by Kieran Healy on October 6, 2005

This is great. Even if there are a few infelicities. I’m just hoping for the day when American bartenders evolve to the stage where they understand how to pull a pint of stout. Out here in Tucson it’s hard to find pubs where such people exist, though there is one place that has Beamish on tap.

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Crooked Timber » » Guinness Evolution ad
10.23.05 at 5:00 pm



Kosh 10.06.05 at 4:46 pm

Beamish? Isn’t that like a cut rate Guiness?


Kieran Healy 10.06.05 at 4:47 pm

More like unleaded Guinness.


Adam 10.06.05 at 5:01 pm

What exactly is the proper way to pull a pint of stout? I have bartended for years, and poured plenty of Beamish, Guiness, and the local Boulevard Dry stout, but have never been able to see any difference between pours. There are people who want you to pour a little and wait, and pour a little more and wait, and so on, but it doesn’t to make any difference in anything other than how long it takes to pull a pint.


ogged 10.06.05 at 7:01 pm

What exactly is the proper way to pull a pint of stout?

Here’s one explanation.


ogged 10.06.05 at 7:03 pm

Here’s another page that says to fill partway, pour off some of the head, wait five minutes and fill the rest. This method obviously pre-dates the rise of the Irish economy.


ogged 10.06.05 at 7:12 pm

And here’s a story about the great controversy over whether to pour faster. Choice bits:

–the makers of Ireland’s national tipple are testing a new pouring system which they say will slash the waiting time on a pint to 15-25 seconds from the traditional two minutes

–“A two-minute pour is not relevant to our customers today,” the company’s chief executive Paul Walsh said.

–“Our customers will certainly not go for that. Guinness is a traditional drink and I don’t think people will sacrifice that for a little extra speed and efficiency,” he said on Saturday.

Richard Donovan, manager of Doheny & Nesbitt’s bar in central Dublin, concurred.

“You pull a pint (of Guinness) for an Irishman and he expects to wait. If you pull one in less than a minute he’ll say ‘where the hell did you drag that from’,” he said.


Jeremy Osner 10.06.05 at 8:42 pm

This method obviously pre-dates the rise of the Irish economy.

At Milano’s in NYC, where I have drunk a number of glasses of Guiness, the bartenders take 5 minutes or so to pour a pint. It is a fairly busy bar too, they just put the glass on the bar halfway through pouring and do other work — pouring other drinks for other customers — they do not stand around for 5 minutes waiting for the half-poured beer to settle.


johnhayter 10.07.05 at 2:02 am

They just put the glass on the bar halfway through pouring and do other work
Don (now retired) at the Lamb & Flag in Worcester used to do the same. And you should have heard him shout if any tyro was fool enough to to pick up his glass before it was ready.


tadhgin 10.07.05 at 4:03 am

Serving Guinness anywhere is an art and not a science. A good example is the Phoenix in Canberra where they serve a very good Guinness, certainly one of the best outside Ireland. But it takes over 5 minutes to pour. (They half-fill it, let it fully settle, then three quarter fill it, let it settle again and finally top it off. This compares to the usual two fills/two or three minutes in Ireland). Aussie Guinness is a product of Queensland and most pubs serving Guinness there end up with that Mollasses taste the Phoenix avoids.


radek 10.07.05 at 5:34 am

Jeez Christ people, don’t do to beer what you already did to wine. Ruin it with snobbery and esoteric ‘techniques’. Cold to room temparature. With a moderate head. A nod from the barkeep or a smile.

That’s all it takes.

“wait five minutes”

Now that’s some crazy talk.


robotslave 10.07.05 at 6:32 am

Serving Guiness is not an art. It is a craft.

It is a craft that can be learned in less than an hour.

It is a craft that is taught by Guiness employees all across the USA.

This training is provided by Guiness to any bar or restaurant when the establishment starts serving the stout, and is available free of charge at any time thereafter. The training includes not only the proper way to pour a pint, but a great deal of Guiness trivia, and the proper way to make a Black and Tan (though the Guiness reps, being craven company men, will use Harp for the tan).

Yes, there are plenty of places that skip the two minutes of settling time in the interest of quick service, but even in those places, things like temperature, nitrogen mixture, proper settling time, and so on, are for the most part well known even by the bar staff ignoring them, because the Guiness corporation has standardized them, and spent a lot of time and money on encouraging adherence to those standards.

