Pouring the perfect pint of Guinness - Curt Yeomans

You know, you can never have too much Guinness - especially after being taught by the professionals, the proper way to pour a pint. Now, what I'm going to tell you later in this column comes straight from the workers at the St. James Gate Brewery in Dublin, Ireland. This is how you do beer.

Now, if anything, the Guinness Storehouse is like heaven on earth. You go on this self-guided tour, where you wind your way up the building, getting to see the equipment they use to make Guinness along the way. There is even a part where you get to smell (and in the case of some of us, eat) roasted Barley grains, and another part where you walk under a waterfall. It's all very cool. I promise.

Eventually, you arrive on the sixth-floor, and this is where you have to make a decision. You see, at the start of your tour, you are given a ticket for one free pint of Guinness. This does not include the Tasting Lab, where you can get free Guinness shots, on the first floor.

You can use your free-pint ticket in one of two places, on the sixth-floor, in the "Pour The Perfect Pint" room, or on the seventh-floor, in the storehouse's GRAVITY Bar. The difference between the two locations is that on the sixth-floor, you get to pour the pint yourself, whereas on the seventh-floor, someone else pours it for you. I chose the sixth-floor.

Now, every step in pouring the perfect pint is important, because this is the way Guinness says it should be done, and quite honestly, even by Guinness standards, this was the best pint of stout I've ever had the pleasure of drinking.

· First, you put your room temperature Guinness pint glass under the spout, with the glass tilted at a 45-degree angle. When you lift the arm to start the beer flowing, the stream should hit the glass in the middle of the gold harp that is on the side of the glass. You do this until you get the stout up to the bottom of the word "Guinness." During this step, you do not let the spout touch the glass of beer.

· Then, you turn the glass, so it is straight in line with the spout. You continue pouring the stout until the alcohol is half way up the "Guinness" lettering.

· Next, you set the glass down next to the spout, and wait for two minutes while the head rises to the top. See, this isn't one of those froo-froo beers where the head comes out already on top of the beer. With Guinness, you have to let it slowly rise up, when it wants to. You're not going to get massive head, just a thin line of it.

Now, while you might think this is the end, you're wrong. You still have a quarter of the glass left to fill.

· After two minutes have passed, you pick up your pint, and you put it back under the spout. This time, you fill it to the point where it is just reaching the rim of the glass.

· Then you put it back down and wait another minute.

· Put it back under the spout just to create a little dome on top of the head, and then enjoy.

After you have poured your perfect pint of Guinness, you receive a certificate, signed by the staff of the perfect-pint-pouring area, to show that you have, indeed, learned how to properly pour beer.

Now, it's an incredibly complicated process, and to the average American beer guzzler, it may seem a bit over-complicated. However, with any perfect product, it takes time and patience to reach perfection. And, trust me when I say there is nothing more perfect than drinking a perfect pint of Guinness at the storehouse, while looking out on Dublin, toward Trinity College.

Guinness should be treated as the nectar of God, or of the gods, if your religious beliefs include multiple deities. While there are some people out there who want to paint Guinness as a vile drink, that would make one's Irish ancestors spin in their graves. The truth is that no other alcohol exemplifies the hardy nature of Ireland than this strong, sturdy drink.

Curt Yeomans covers education for the Clayton News Daily. He can be reached via e-mail at cyeomans@news-daily.com.