The Mystery Behind Pouring the Perfect Guinness: Step-by-Step Guide

For some reason Guinness seems more prone to be shrouded in a veil of mystery than any other type of beer out there. It is popular dry Stout which was originally developed in Ireland back in the late 1700s. Three centuries later, it remains one of the most popular beers across the globe. Because it is unique in many ways, it must be treated differently when pouring, kegging and distributing it.

We’ve previously discussed how to pour the perfect draft beer. However, in that article we failed to mention that pouring Guinness takes a slightly different technique. To honor our devoted Guinness drinkers, we’d like to take this opportunity to teach you how to pour the perfect pint of Guinness.

Why Does Guinness Need to be Poured Differently?

The first question many people ask is why Guinness must be poured differently from other beers. There are a number of reasons for this, but the most important is the ratio of nitrogen to carbon dioxide. Guinness relies on a much higher nitrogen ratio than any other type of beer. For the perfect pint, the gas mixture is 75 percent nitrogen and 25 percent carbon dioxide released at a pressure of between 30 and 40 pounds per square inch. Additionally, because the beer is so thick it takes longer for the nitrogen bubbles to release which is essential to pouring it correctly.

The 5 Basics Steps to Pouring Guinness

1. Use the Right Glass

The first step to pouring the perfect Guinness is knowing what type of glassware to use. For the best results, it important to use a dry, clean tulip glass. Tulip glasses are designed to allow the nitrogen bubbles in Guinness to flow down. Guinness also has their own official pint glass, pictured to the right, which they redesigned in 2010 and recommend using. The use of either of these glasses play an important role in giving Guinness its famous first bite.

2. 45 Degrees

The next step is to hold the glass at a 45 degree angle when pouring the beer. It is also important that you never let the faucet actually touch the glass. If you do, not only will the faucet become contaminated, but the glass will as well. When beginning your pour, it is critical that you never pour straight down to the bottom of the glass. While Guinness will not develop thick head like other beers if you pour straight down into the glass, it will still be heavier than it should.

3. Only ¾ Full

With most beer you simply keep pouring until the glass is mostly full, leaving enough room for the proper amount of foam head. With Guinness, however, you should only fill it up three quarters of the way. Once you reach this point stop pouring and set the beer down and let it rest.

4. Letting Guinness Rest

Once your glass is three quarters full, place it on the counter and let it rest. Because Guinness has such a unique pouring process, all of the nitrogen bubbles will float down the side of the glass and then return to the top by flowing up through the middle of the beer. The route the nitrogen bubbles take is primarily responsible for creating the creamy head that makes Guinness so appealing. The amount of time you should let a Guinness it varies based upon who you ask. Typically, a good wait time is around two minutes.

5. Finish the Pour

Once you’ve allowed the Guinness to rest for a couple of minutes, you can top off the glass with more beer. It is important to wait the full two minutes to allow the head time to finish building. Otherwise you will end up over pouring when you top off the glass.

What’s the Deal with the Special Guinness Tap?

If you’ve ever poured a Guinness before, then one of the first things you may have noticed is the special tap used to dispense the beer. It is important that you never use a regular tap to pour Guinness. Because Guinness relies on the specially formulated nitrogen carbon dioxide ratio, the tap plays an intro goal role in pouring the perfect Guinness. Each tap contains a five disc restrictor plate which compresses the liquid as it passes through it, creating tiny little nitrogen bubbles which help created the creamy foam head Guinness is famous for.

What About Special Mixed Guinness Beers?

Over the past decade it has become popular to mix and Guinness with other types of beer although the traditional combining Guinness with other beers dates back to the 18th century. One of the earliest examples is the Black and Tan. This drink originated in Britain and is a mix of Stout and draft bitter beer. In the United States, the Black and Tan is typically Guinness mixed with Bass.

Another popular mixed Guinness drink is called ‘Dark Side of the Moon’. A play on words when mixing Blue Moon and Guinness. This trend has grown very popular over the years, with special mixed drinks now including all styles of beer ranging from the lagers to hard ciders. Visit your favorite pub, and if they have Guinness on tap, it’s very likely that they have their own special mixed menu available.

When pouring this type of beer, the first step is pouring whatever the other beer is. Once you do this, you should let the beer sit for a few minutes so that the head begins to dissipate. Next, you will use a special layering spoon which is essentially a long spoon with the head curved at a 90 degree angle. You will then rest the spoon on the top of the first beer you poured. Afterwards, pour the Guinness directly onto the spoon. Once it hits the spoon, the surface tension will create a visible layer with Guinness sitting on top.

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Jeff Flowers

Jeff Flowers

Jeff Flowers has been a self-described beer geek for over a decade now. When he's not chasing his daughter around, you can usually find him drinking a fresh brew and wasting tons of his time on both Google+ & Twitter.
Jeff Flowers

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