I had heard a lot of mixed things about Guinness.
My boyfriend, an avid beer drinker of Budweiser, said I wouldn’t like it. I can’t say I am a fan of Budweiser either. But Anthony Bourdain said it tastes like Thanksgiving in glass during his trip to Dublin. And everyone who has been to Ireland has said it tastes better in its birth country than in North America. Something to do with the Irish water?
As a Guinness virgin I took off for Ireland with an open mind and I saved my first taste of the sweet stuff for the Guinness Storehouse. Conveniently TBEX was holding their kick off party there and my first rendezvous with Guinness would be one to remember.
Upon entry men in black suits stood eagerly to help directing us all upward in the massive 7 story factory. As I stood upon the famous 900 year lease, signed by Arthur Guinness and is encased in bullet proof glass upon the floor, I looked upwards. Above my head was a life sized M.C. Escher design of escalators connecting the various floors.
Each floor held different treasures for a foodie. From the selection of cheeses by the famous Sheridans Cheesemongers to experimental foods offered by the Irish culinary scene. There were too many things to literally feast your eyes on. Although I can’t say I really enjoyed the shot of murky liquid that was supposed to taste like a potato dish. I needed a pint to wash my palate and luckily that’s when I arrived at the Guinness pouring area.
My friends from the BlogHouse, Jaclynn of the Occasional Traveller, Julika of Sateless Suitcase and Meagan of A Passport Affair, and even Andrew of True Travellers, all found ourselves standing before various taps of Guinness being asked by a young but seasoned Guinness rep., “Do you want to learn how?”
The number one thing I think we’ve all learned as bloggers is to say yes! So there I was learning to pour my first Guinness and there’s more to it than I had thought.
Here’s how to pour the perfect pint:
1. Hold the Guinness glass at 45˚ angle to the tap. Pull down on the tap allowing the liquid to glide along the side of the glass and pooling at the bottom.
2. Stop when the liquid (not the foam) has reached the bottom of the harp on the Guinness glass. Let the glass sit for 2 minutes until the liquid turns black. This is actually a beautiful process to watch as the brown bubbles rise from the bottom and dissipate into snowy white foam.
3. After the liquid has became a solid blackish colour take the glass and hold it directly beneath the tap. Fill the rest of the way until the foam reaches the threshold of the rim of the glass. Voila! You have a perfectly poured Guinness.
If you have a steady hand you can even create a clover. Create two figure eights by directing the glass with your hand. The centres of the figure eights should overlap, by pouring slowly at the last moments of step 3. When you master this you can add your clover in more detail. Much Guinness drinking may even improve your skills.
I can’t tell you how many times since visiting the Guinness Storehouse that I’ve seen people make mistakes when pouring my very particular Irish beer. If it gets to me too fast I know that they didn’t wait the 2 minutes. If there’s too much foam they didn’t angle the glass enough and they poured too fast.
This was the case in Canada after I returned and decided to compare from memory.
At my local Doc Willoughby’s I ordered a Guinness which arrived too quickly but it was in a Guinness glass at least. I sipped by pursing my lips against the rim parting the liquid and foam. They say the way to tell if you drink the Guinness properly is to ensure that the same amount of foam is left in the glass as when you received it. This also takes skill.
The taste here in Canada was still delicious and wasn’t at all as bad as I had expected it to be. There’s a difference, a je ne sais quoi, but of course nothing can compare to drinking Guinness in Ireland. I’ve got to admit that whether its at a classic Irish pub in Ireland or Canada for that matter, what makes drinking Guinness all the sweeter is sharing it with friends as it has been implemented since its beginning in 1759.
The best thing about TBEX was that they fed you and helped quench your thirst at all the events. They didn’t do it half heartedly either. Everything there was the best of even if the food didn’t turn out well the idea behind it was fascinating. The environment was extremely friendly as well where we were all encouraged to connect, ask questions and interact with the Irish culture, producers as well as the bloggers you shared the space with. And many of those bloggers became my friends in Ireland.