Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Perfect Pint

If the Republic of Ireland had a king, it would be King Arthur. Aurthur Guinness, of course. Every pub in Ireland serves the "black stuff". If a certain pub didn't have a Guinness tap handle, King Arthur would send his men in, offer a dozen free barrels, put out the Guinness swag, and maintain the tap lines, just to keep rival brewers out. If a competing brewer continued flexing it's beer muscles, King Arthur would simply buy the "little guy". Just ask Smithwick's. Yet a visit to Dublin is not complete unless you've poured your perfect pint at the Guinness Storehouse.

A good day in Dublin starts on the bus. Take a ride out to Kilmainham Gaol(jail) after your Full Irish breakfast. Your tour guide will walk you from early jail time up to the time it closed soon after the Easter Rising in 1916. During the "great famine", many of the Irish, including young children, would commit petty crimes just to get a bowl of soup and a hunk of bread in jail. The guide will assure you that this period of Irish history was anything but great. Sixty years later the men and women seeking independence from British rule formed the Irish Republican Brotherhood. After years of rebellion, bloodshed, and executions a treaty was signed and here we are in the Republic of Ireland with British rule up North.

Boy, all this history, I'm getting thirsty. Let's jump on the bus and learn about the beer history of Ireland at the Guinness Storehouse, just up the road. Get your ticket on the first floor. Yes, you'll get a beer, be patient. Move up to the upper floors and marvel at King Arthur's Castle. Take a look at the 9000 year lease Arthur signed in 1759 to occupy the space at St. James Gate for 45 British pounds per year. Wow! $5 monthly rent, time to celebrate.

If you time it right, there's a beer, food pairing demo on the 4th floor. See, your patience has paid off. Here you can sample beer that goes well with nosh. In our case, a small cracker slathered with salmon mousse. Now, let's get a pint.

Take the glass elevator up to the next floor. On the way up, notice that each level of the Storehouse widens as you go up. Cool, we're in a pint glass which is topped off on the 7th floor, the head on the pint, the Gravity Bar. But wait, let's pour our own on the 5th floor.

Stand behind the grand Guinness tap handle and grab a clean glass. Hold the glass at a 45 degree angle, PULL on the handle aiming the tap nozzle on the harp decal on the glass. As it fills, tip the glass to nearly level. Stop pulling at three quarters full. Set the glass on the bar, Guinness label facing the customer, and let it rest. Remember, good things take time. After 90 seconds, grab the glass, holding it level, and PUSH the handle to fill your glass until a head forms just below the rim. The head should rise just a tad over the rim of the glass without spillage. Set the glass on the bar, again Guinness label toward the publican, and viola, you've poured a perfect pint.

Here's to you King Arthur...


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