The perfect pour

March 15, 2006|by KRISTIN WILSON

Guinness stout is not the drink for impatient people.

While a draft Bud Light can be served in about 30 seconds, it can take about two minutes to properly pour a pint of the famous Irish brew.

This Saint Patrick's Day, Friday, March 17, millions of people will raise their glasses to toast Saint Patrick and everything Irish. The holiday makes drinks such as Guinness, Bailey's Irish Cream and Jameson Irish whiskey popular at bars and restaurants, say Tri-State bartenders.

But serving a Guinness, or any of the other Irish and English beers that require a slow pour, can be serious business for beer purists.


"It's a two- to three-minute ordeal," explains Darryl Sword, co-owner of The Corner Pub in Hagerstown. "If you're in a hurry, you better pick another drink."

The Guinness company recommends guidelines of how to properly pour and serve its beer. Sword is one who pays close attention to what is known as the two-part pour.

Step one: Sword slowly pulls the Guinness spigot drawing the beer into a glass held at a 45-degree angle. He fills the glass two-thirds full before placing the beer to the side.

"The proper way is to set it down and go do something else for about a full minute," he says. The chocolate-colored brew must settle before the pour continues.

Step two: After the wait, Sword fills the glass to the brim and hands the foaming pint to a customer. The customer watches as the beer settles and a thick, white head rises to the top.

"When you serve it to the customer they have to be patient, too," Sword says. It's best to wait until the beer has totally separated, he adds. "Then it's ready to drink."

In addition to the slow pour, Guinness recommends serving the dark beer at 42.8 degrees and, when it's on draft, it must be mixed with the right balance of nitrogen and carbon dioxide gases.

The two-part pour is the same technique used to serve English beers such as Tetley's English Ale and Boddingtons.

Another popular drink that involves a detailed pour is a Black and Tan. To serve this drink, bartenders fill a glass half way with Bass Ale, an English beer. Then, to prevent mixing, the bartender slowly pours Guinness into the glass over an upside down spoon. If poured correctly, the Bass sits on the bottom, while the Guinness beer floats on top.

This drink has controversial origins, Sword says. While the Black and Tan name refers to the drink's appearance - Bass is a lighter, golden beer, and Guinness appears black - it also is an allusion to the Black and Tans, the British soldiers sent to Ireland by the British government in the early 1920s to suppress Irish revolutionaries. In the Black and Tan drink, Guinness rests symbolically on top of the English ale, Sword says.

A Half-and-Half beer is served the same way, but the Bass is replaced with Harp Lager, a light-colored beer manufactured by Guinness.

Beer mixes don't have to be a full pint. Matt Henneberger, a bartender who occasionally works for the Hagerstown-based bartending service Bartender To Go, recommends a Black Velvet or Eclipse.

The Black Velvet drink combines Guinness and pear cider, and an Eclipse layers Blue Moon Belgian White beer with Guinness.

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