While Guinness may be popular around St. Patrick’s Day, when millions of people order the beer in celebration of Irish culture, for many around the world, drinking a Guinness is a daily ritual they take very seriously (in Ireland it’s the top selling beer year round). So if you’re one of those people who only dips your toe into the stout pool a few times a year, don’t look like a newb and pretend to know what you’re doing. Here are the rules for properly drinking a Guinness.
How to Drink a Guinness on Draft
Most Guinness aficionados will tell you that you should only trust a Guinness that’s been poured by someone with an Irish accent. And while that may be true in Ireland — where the beer also somehow tastes better and ordering “a pint” means you’re ordering a Guinness — we’ve definitely found non-Irish bartenders who are more than capable in the States. (As long as they aren’t drawing a Shamrock in the foam. If they do that, do not pay, turn around and walk out. It’s a trap.)
Someone who knows how to properly pour a Guinness will grab a pint glass and fill it from the tap two-thirds of the way full, sure to tilt the glass at a 45-degree angle while pouring. They will then place it on the bar and walk away. At this point, don’t freak out and think the bartender is trying to be cheap by not filling your glass to the brim; have patience, and, whatever you do, don’t touch it. Let the beer settle.
After a few minutes, the beer will be filled the rest of the way with the glass held straight up and down rather than at an angle. When the glass is perfectly filled, the bartender will bring it over to you, but you should wait another few moments before taking your first step as the beer needs more time to settle. You should only drink a Guinness when you can see a clear division between the white foamy head and the dark black beer. If the beer in your glass instead still looks murky and brown, the Guinness isn’t ready. Wait.
When it comes to actually drinking the beer, Guinness is not a beer that begs for you to take your time. Grab the pint and gulp down at least a quarter of the beer as if it’s the first thing you’ve had to drink in years. Now take three more. There should be only four foam lines in the glass when you’re done with it.
How to Drink a Guinness From a Bottle
While the best way to enjoy Guinness is fresh from the tap, the beer brand has fashioned a glass bottle that was specifically designed to mimic the taste of Guinness Draught. The first rule of enjoying a Guinness from a bottle? Do not pour it out. Each bottle is equipped with a “rocket,” which is activated when the bottle cap is removed. This rocket — a plastic device about two and a half inches long — sits inside the bottle and releases a mixture of gasses that are released as the drinker tilts the bottle to their mouth, creating the signature creamy texture of Guinness Draught. If you instead opt for pouring the Guinness into a glass you’ll be met with a beer that lacks foam and is lackluster in flavor compared to a Guinness drunk straight from the bottle.
How to Drink a Guinness From a Can
Similar to Guinness in bottles, Guinness in cans was developed with a spherical widget inside that releases pressurized nitrogen during the drinking process to mimic a nitro draft pour. When the can is opened, pressure within the aluminum drops to match the pressure in the room. As the pressure within the widget itself, which is filled with pressurized nitrogen, is still higher than the beer around it, tiny bursts of nitrogen are released into the liquid. This then provides the brew with Guinness’s classic creamy head.
While Guinness from a bottle should be drunk from the bottle, Guinness from a can should be poured into a glass prior to the first sip. To start, brewers at Guinness suggest your beer be chilled to approximately 46 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, similar to how a Guinness Draught is poured, tilt your glass — which is ideally also chilled — at a 45-degree angle before slowly pouring the beer from the can into the glass until it is three-quarters full. Then, let the beer settle for a few moments before pouring the remainder of the beer directly into the glass. Before enjoying, allow the beer to settle further until the white head has completely separated from the dark beer.