Ireland has a special place in my heart. I lived there for half a year and travelled back many more times after that. Therefore I decided that I’ll dedicated the next two blog posts about Irish beers. This week’s post will be about stouts with Guinness in the spotlight and next week’s will be about the real ales. If you’re in for a laugh, make sure to check the video at the end of this post as Conan O’Brien describes how every tourist feels in the brewery.
One of the first things that I did as tourist back then was to visit the Guinness brewery at the St. James Gate. I received the standard tour with a history lesson and some information about the basics of brewing. After being forced to make my way through the souvenir shop I finally reached the only destination I cared for when I set foot in that building and that was to pour my own pint of Guinness. I even received a certificate for pouring it perfectly (just like every other tourist that ever set foot in the brewery).
As I was about to take the so beloved first sip of my pint I noticed how the chocolate milk colour slowly settled, revealing the famous dark and rich colour of the stout.
To be honest, the first sip wasn’t all that great. I was let down by it, but I had never drank a stout before so I just blamed it on that. It took me nearly half a pint to finally be able to pinpoint the flavours and to appreciate the taste of a Guinness. Now I don’t have that problem any more, as I enjoy every single sip of a well poured Guinness.
A little fun fact about Guinness is that the lease for the beer, back in 1759, was signed by Arthur Guinness for a total of 9000 years. We won’t be running out of Guinness anytime soon.
The science behind the famous stout.
In a previous post I talked about the basic components of beer. All beers use the same basic ingredients but there is a lot of variation in those. Different types of malt, yeast, hops and even different sources of water. It all determines the flavour of the beer.
If you hold a pint of Guinness the first thing that catches your eyes is the dark brown/black colour. This is the effect of the used malt as every beer consists of a ratio of pale and dark/roasted malt. While a normal lager will only use a small amount of dark malt, Guinness and other stouts tend to use quite a bit more.
The second eye catcher is that the beer is still. In most other beers you can enjoy the whirlwinds of carbon dioxide making its way through the beer all the way to the head. With a stout you can stare as long as you want, you won’t see that effect. That’s because other type of beers are poured with CO2 on tap hence why they’re carbonated drinks. A stout however is poured with a mixture of CO2 gas and nitrogen making it an almost still drink. The stout obtains its thick and creamy properties because of this making it quite a heavy pint. That’s why it’s often called a meal in a glass.
Last but not least is the collar. With a normal beer the collar will start fading rather quickly because of the effect of oxygen in the air on the proteins holding the foam together. The typical thing about a Guinness is that the collar will stay until your glass is empty due to the composition of the proteins. The only thing that will happen if you keep your beer untouched for too long is that the collar will get a grimy-yellow colour and become stale. Though that’s a rare sight as it’s more than likely that someone will steal your pint to evade it from going stale. Wasting a Guinness is considered uncivilized.
For more information about Guinness you can visit the official site: https://www.guinness.com
If you want to learn how to pour a perfect pint of Guinness then check this video to learn the how-to from a master brewer himself.
I hope you learned something new about the famous Irish stout today. As the Irish would say, ‘Sláinte’, meaning cheers in Gaelic.
~Blanckey The Brewer