St. Patrick's Day is just a few days off, and many Irish and wanna-be Irish revelers will be going to pubs and bars across the land. Many will reach for that quintessential Irish brew to refresh and fortify them through the long celebration. Guinness is synonymous with the wearing o' the green, and knowing the proper way to pour a pint of black is important to understanding why it takes a few extra minutes for the bartender to deliver your draft.
Getting a perfect pint of Guinness begins with the special tap that's used. The tap, longer than a standard, tapers to a narrow outlet. This unique faucet has a restrictor plate with of five discs that compresses the liquid as it passes through, creating little nitrogen bubbles that create the creamy foam head for which Guinness is famous.
Because Guinness is carbonated with nitrogen in conjunction with carbon dioxide, pouring the beloved brew is an art that requires a bit more than simply pulling a pint. To get a perfect pour, the gas mixture fed into the tap should be 75 percent nitrogen and 25 percent CO2 at a pressure of between 30 and 40 pounds per square inch. While this may all sound rather technical, it's the essential preliminary set-up that makes the stout so special.
Once the tap is configured properly, it's time to draw a glass of "the black stuff," even though it's really a deep ruby red. Pouring Guinness is a five-step process; each step should be carefully completed so as to achieve the perfect pint.
1. Use the Right Glass
As it is with many beers, choosing the appropriate glassware assures that the brew is presented in its finest form. Guinness recommends using a tulip glass, which is designed to allow the nitrogen bubbles to flow down, as well as trap the aromas near the glass rim. Before pouring, inspect the glass for cleanliness and ensure it's dry.
2. 45 Degrees
For best results, hold the glass at a 45-degree angle to the tap-without letting it touch the glass. It's important that you never let the faucet actually touch the glass. Never pour straight down to the bottom of the glass, to ensure the beer will have its characteristic lightness.
3. Only Three-Quarters Full
Unlike most beers that are poured until the glass is full, Guinness should be poured only until the glass is three-quarters full. Then comes the hard part: Let the beer rest for a few minutes.
4. Let Guinness Rest
Set the three-quarters-full glass on the counter. The resting period allows the nitrogen bubbles to float down the side of the glass and then return to the top by flowing up through the middle of the beer. This process creates the creamy head Guinness lovers find so appealing. Ideally, a pint of Guinness should rest for about two minutes.
5. Finish the Pour
After the rest period, the pint is ready to be topped off. Bring the glass back to the tap and pour straight down the middle, until the head is just below the rim of the glass.
As you enjoy the festivities this St. Patrick's Day, try to remain patient when your bartender pours your Guinness. The short wait will pay off as you raise the pint of perfection.