From pouring the perfect pint to food pairings, it’s time to get schooled on how to enjoy a Guinness.
It’s easy to think of stouts as heavy beers, but don’t be fooled by their appearance. What many don’t know is that some dark beers offer one of the lowest alcohol contents. Guinness is one such example – steeped in history, this iconic Irish stout is known for its smooth and rich flavour and enjoying a pint of Guinness involves a six-step process. Surprised? For the complete lowdown, we’ve asked brand ambassador Domhnall Marnell on everything you need to know about Guinness.
How would you introduce the Guinness to newbies?
Guinness in Singapore comes in two main varieties, Guinness Draught and Guinness Foreign Extra Stout. Both have very unique characteristics but both are smooth and rich in flavour with a coffee-like after taste. In my experience, when people lay their eye on a Guinness stout for the very first time, they will sometimes assume that it’s “heavy” or “too strong” purely because of its colour. What I always say is, if you like dark flavours in your chocolate or coffee, then why not your beer?
What gives Guinness its unique black characteristic?
The true colour of Guinness is not actually black, but in fact a deep ruby red. When the light catches the bottom of the glass, you can see this plain as day! This comes from the roasted raw barley that we use as a small proportion of our grain. We roast this barley on site at St. James’s gate and we are the only brewery in the world anywhere near this size to roast all of our own grain!
How does a stout differ from other dark beers, such as a porter?
Stouts and porters both belong to the ale family of beers. Traditionally, porters were dark ales, enjoyed by the porters in London’s Covent Garden. Stout porters were strong versions of that original porter recipe. How our Guinness Draught differs greatly from most modern porters and stouts is the use of nitrogen gas during the pour, to give the beer its velvet smooth texture and creamy head.
So there’s always talk about the six steps to pouring a perfect Guinness Draught. Why is this process important?
Each step is designed to contribute to the perfect pint. A perfect pint of Guinness is one poured in a clean glass, with a 15mm head, doming above the top with absolutely no spillage or visible blemishes. To achieve this we follow these 6 steps:
- Take a clean and dry Guinness glass at room temperature.
- Hold the glass at a 45-degree angle to the tap nozzle and pull the tap all the way down.
- Straighten the glass until it’s even and stop the pour at the top of the Golden Guinness Harp.
- Leave the beer to settle until all of the nitrogen bubbles have reached the head of the beer. When the beer changes from light brown to a dark ruby red, the settling is complete. This usually takes about 90 seconds.
- Top off the pint by pushing the tap backwards, releasing a slower flow, and stop when the foam is peaking above the rim of the glass without spilling a drop.
Skipping any of these steps could result in different imperfections such as a small head, spillage, bubbles on the top of the pint etc.
What is the difference in terms of flavour/texture between Guinness Foreign Extra Stout and Guinness Draught?
Bottled Guinness Foreign Extra Stout is carbonated, compared to the smooth nitrogenation of Guinness Draught. Foreign Extra Stout in Singapore has a 5.5% alcohol content versus the 4.2% of Guinness Draught, with a bolder flavour and a slightly sharper kick with notes of caramel. On that note, the Draught is smoother, more velvety and finishes like a rich coffee.
About that ball in the Guinness Draught can…
The Guinness Draught can has a small ball inside known as a widget. This was developed in 1988 and it exists to release the nitrogen gas for the formation of the Guinness head. When you open the can, the gas releases from the ball due to the pressure change. Then, when you pour into a glass, the beer will surge just as it does when poured from a tap.
What food pairs well with Guinness?
The rich coffee and chocolate like flavours of Guinness beers go extremely well with red meats. We often say that Guinness can be used in any case that you’d normally use a red wine. In addition to this, deserts like chocolate mousse or ice cream are complemented by the texture and flavour of the beer. Finally, the most traditional pairing with Guinness beers is seafood, or more specifically, oysters. The Guinness in this case acts as a palate cleanser as the coffee-like flavours cleanse and clean the palate after the saltiness of the oysters.
Can Guinness be used for cooking the way ales are used?
Absolutely! The only limit here is your imagination. Most frequently, we will use Guinness to marinate beef in a stew, or as an ingredient in ice cream, chocolate mousse, burgers and many more! It’s also traditional to use Guinness in Christmas puddings here in Ireland.
Wanna pour yourself a Guinness like a pro? Give it a go this weekend at these different bars and cafes around Singapore.
This article is sponsored by Guinness.