Plus More Guinness Gems Learned at the Guinness Storehouse’s Connoisseur Bar in Dublin
Did you know there’s a right way to drink a Guinness? Yup, there is, complete with a KPI. And I’m pretty sure it will get you drunk.
I learned about the right way to drink a Guinness as well as how to pour one while in the exclusive Connoisseur Room at the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin, Ireland. For an extra fee, the Guinness Storehouse lets beer fans experience a VIP Guinness drinking experience while visiting the famed museum where – in addition to walking around the museum rooms that tell you the history and process of Guinness – you’ll sip the dark stout in the Connoisseur Bar. The Connoisseur Bar differs from the Guinness Storehouse’s other famous Guinness-pouring bar, the Gravity Bar, by providing a more intimate environment to sip your Guinness (compared to the open, panoramic windows of the Gravity Bar with views of Dublin).
While in Dublin to speak at the TBEX Conference this past October, I had the opportunity to experience the Connoisseur Bar during a special presentation for speakers of TBEX during the conference’s opening party at the Guinness Storehouse (and let me tell you – a party at the Guinness Storehouse is pretty awesome). The Connoisseur Bar is manages to be feel both trendy and traditional at the same time thanks to its dim lighting, bookshelves, and mood lighting emanating off of the bar.
I took a seat at the counter and immediately recognized the host. “You’re the guy in the videos!” I exclaimed.
He acknowledged that yes, that was indeed him. The videos I was referring to were the many informational videos seen while I was touring the Guinness Storehouse museum earlier, explaining how Guinness was made. “He” was no other than Fergal Murray, Guinness’ Master Brewer. I grinned delightedly as I knew we were about to learn about Guinness from the best.
And learn we did. First we were taught about the different types of Guinness, while getting to sample them of course. Up first was the Guinness Original, an Extra Stout beer. It’s always bottled and is more aerated than the draft. It will give a dichotomy of tastes to your tongue: sweet on the tip and roasted on the sides. This gives it a sweet, sour, bitter tinge going down – three of the four taste sensations. Of the four main tastes, only salt is missing so Murray recommended pairing your Guinness with something salty, like oysters or something else from the sea.
One Day in Killarney
One Day Around the Ring of Kerry
One Day in Limerick
One Day in Dublin
Visiting the Cliffs of Moher from Dublin
Next up was the Foreign Extra Stout next. Like the Original, the Guinness Foreign Extra Stout recipe is over 200 years old. In 1827, it went around the world, introducing Guinness to new groups of people. It is also bittersweet and has a plethora of hops that help preserve it, which is why the Foreign Extra Stout is a good one to buy if you’re overseas from Ireland.
After the Foreign Extra Stout came the Guinness Draught, which I was most excited about, because we were going to taste the draft version of it and learn the correct way to pour a Guinness in the process. Here are the steps and what you should watch for to make sure the bartender is pouring your Guinness right (chances are you’re good to go in Ireland, but you might want to study the pouring techniques of your Guinness outside the country).
- Aim for back of the harp if using the Guinness glass (which if not being used is red flag #1 the bar may not know what they’re doing). Keep the glass at a 45 degree angle while pouring and as the liquid gets to bottom of harp straighten glass and stop pouring. This is part one of a 2-part pour.
- Let it settle for 119.5 seconds (to be exact).
- Start the second part of Guinness’ 2-part pour. Do the final part of the pour by pushing the tap away to bring it out slower to top it off. This also gives it the dome shape above the glass rim.
- There was also something to do with nitrogen and velocity and bubbles coming out, but…this isn’t a science blog, so you’ll have to go to the Guinness Connoisseur Bar yourself to figure that part out.
And that’s how you pour a Guinness! The main thing to watch for is that your bartender does the 2-step pour and waits for it to settle between pours. And make sure it has the dome when it’s handed to you. If not, keep hunting for the perfect Guinness pour in your ‘hood. After learning how to pour a Guinness, we learned how to drink a Guinness. First off, you have to sip through the foam by pushing the foam back with your upper lip. The foam should not be gone by the time you finish the drink. It’s not as easy to sip this way as it may sound. To make sure you’re doing it right, you have a KPI (key performance indicator) to look for: rings of foam. Each sip should leave a ring of foam, something like this:
Murray then went onto say the perfect pint of Guinness should be drank in eight sips (uh…you mean gulps?) and have eight rings. Yeah, I wasn’t even about to try that one; hello hangover. Along with being surprised by the fact that you’re supposed to drink Guinness in eight large gulps, I think I was most surprised to find out how much I liked the bottled beer. I thought I disliked bottled Guinness since it tasted a bit watered down and without as much of a malty kick to it like a pint has. Yet, I realized that is because I’d only ever bought Guinness Draught bottled in the states. I really enjoyed the Guinness Extra Stout and Guinness Foreign Extra Stout (especially the Foreign Extra Stout). The Foreign Extra Stout isn’t as easy to find in the states where I live, but I’m thinking it’s time I track it down. Oh, and speaking of drinking Guinness at home in San Diego. I asked Murray if it’s really true that Guinness is different in Ireland and that’s why it tastes so much better. He said it’s definitely the same, the main difference in tastes comes from if the pour is done right. So. In conclusion, don’t skip that 2-part step! And drink responsibly (which for most of us probably means a pint of Guinness not drunk in 8 sips). Sláinte! (Cheers!)