14 March 2024

The perfect Guinness pour: Why it’s different and how to get it right


The famous Guinness pour

Guinness. So famous, that everyone knows how to serve it and why the perfect Guinness pour is so important.

We’re kidding! That’s why we’ve put together this how and why guide.

The draught Guinness we know and love is a comparatively recent addition to the Guinness family. It was first served in British pubs in the late 1950s, while the Dublin brewery itself has been around since 1759.

guinness perfect pour

You could argue that with more than 60 years of practice, we should have the hang of perfectly poured Guinness by now.

Then again a debate on whether it is truly necessary, or nothing more than a marketing ploy, hit the headlines recently after a London-based, but Irish, bar owner (and bartender) suggested there was no such thing as the perfect Guinness pour.

The Avani Solutions view is that Guinness drinkers have a ‘what’s worth having is worth waiting for’ attitude to their favourite brew and expect the traditional two-part pour.

Why is pouring Guinness different?

Guinness served to the brewery’s standard is dispensed with a blend of gas made up of 70% nitrogen and 30% CO2. This is what gives the Black Stuff its characteristic head formation and height.

According to the brewer, the ideal head height is 12 – 18 mm and it should have a tight, uniform texture that lasts until the end of the pint.

Only the perfect Guinness pour, backed up by the highest cellar and glassware standards, will meet drinkers’ expectations.

The flip side of this: the brewer found that 68% of drinkers would send back a pint of Guinness if the head was too large. It also found that 95% of drinkers believe they can judge a beer’s quality solely by its appearance.

How long should it take to pour Guinness?

Do you remember the 1990s Guinness advert with the dancing man? And the amount of dance moves he managed to do while he was waiting for his pint to settle?

It’s a good reminder that Guinness recommends pouring around three-quarters of the pint (so the beer comes to the top of the harp), then allowing nearly two minutes for it to settle, before topping it up.

Regardless of headlines and differing opinions, Guinness has managed to make the pouring ritual inseparable from the experience of enjoying a pint of its stout. It’s fair to say that you ignore that at your own risk!

A step-by-step guide to the perfect Guinness pour

  1. Select a cool, clean, and dry branded Guinness glass – and make sure it’s the most current, up-to-date version!

2.  At the Guinness tap, tilt the glass to a 45-degree angle under the nozzle, ensuring the nozzle doesn’t touch the glass.

3. Pull the tap fully forward and fill the glass about three-quarters full, so the beer comes to the top of the harp, straightening the glass as it fills.

4. Leave the beer to settle until the head has formed – which takes a little under two minutes.

5. Top up the beer, by pushing the tap handle away from you, and fill till the head is just proud of the top of the glass.

6. Present the perfectly poured Guinness to the customer with the branding facing towards them.

Things to remember when pouring Guinness

  • Never put the nozzle into the Guinness. This also means no shamrocks should be drawn on the head. (Not even on St Patrick’s Day!)
  • Don’t let the stout overflow. The outside of the glass should be dry.
  • Never use a spatula to level the head. The slight dome is part of the perfect Guinness pour.
  • The head should be a crisp white colour. Any discolouration suggests the Guinness is in poor condition, which is a warning flag to check line hygiene and ensure the beer is sold within 5-8 days of opening the keg.
  • Discolouration in the head of the Guinness may also indicate that glassware is not clean.

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