While Guinness may be the most popular around St. Patrick’s Day, when millions of people order the beer for the kitsch of it, for many, including most people who are Irish – in Ireland it’s the top selling beer year round – drinking a Guinness is a daily ritual they take very seriously. 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, act like you’ve been there before! Here are the rules for properly drinking a Guinness.
First and foremost the only way to drink a real Guinness is to drink one that’s on draft – drinking it from the bottle or, even worse, one of those CO2 cans, does not allow for the full experience. Don’t waste your time. Head to a bar that has the beer on tap, and order it there — you’ll thank us and your dignity.
Most Guinness aficionados will also tell you to only trust a Guinness that’s poured by someone with an Irish accent, and while that may be true in Ireland – where the beer also somehow tastes even better and ordering a pint by default 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.
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Someone who properly knows how to pour a Guinness will grab a pint glass and fill it from the tap two-thirds of the way full. 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 bartender will return and fill the pint the rest of the way. When the glass is perfectly filled, it will be brought over to you, but at this point, it’s still not ready to be consumed. Just as before, the beer needs 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 is not ready. Wait.
Finally you’re ready to drink your beer. Guinness is not a beer you daintily sip, or one for which you slurp the head off before drinking the rest – drinking the beer in either of these manners will be another sure-fire reason for people to question your authenticity. Instead, grab the pint and gulp down at least a quarter of the beer, as if it’s the first drink you’ve had in years. Now take three more gulps. There should be only four foam lines in the glass when you’re done with it.
If you want to look even more legitimate, order a shot of Irish Whiskey to go along with your pint, but don’t even think about drinking the chaser until you finish your beer.
That’s how you drink a Guinness.