Beer Break Vol. 2, No. 21
Fast women, not fast beers
Feb. 28, 2002
A few years ago, your editor spent a day with a Guinness draft technician in
Chicago, where Guinness has a startling presence. There are neighborhood bars
with an Old Style sign hanging out front and two beers on tap - Old Style and
Ken O'Callaghan showed an amazing devotion to quality and faith in the
product he was promoting. "We're going to catch people one by one. One day,
you're not drinking Guinness. Then you try it, and you're drinking Guinness
for the rest of your life," he said.
"But a bad pint, that's another story. Let's say Joe's bar doesn't present
the best product. You're there, you say, 'Tonight, I'm going to try a
Guinness.' You try it here and you decide you're never going to try it again.
We just want a fair shot, then let the consumer make his decision."
As a draft technician, O'Callaghan's job was to make sure every Guinness
account poured a proper pint. That meant that the gas had to be set right,
the (pouring) spout clean an operating correctly, and the staff well trained.
He made the point many times a day that a properly poured pint tastes better.
The show of taking the time to pour the beer, of doing it in parts, of
letting it cascade and settle, of getting a head so thick that some
bartenders drew designs in it didn't hurt sales either.
That's why news out of London that Guinness is experimenting with a quicker
pour option seems a bit surprising. To be fair, it's only an experiment and
only being considered for busier outlets. "In outlets where it is really
busy, if you walk in after 9 o'clock in the evening, there will be a cloth
over the Guinness pump because it takes longer to pour than other drinks," a
The news was met immediately with angry protests in the beer's homeland of
Ireland. "You pull a pint (of Guinness) for an Irishman and he expects to
wait. If you pull one in less than a minute he'll say 'Where the hell did you
drag that from'," noted one bartender.
We thought it made sense to see how a faster draw might be received
elsewhere, mostly in the United States, so we set up a poll and began collecting comments.
The comments - as we've come to expect from Realbeer.com readers - were
eloquent. Here are a few
From George Petrigliano: "Fast women? OK. Fast beer? Come on. No way!"
From Bob Maney: "Watching that glorious dark liquid and creamy head slowly
forming in your glass is part of the Guinness experience, it is the
expectation before the enjoyment. After all you don't really enjoy sex unless
some serious foreplay has taken place do you?"
From Sharon: "Love Guinness - love to watch it 'mature' into something you
want to drink. Used to have a boyfriend who would get the foam all over his
moustache and want me to lick it off ... traditional speed for me."
From David DeVore: "Why fix something that isn't broken. I've never had a
problem with the time it takes to pour a pint. You just order your next pint
before you finish your current one."
Apparently it can't be that easy. Nor is it as simple as when O'Callaghan was
16 years old and started tending bar in his homeland of Ireland. The place
had 65 taps, and did a brisk busy. But there was never a need to hurry a pint
of Guinness, because 16 of those handles poured the stout exclusively.
One minute and 59 seconds at a time.
Pairing of the week
Warm days and all this talk of smoked beer have us ready to fire up the grill
and toss on some meat for a beer-food pairing that never fails. But cooking
out doesn't have to be just about meat. We turned to Stephen Beaumont of
World of Beer
for an alternative:
"The orange peel and coriander spicing of a refreshing Belgian white beer,
such as the Belgian Blanche de Bruges or Hoegaarden White, or the
Quebec-brewed Blanche de Chambly, will make a believer out the most sceptical
beer disdainer, and provide the perfect complement to the sweet, buttery
flavour of grilled corn-on-the-cob in the bargain."
Brewed by Harpoon Brewery in Boston
Michael Jackson writes:
I have known this beer since its earliest days, and its salient features seem
unchanged: its teasing, gold-to bronze color; perfumy aroma, firm, almost
brittle, body; cookie-like maltiness; fruity palate; and flowery, hoppy
finish. In this bottling, I note an especially creamy aroma, strawberry-like
fruitiness and a nice counterpoint of crispness in the finish.
KING'S PEAK PORTER
Brewed by Uinta Brewing Co. in Salt Lake City
Roger Portz writes:
Pale by porter standards, this throws a lovely barley-white head and has an
aroma booming with chocolate, roasted grain and dark hedgerow fruits. In the
mouth, bitter chocolate is well balanced by tart, spicy hops, while the
finish is quenching, with bitter fruit, peppery hops and dark malt
dominating, with some extremely bitter chocolate notes coming through at the
final flourish. The brewers have learned the secret of true porter: that they
had to be quenching to refresh those, such as street-market porters, who were
engaged in heavy labor. This would be a heavenly beer with oysters or shrimp.