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Friday, June 06, 2008

Guinness Fact or Fiction?

“Dude, the legend is true—Guinness really does taste better in Ireland,” shouted an American tourist standing next to me recently at the trendy Gravity Bar on top of the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin. While I wanted to laugh off the idea, I have to admit that I was thinking the same thing. Every taster has his/her own theory to explain this phenomenon—some claim it’s in the quality of the water, others insist that it's all about the taps, and others dismiss the idea altogether as a silly urban myth. According to Todd Schwartzman, a Guinness rep in the States, even though the legendary stout is brewed in 50 countries and distributed in over 150, consistency is always top of mind. He assures me that the Guinness I enjoy in the U.S. is just as rich and creamy as a pint from its Irish homeland. I’m still not completely convinced, but what do you think? Have you experienced it for yourself or are you one of the naysayers? Ponder it over a pint yourself, or better yet, whip up a batch of our gooey Guinness cupcakes from the Nov/Dec 2006 issue and let us know! —Tracy Howard


Slow said...

Guinness I've had here is very, very close to the Guinness I've had in Ireland, but it's not the same. Water, distance traveled and taps all make a difference. The taps, however, should be the same wherever is properly cleaned and maintained. There's also the fact that, everything is better when you're on vacation.

erik_flannestad said...

Yeah, it's better there.

My wife, who doesn't even normally enjoy Guiness loved it at the Gravity Bar. I think they put some special ingredient in the beer!

Seriously, aside from the Gravity bar, there was a lot of inconsistency from bar to bar even in Ireland.

I seem to remember the Stag's Head in Dublin having some of the best pints. It comes down to maintaining the lines and having enough turnover for the beer to be as fresh as possible.

Other than that, beer is always better fresher. Thus the less it travels, the better it is.

Drink local!

jim said...

I've always thought this! The Guinness I had in Ireland was nothing like what I've had in the US, and I've searched far and wide. Some have come close, but nothing quite matches up. Seems to also have something to do with the pour. But I also agree that everything tastes better on vacation.

Chris said...

I've never been to Ireland, but I've seen a massive difference in the pints I had in New England (where there's generally a healthy respect for a proper pub and a hearty beer) and out here in California (where they actually have Budweiser on draught [ugh]). Even when your Guinness is properly slow-poured, the quality of the pint seems to have a lot to do with the pressure and ratio of nitrogen to CO2 used by the bar, as well as the cleanliness of their taps.

Here's a really interesting article on the so-called Guinness draught technicians that tour the country teaching barkeeps how to pour the perfect pint:


Baylen said...

I've always thought this was a ploy to get tourists to visit Ireland.

GalwayGirl said...

I've been trying to figure this one out for 15 years. I lived there for a while, so I'm not convinced it's the vacation thing. Maybe it's something in the air over there: sea breezes and burning peat. Who knows? Slainte!

Siobhan said...

galwaygirl - I have to agree, the air is something special in Ireland. I love Galway most of all the cities I've visited in Ireland. It's such a wonderful, walkable, happening town. Great craic!

Anonymous said...

I spent a few weeks at St James Gate hanging out with Guinness people and with a VP named Steven. At that time the Guinness we drink here is made at St James and I could not tell any difference at all, even after acclimating in beautiful Ireland.
I suppose it's possible travel could have some minimal effects however beer is a darn stable drink.
If the draft beer lines are not maintained well that will be the factor with taste. Not to mention the system must be correctly setup in the first place.
In my opinion there is no difference if the beer is treated well.