There is a right way to pour a pint of Guinness, and I don’t do it that way

Nikon Df, 28-200mm f/3.5-5.6 AF-G Nikkor, 2023

My wife follows a gluten- and dairy-free diet. She avoids beer as a result — except for Guinness. We can’t figure out why, but she doesn’t react to it as she did with every other beer she’s tried. Maybe it’s because Margaret is Irish and Guinness’s gluten knows better than to mess with her.

Stouts like Guinness, and their kin the porters, are my favorite beers, so I’m happy to drink Guinness with Margaret when we’re out. It’s best fresh from the tap, but relatively few bars in central Indiana, where we live, offer it that way. Fortunately, it’s almost as good in cans. At the brewery they add pressurized nitrogen and a special plastic ball to the can. The ball soaks in the nitrogen. When you open the can, the pressure lets off and the nitrogen injects into the beer. As you pour the beer into a glass, the nitrogen bubbles rise to the top and create Guinness’s signature creamy head.

Margaret and I visited the original Guinness brewery in Dublin several years ago. They taught us the proper way to pour a Guinness. Here are the instructions straight from the source:

Pour the Guinness Draught into a glass tilted at 45 degrees until it is three-quarters full. Allow the surge to settle before filling the glass all the way to the top. Your perfect pint, complete with its creamy white head, just domed above the glass rim, is then ready to drink.

Later during our days in Dublin we stepped into a pub for lunch and Margaret stepped up to photograph a neat row of Guinness taps. The amused bartender asked if she’d like to come behind the bar to pour one. The bartender was pleased that Margaret already knew what to do!

After we got home, we were both careful to pour our cans of Guinness using the proper procedure. But then one day I watched a bartender do it all wrong — and still get a perfect pint. She opened the can, flipped it over directly over the glass, and let all of the Guinness simply run out. After the beer settled, it looked just like a glass of Guinness should, with the full, creamy head.

This is so much more straightforward that this is what I do now. May the brewers in Dublin forgive me.

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17 responses to “There is a right way to pour a pint of Guinness, and I don’t do it that way”

  1. Andy Umbo Avatar
    Andy Umbo

    I think the correct way to pour a Guinness is right down your throat! (You had to know that was coming….).

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      T R U T H

  2. DougD Avatar

    One thing I learned from going to Ireland is that canned Guinness is not the same as fresh draught Guinness. So I don’t overthink it, I pour the beer in the glass and enjoy it.

    Maybe it doesn’t bother Margaret because it’s made with roasted barley which possibly affects the glutes in the gluten. BTW have you watched the series “Oz and James Drink to Britain”? Episode 4 deals with Guinness.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      No, it isn’t. But it will very much do. We buy it frequently.

      I haven’t watched that series! I’ll put it on my list.

      1. DougD Avatar

        It’s on YouTube. Very funny stuff.

  3. Deloris D Avatar
    Deloris D

    I agree with DougD about the canned Guinness. It’s too bad about the lack of bars serving it where you live. Instead of buying you a coffee, I’ll buy you two a Guinness at Fiddler’s Hearth if and when you come back to South Bend.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Good old Fiddler’s Hearth! I think it opened around the time I left for college. Something like that.

  4. Lee Gloster Avatar
    Lee Gloster

    You mean you didn’t learn how to pour beer in college? :)

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Nope. I didn’t drink much beer in college. I was a whiskey man back then!

  5. tbm3fan Avatar

    Funny but I have always poured beer the way described for some reason. Never taught but think it had something to do with controlling getting more head than beer with the head flowing out the top. Might also have something to do with the fact I only buy bottles and never a can.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I’m known to buy cans sometimes. A particular beer I like comes only in cans.

  6. Michael McNeill Avatar

    Have you tried the new USB charged “Nitrosurge” pump that fits onto special Guinness cans? I’m more of a wine drinker now but my stepson is a big fan of it.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I’ve not heard of it! Now I’ll be on the lookout.

  7. David S Elder Avatar
    David S Elder

    We have/had a Guinness Open Gate Brewery in Halethorpe that made a Blonde Guinness but they are closing the actual Brewery. They will keep the Bar open…

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      The bar probably matters a little more!

  8. J P Avatar

    I am another who loves Guinness and other stouts any time of year. But at home I am a heretic who buys it in bottles and drinks it directly, bypassing the glass altogether.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I’ve been known to do that, as well…

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