Sunday, August 28, 2011
Guinness Draught - Dublin, Ireland
Guinness...just the name either makes you smile, or makes you cringe and contort your face into all kinds of weird positions. The first time that I had to wait 119.53 seconds for a fine pint of Guinness was around 1988. I was a rookie on the John Abbott College Rugby Football Club and part of our "Rookie" night festivities was to "Shoot the boot". This entailed filling a Rugby Boot with a Pint of Guinness and downing it in one huge gulp. It was sort of like shoving an entire loaf of bread down your throat. At the time, I played for another Rugby team...the Beaconsfield RFC, and they served up the black stuff at their local bar...the Green Hornet, therefore, I was never without access to Black Gold. The two Rugby teams, as well as many nights spent at the Old Dublin in the city meant that I was downing a lot of Guinness before I even stepped foot into America.
Am I biased? Maybe a little. But let's start off by pointing out the obvious...Guinness, is not for everyone...it's not even easy to drink...it's more of a tradition and a novelty. People drink it to remember, or maybe to forget. People drink it to feel or taste the history of not just Ireland, but of immigrants everywhere. Guinness has more than flavor, it has experience. Here's what the website had to say:
Swirling clouds tumble as the storm begins to calm, settle, breathe in the moment, then break through the smooth, light head to the bittersweet reward. Unmistakeably GUINNESS®, from the first velvet sip to the last, lingering drop. And every deep-dark satisfying mouthful in between.
Pure beauty. Pure GUINNESS®.
What's the proper way to pour Guinness?
There are six steps for the perfect pour:
1. The first is to make sure you have a clean, dry glass.
2. Second, the glass should be held at a 45-degree angle under the spout.
3. Third, fill the glass three-quarters of the way.
4. The fourth step is let it settle, watching the bubbles trying to get back into the solution.
5. Fifth, fill the rest of the glass, topping it off so the head is proud at the rim.
6. The sixth step is to serve.
That whole piece of theater, that whole ritual, is very important to Guinness. The image of the perfect pint is what we want to have because most people drink their beer with their eyes first. A pint of Guinness should be served in a slightly tulip shaped pint glass (as opposed to the taller European tulip glass or 'Nonic' glass, which contains a ridge approx 3/4 of the way up the glass).
Some other things you may not know about Guinness:
1. After finishing a pint of Guinness you can count the rings in the glass. This will tell you drink how many sips/gulps you took. An Irish person should only see between 5 and 7 rings.
2. If you want to know when a pint of Guinness has properly settled, take a coin and tap the glass gently. If the glass makes a sharp sound, then it has settled. Otherwise if it produces a bland sound then it has some more settling to do.
3. Blackcurrant juice can be added to a pint of Guinness to improve the taste if you are not a fan. This should not be tried in Ireland, as most people will frown upon it.
4. Guinness and steak pie is a common dish that uses Guinness as an ingredient. It is actually quite nice. The alcohol level becomes reduced in the Guinness when the dish has been fully prepared.
5. Putting a shamrock on the Guinness head using the tap is a very skilful task. Not many people can do it properly. You may see shamrocks on the heads but these can be added using a shamrock shaped stamp.
First of all, this is a Stout that bares the standards for all Stouts to meet. The other day, I was at a local Brewery where I ordered their version of a Stout. The first words that came out of the waitresses mouth when I asked about the Stout was that "it was their version of a Guinness". Here was a waitress trying to sell me on their Stout by citing it's resemblance to the competition...now that's respect.
When I crack the can, the insides explode. The hiss and rush of carbonation abounds as the head begins to form in the can. I execute the two-part pour at a 45 degree angle and watch as the bubbles churn in the glass. The head forms perfectly and I sit back to enjoy tradition. It's a Stout, so it's bitter, and creamy...and thick. It's everything that it's supposed to be. I try very hard to take the seven sip approach to the pint. Every time I grab a Guinness, I get more than I bargained for. If Guinness had one knock on it, it would be that you had to put so much effort into the execution of the pint. So much work for a pint gets old after awhile...but for a true pint experience, Guinness cannot be beat. It is hands down, a great Stout.
9/10 - Tradition has a name, and it's Guinness