Fresh milled malted barley is mixed with heated Poulaphouca Reservoir water (from the Wicklow Mountains), which releases fermented sugars and turn the cereals into a form of ‘porridge.’
Lautering: The kernels are strained from the sweet fluid (and then sent to feed cattle) by draining down into a ‘mash tun’ and create the ‘sweet wort’.
Kettling: Hops is added to the wort, and the mixture boils at a constant heat for 1.5 hours.
Cooling: After settling, the wort is seeped and rapidly cooled down to avoid off-flavour contamination.
Fermentation: A precious yeast (used for generations) is added to the liquid, and is left in the fermenters (tanks) for 7 days at 25°C (77°°F). The fungus function is to grow the maltose into both carbon dioxide and alcohol.
Maturation: Beer is filtered and, waits to be packaged.
Talking about Guinness can only arouse a thirst that needs to be quenched. To do so, there is a ritual to pursue for each and every beer container.
How to Drink Guinness Properly
Despite popular assumption, Guinness is always served cold in Ireland. Some people might enjoy it at room temperature, but it is simply a question of taste.
As we said before, to savour the stout’s delicate aromas correctly, you must observe a specific ritual. If you have no other choice, you can drink this nutritive beverage straight from the can or the bottle, but it surely offers excelling aromas when poured in a non-refrigerated glass.
The 6 steps to Pour the Perfect Draught from a Keg
Step 1: Take a Guinness branded glass. It might not seem important, but the harp logo is necessary for the next steps.
Step 2: Tilt the glass at a 45° angle and pull the tap forward. It is essential to pluck it towards you as it releases more pressure. The keg will then dispense small bubbles of nitrogen (responsible for the steady white head) and larger ones of CO² (also found in lagers).
Step 3: Fill your glass to the middle of the harp. Once settled though, the liquid part of the beer should reach the bottom of the instrument, and the foam should reach the centre.
Step 4: As Guinness’s motto specifies ‘Good things come to those who wait’. Let the pouring settle for 119.5 seconds (no more, no less). The bubbles will rise up as the surging takes place. The nitrogen gently dissolves into the beer before turning into a lasting creamy foam.
The beer will transform itself from light brown to the red ruby hue the brew is famous for. Nitrogen*, contrarily to CO², does not try to escape, that’s why you’ll find approximately 3 million bubbles in a single pint.
Step 5: Hold your glass straight and top up the glass until the foam reaches the edge, but this time push the tap away to liberate less pressure, and serve the perfect pour.
Step 6: Now that you’ve proudly achieved those steps, you want to drink that not so ‘black stuff’. Well, there is a proper way to savour it as well.
Do not lean towards your glass, instead, bring it up to you and sip a mouthful of it. The foam should form a moustache as it touches your top lip. If the lacing remains on the side of the glass, it is a success!
*In 1959, the mathematician Michael Ash, who worked for the company, developed the first nitrogen technique in history.
The 7 steps to Pour the Perfect Guinness from a Bottle
Not everyone can pour a draught from a Guinness Keg, so here are the steps to follow for a flawless bottle flow.
Step 1: Take a clean, dry glass (tulip shape is ideal). The glass must be at room temperature. Do not use a chilled glass; the crystal created by the cold will hurt the foam development and change the flavour.
Step 2: Open your cold Guinness bottle to liberate the freshness.
Step 3: Tilt both the bottle and the glass at a 45° angle and towards each other.
Step 4: Pour the beer by touching the curve of the container and fills it up to ¾, then stop.
Step 5: Let it surge and settle.
Step 6: Keep your glass straight and empty the bottle.
Step 7: As per the draught, savour your beer by bringing your drink towards your mouth and not your mouth towards the glass.
The 6 steps to Pour the Perfect Guinness from a Can
Bottles can be heavy to carry, especially if you buy your Guinness when on a grocery shopping mission. Besides, each can contains a round-shaped widget. When opened, the latter start floating and free the nitrogen. Even with this remarkable technology, there are some steps to follow for a faultless degustation:
Step 1: Get a chill can of Guinness. You need to leave it for 3 hours in the fridge minimum before consumption.
Step 2: Open your can and let it settle for five seconds.
Step 3: Tilt both the bottle and the glass at a 45° angle, and towards each other.
Step 4: Gently fill up the glass and straighten it when near the top (3/4) to create the creamy head.
Step 5: Let it settle and surge.
Step 6: As per the draught and the bottle, savour a generous sip by bringing your drink towards your mouth and not your mouth towards the glass.
The 7 steps to Pour the Perfect Guinness Draught for Surger Units
If you are a beer or a gadget (or both) devotee, you probably already own the Guinness Surger. This electrical equipment allows you to drink your pint as if it was freshly poured at the bar. The cans sold for the device are not the regular stout you buy in supermarkets. It is instead, as defined by the brand’s master brewer, “the smallest keg of Guinness in the world”.
Step 1: Plug in your surger.
Step 2: Pour some water onto the surger plate.
Step 3: Take a chill dedicated can (the special ones) and crack it open.
Step 4: Smoothly empty it all in the glass.
Step 5: Put the pint on the surger plate.
Step 6: It is time to let the magic happen.
Step 7: Again, savour a bounteous sip by bringing your drink towards your mouth and not your mouth towards the glass.