The Mystery Behind Pouring the Perfect Guinness: Step-by-Step Guide

For some reason Guinness seems more prone to be shrouded in a veil of mystery than any other type of beer out there. It is popular dry Stout which was originally developed in Ireland back in the late 1700s. Three centuries later, it remains one of the most popular beers across the globe. Because it is unique in many ways, it must be treated differently when pouring, kegging and distributing it.

We’ve previously discussed how to pour the perfect draft beer. However, in that article we failed to mention that pouring Guinness takes a slightly different technique. To honor our devoted Guinness drinkers, we’d like to take this opportunity to teach you how to pour the perfect pint of Guinness.

Why Does Guinness Need to be Poured Differently?

The first question many people ask is why Guinness must be poured differently from other beers. There are a number of reasons for this, but the most important is the ratio of nitrogen to carbon dioxide. Guinness relies on a much higher nitrogen ratio than any other type of beer. For the perfect pint, the gas mixture is 75 percent nitrogen and 25 percent carbon dioxide released at a pressure of between 30 and 40 pounds per square inch. Additionally, because the beer is so thick it takes longer for the nitrogen bubbles to release which is essential to pouring it correctly.
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The Perfect Pour: Tricks & Tips for Pouring the Best Tasting Beer

Pouring the perfect beer is a bit of an art, and it’s certainly not as simple as it looks. Think of those commercials where the bartender turns and angles the beer glass as he pours. That’s exactly what you need to do in order to achieve the perfect pour. If you’re currently just holding the glass under the tap as you pour, it is time to learn something new.

3 Tricks to Pouring the Perfect Beer

The Perfect Beer

Here’s a brief summary of our three favorite tricks to pouring the perfect beer.

  • Start with a clean glass:
    While this should be common sense, many people don’t seem to realize how a dirty glass can actually ruin your your beer. Oil residues, dust or blemishes not only look bad, but they may also impede the flavors within the beer.
  • Hold your glass at a 45° angle:
    When you turn the tap on, make sure you’re holding the glass at a 45° angle. Once you turn the tap on and the beer is flowing, make sure the stream of beer always hits the slope in the middle of your glass. Hold your glass at this position until is is approximately half-full.
  • Slowly tilt your glass to 90°:
    This is arguably the most important step. After the glass is approximately half-full, slowly tilt it up to a 90° angle as the beer fills the glass. This last motion will create the perfect amount of head. To create the perfect pour, it’s essential to have a little bit of a head in every beer. We recommend no more than an inch of foam head.

Once you have the basic pour mastered, try adding a few more moves. First, hold the glass about 4-6 inches away from the faucet or tap. Never put the faucet inside the glass as you pour. Second, when you tilt your beer from 45 to 90 degrees, add a quarter-turn twist. This gives your pour an extra bit of finesse. Lastly, to make the beer look more appealing, practice stopping your pour just as the foam reaches the rim of the glass.

Why Foam Head is Essential for a Perfect Pour

This is a common debate amongst beer lovers – how much foam head should your beer have?

The general rule of thumb that we like to follow, is to keep about an inch of foam at the top of each beer. This is for a variety of reasons. Not only does a little bit of foam look better, but it helps circulate plenty of aromatics that allows you to taste the full flavor of the beer, as it was intended to be tasted.

Additionally, a small layer of foam will help keep your beer fresh. The oxygen in the air can actually start to breakdown your beer, leaving it tasting somewhat stale. The foam head provides an extra layer of protection against that oxygen, leaving you with a fresher tasting beer. On top of that, the proper amount of foam head will release carbon dioxide. This will leave you without that bloated feeling when you’re done with your beer.

How Kegerators Help Achieve The Perfect Pour

EdgeStar Kegerator

Kegerators have multiple advantages over the plain beer keg. Not only do they keep your beer cool for several months, they also contain a mounted faucet to aid in pouring. If you are familiar with tapping kegs, and then trying to simultaneously hold both the glass and the tap steady, then you will surely appreciate the ease of a kegerator faucet. Getting a perfect pour from a traditional beer keg is possible, it’s just significantly more difficult.

A kegerator like the EdgeStar kit comes with everything necessary to create the perfect pours, excluding the keg of beer, of course. The faucet is at just the right height to allow you to twist, turn and tilt your glass, without the worry of spilling a drop. If you are pouring from a kegerator, we would advise to go the extra step and use real beer glasses, instead of cheap plastic cups.

Learning how to pour the perfect beer takes a bit of practice, but the payoff is well worth the effort. Mastering the art of tilting and maneuvering a beer glass until it fills just to the brim is one of those skills that separate true beer enthusiasts from amateurs. Give your beer pouring a few practice rounds, then invite your friends over and show off your style.

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