Pour a Proper Guinness

Here are the 4 steps to pouring (and sipping) the perfect pint of Guinness, just like a true Irishman.
By: Patty Hodapp
Related To:
Guiness glasses on a bar

Guiness glasses on a bar

Guiness glasses on a bar

Photo by: Richard I'Anson / Lonely Planet Images / Getty Images

Richard I'Anson / Lonely Planet Images / Getty Images

People in Ireland will tell you: It’s not as easy as it looks. Sure, most people know that pouring Guinness calls for a 2-part pour (the first to settle, the second to top it off). But in reality, it’s so much more than that. Pouring a Guinness involves a precise process to achieve a settled heavy mass of velvet black beer under a smooth, creamy white head that sits just above the lip of the pint glass. In other words, pouring Guinness — the right way — is an art.

That art goes way back. In 1759, Arthur Guinness leased property for the Guinness Storehouse (Guinness headquarters) at St. James’s Gate in Dublin for the following 9,000 years — at an annual fee of just $65. Guinness has been made the same ever since: from roasted barley, hops, yeast and water. More than 150 countries brew it, and over 10 million glasses are poured daily. Plus, you can also cook with it; the Guinness Storehouse has a comprehensive list of signature recipes.

But the best part remains the pour. You don’t have to have your own bar to try pouring; you can actually pull your own at the Guinness Storehouse or at home. After chatting with dozens of Irish bartenders — and pouring our own — here are our 4 perfect-pour steps, whittled down to perfection.

Step 1: Choose the Right Glass and Proper Angle.
Choose a clean, dry, 20-ounce, tulip-shaped pint glass. The bump in the wider neck allows nitrogen bubbles to move down the side of the glass and back up into the neck of the beer. Tilt the glass away from you at a 45-degree angle; if you don’t, the Guinness will froth, will take forever to settle and may taste bruised.

Step 2: Pull the Tap Toward You.
That way, you release the Guinness until it fills the glass to the bottom edge of the tulip’s bump. On many Irish tulip pint glasses, there’s a gold harp icon (aka the Guinness harp); for the truly perfect pour, fill it halfway up this harp. Then, don’t touch it until you see a vivid distinction between the dark ruby-red body and creamy white head. This may take a few minutes, so sit back and relax.

Step 3: Hold It Level.
Once it’s settled, put your Guinness up to the tap and hold it level. (You want a dome effect when you top it off, so skip the 45-degree angle this time.) Push the tap away from you, pouring the Guinness slower. Aim directly into the middle of the foam head until it settles half a millimeter above the lip of your pint glass. Wait. A smaller, second settling period is crucial.

Step 4: Sip It Right.
The last and perhaps the most important step is sipping your Guinness. Hold it up to the light to marvel at the ruby-red color. Then, bring it to your lips, and sip the foam until you hit the body of the beer. Swish. Swallow. Bottom’s up.

But if you can’t resist having an Irish bartender pour you a pint, remember this cardinal Guinness-drinking rule: Paws off. Don’t touch your Guinness before the bartender hands it to you. The perfect pour takes time.

Keep Reading

Next Up

A Swiss Filmmaker Talks Travel and Good Luck Charms

The Paris Opera director Jean-Stéphane Bron talks about his latest documentary and his travel obsessions.

Discover Positano: Italy's Enchanting Coastal Village

Take a photographic tour of one of the country's most picturesque destinations.

Take a Dip... in a Beer Pool

This Austrian brewery doesn't have just one pool of beer: it has seven.

Escape Tuscany’s Crowds at These Under-the-Radar Spots      

Find local treasures, amazing food and wine and Italian hospitality at these out-of-the-way spots.

The Ultimate Dublin Bucket List For U2 Fans

9 unforgettable restaurants, cultural hotspots and natural wonders to discover in Ireland's capital.

World's Best Beer Gardens

Travel to the world's best beer gardens.

A Guinness Tour of Dublin

The best places to sip a pint of Guinness in Dublin.

Top 5 Pubs in Ireland

Get a true taste of Ireland at these 5 pubs.

What to Know About Moving to France

Are you about to pack your bags and move to France? Get the information you need before you make the move.

What to Miss in London

Madame Tussauds and Big Ben are just a couple places it's OK to miss if you're visiting London. Get the details about these tourist spots and more.