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Ah!! “The Black Stuff”. Guinness is a drink that you will either love or hate the first time you try it. The fact that it is extremely bitter puts some people off at first. However, perceiver and I’m sure you won’t be disappointed. The beer (or rather stout) itself is an opaque black colour, is almost flat and has a very bitter taste.
Guinness was first brewed in Southern Ireland. St. James Gate in Dublin to be exact. However, these days it is brewed in 45 countries and mostly using a concentrate produced in Dublin. Another 27 countries receive finished draft Guinness directly from Dublin. As a result pretty much wherever you are in the world you’ll be able to find somewhere selling Guinness in some form.
You may be surprised to know, as I was, that Guinness actually comes in 19 different varieties. And to be honest, I only know of 3!!! The most common of which is Draught Stout (4.1%). This is the one you will find for sale in pubs and is also available in cans.
The cans have a nitrogen capsule in them which releases very small bubbles when opened so that you get the same draught flow effect from a can that you get from a hand drawn pint.
In order to achieve the perfect pint Guinness has to be poured in a certain way. A barman who knows his stuff will tilt the glass to 45 degree angle and fill it up to just above half-way. This is then allowed to settle for a few minutes before the remainder is added leaving a head of about 1-cm. A head any bigger than this is frowned upon by the hardened Guinness drinker but what’s a couple of millimetres between friends (Said the actress to the…….) Anyway.
Arthur Guinness founded the brewery in Dublin in 1759 and it was he who popularised the term ’stout’. He began brewing in the 18th century to compete with a fashionable imported English equivalent (a type of beer called porter). Guinness took a more bitter flavour when Arthur’s son, also called Arthur, started using unmalted, roasted barley to avoid paying tax.
Another Irish stout worth trying is “Murphy’s (4.3%)”. This is brewed under license in the UK by Whitbread and has a similar malty taste although perhaps slightly dryer than Guinness.
You can’t talk about Guinness and not mention the TV adverts. I think that it is these recent adverts that have kept Guinness from being an old mans drink. By that I mean a drink that you’ll only find in run down pubs where no women are allowed and the regulars enjoy nothing better than a few games of dominoes and a few pints of Guinness. But thanks to some very cool (and some very, very weird) TV adverts Guinness has managed to pitch itself at a younger market. This and the fact that it is Irish is the reason behind the enormous success of Guinness. In my opinion anyway.
So my advice to those of you who haven’t already tried Guinness, for those who have will already love or hate it, is try it. But don’t make your judgement straight away. Try it again. If you’re like me you’ll grow old on the stuff. If not……well all the more for me!!!