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A Taste of Ireland: Guinness - For Strength!
by Bridget Haggerty
Peter O Toole was once asked what was his favorite Irish food: My number one choice is Guinness. My number two choice would be Guinness. My number three choice would have to be Guinness. While there are other stouts brewed in Ireland, including Beamish and Murphys, Mr. OTooles choice is shared by seven out of ten Irish drinkers and probably an equivalent ratio of stout drinkers throughout the world.
Who could have anticipated how important it was to become when, in 1759, Arthur Guinness took over the lease of an abandoned brewery just outside the city walls of Dublin at St. James Gate. Arthur followed the fashion of the times and started out by brewing malty, reddish ales. But, within a decade, he introduced a different kind of beer which would eventually win over the taste of his countrymen and eclipse the dark beers of England.
Brewers in London were already using new methods of roasting barley to produce a darker malt which was then used to make rich, full bodied beers called porter. Supposedly, these new beers got their name because they were so popular with the porters at Covent Garden, a vegetable market in London. Arthur applied the basic formula of the English brewers, using soft Dublin water and Irish-grown barley, hops and yeast. The end-result was a far superior porter to the London brews.
In the 1820s, the Guinness family refined the original porter and introduced a stronger brew called Extra Stout Porter. In time, the name was shortened to stout. As porter became less and less popular in England, Guinness gradually became Irelands most popular drink and, by the time the 20th century rolled around, it was the most popular stout around the globe.
“Guinness is Good for You”, or Guinness Gives You Strength” are two popular ad slogans. But, long before I had heard either one of them, my dad used to give it to us when we were sick. To this day, I can’t stand the stuff because I think of it as medicine. That doesn’t mean I don’t know how to serve it. So, pretend you’re an American tourist who just came up to the bar in Johnny Barry’s, Glengariff, Co. Cork.
Ill take a pint of the black stuff, you say. Very slowly, I almost fill the glass from the tap and then set it down on the counter while I attend to other customers. If youre an experienced Guinness drinker, you know that Im allowing your drink to settle before I give it the final topping up. Even after that, I wont give you your pint until its had a chance to sit for another a minute or two.
What may look like youve been forgotten and your drink kept waiting isnt that at all. The Guinness company is not only very particular about how their beer is made, but also how it is served; and bartenders are given very precise guidelines as to how to pour the perfect pint.
Ultimately, what your bartender is waiting for is that unique cream-colored head to appear above the black brew below it. In Ireland, theres no such thing as an instant stout and you would do well to avoid any pub that serves one.
As for how to drink it well, Ive already said I dont care for it. But, I do know that if you dont want to make a total 'eejit' out of yourself in front of the locals, dont ever sip the head off a pint - it will ruin the drink!
Notes: So, are you fond of Guinness? Russ certainly is! Did you know there was a world wide club of Guinness collectors? Neither did we. The members of this intriguing organization are dedicated to collecting Guinness memorabilia; from true antiques to the latest offerings (of which there are many).
We were introduced to this by Michael Good, an expatriate now living in Beirut, Lebanon. Michael is a Vice Chairman of an Insurance Company. Russ thinks Beirut is a likely spot for insurance opportunities; not as fruitful as earlier years perhaps.
If you are interested, or you suspect a friend may be interested, click Guinness Collector's Club.
Interesting bits about Guinness:
Doctors once prescribed GUINNESS® as a cure for anemia and to help patients through their convalescence.
GUINNESS® used to be recommended to nursing mothers.
The harp is a symbol of Ireland and appears on the back of Irish coins. The Irish Government and GUINNESS® harps are identical except that the GUINNESS® harp faces left, and the official government version faces right
GUINNESS® is Black and White because originally it was invented with Advertising in mind. This was because Black and White was the only printing mode available at the time.
For more interesting items on Guinness visit the Guinness Web Site.
Any purchase made helps to support our site (and Russ' Guinness tab). Thank you.
The New Irish Table
Margaret Johnsons love of Ireland permeates page after glorious page of mouthwatering Irish dishes, from Smoked Salmon Chowder to Raspberry Buttermilk Tarts. Lavish color photographs of the food, the landscapes, and the people are woven through the text, making The New Irish Table the next best thing to sitting down to dinner in Ireland itself.
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March 4, 2011