What you don’t get in an American bar when you order a Guiness is the experience of drinking in an Irish, or even UKian, pub. If you want that experience, you will either have to travel back to UKia, or convince all of the patrons in your USian drinking establishment to adopt an entirely different cultural approach to social drinking.


chris y 10.07.05 at 6:32 am

Radek is clearly not a Guinness drinker. It takes 5 min. to pull, you don’t wait five minutes. Any half decent Dublin bartender has upwards of a dozen pints ready before opening time and keeps ahead of the game all night. You’re given one that has had time too settle and be topped up – that’s how you get a moderate head, instead of a glass of foam that can’t be drunk.


johnhayter 10.07.05 at 8:46 am

Radek is clearly not a Guinness drinker.

I’d venture that Radek’s heritage is Bohemia, a place where the beer, while beautiful, gushes from the pivnice tap and where the waiters slam a fresh one on your table without asking you beforehand.


radek 10.07.05 at 9:02 am

“keeps ahead of the game all night”

Ok, that’s a little less crazy talk, though I’ve never seen it actually done. From my observation the ‘settlin’ time’ is more like a fairly respectable 30 secns to a minute. And yes, I’m not a Guinness drinker. I don’t think any respectable beer drinker is a Guinness drinker. It’s a pretty unusual beer with more appeal to the dabbler then the connoiseur. You have it once every fourth months and say “Ah yes, that would be a Guinness”. And then go back to the regular fare.

Next thing you’ll be telling me is that ya’ll want some shamrock patterns poured into your foam.
Gawd, that annoys me.


radek 10.07.05 at 9:14 am


Close enough I guess. But yeah, I was gonna say something to the effect that the Irish weren’t true beer drinkers, though drinkers they may be; the Czechs, the Germans and even the English are. And the image I had in mind was exactly as you describe – ever open taps and big mugs overflowing with golden hops where the idea of waiting 5 minutes to get your beer poured seems like some absurd conspiracy straight out of Kafka. Then I decided that it would be obnoxious of me to say something to that effect.
Apparantly just now I decided otherwise.


jamiecowling 10.07.05 at 9:45 am

robotslave – I’m not too sure you really want to be calling Guinnes “Black and Tan” now do you?


Tucson Sucks 10.07.05 at 12:26 pm

Being from Phoenix, I can relate to your thoughts on Tucson. Asking for a beer in Tucson puts you about 15 seconds into the ad, where they’re walking through the field, just after they learned to wear pants.


Adam 10.07.05 at 2:23 pm

So you guys actually think the beer tastes different if it settles in stages? I guess you all have a way more refined palette than I. I have done blind taste tests and nobody has been able to tell the difference.


larry 10.07.05 at 6:45 pm

Back to the important matter (for those of us who are also in Tucson): where is the establishment with Beamish on tap?


anon 10.07.05 at 7:11 pm

The training includes not only the proper way to pour a pint, but a great deal of Guiness trivia, and the proper way to make a Black and Tan (though the Guiness reps, being craven company men, will use Harp for the tan).

That’s actually an “Authentic Half-and-Half”, according to the Guinness-supplied beer mats at my local Irish-Pub-From-A-Kit.


Kristian Järventaus 10.08.05 at 9:25 am

I know next to nothing about beer, but I’m curious about one thing.

What’s that first bit of orchestral in the commercial? I like my music big.


billyfrombelfast 10.08.05 at 11:11 am

I’m fairly sure no actual Irish people drink Black & Tans (or half and halfs) whether served with Harp or Smithwicks.


billyfrombelfast 10.08.05 at 11:12 am

Kristian, I think the concensus is that the music is a version of Rhythm of Life by Sammy Davis Jr.


Drunken Blout 10.08.05 at 11:47 am

“…peeved at all the inaccuracies.” ? Oy. And I doubt, along with almost everyone here, that “Black Bear homebrew… is just as good [as Guiness].”
Myers is a pedant, and I’m annoyed when he’s chosen to represent ‘my side’ of anything.
Given a the choice between a priest with an imagination and a mathematician without one…
I’d pick a Belgian Monk.


Kristian Järventaus 10.08.05 at 1:16 pm

Ah, so the orchestral bit is the same song? Okieday.


carla 10.08.05 at 5:10 pm

You might consider a trek north to Portland…where beer is taken as seriously here as most any place in the planet.

We’ve got to have something to do besides have sex on those weekend rainy days. :)


scanlon 10.10.05 at 10:06 pm

Well, we all pull our pints in different ways; I guess as long as you get the head creamy it’s all good.

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