In 1759, Arthur Guinness gambled everything he owned on his conviction that he could brew better beer than anyone else in Ireland. After signing a 9,000-year lease on a vacant brewery at St. James Gate in Dublin, he began making ale and a darker version of it, porter. Three decades later, he decided to specialize in the even darker, stronger porter variant called stout, the ancestor of the black brew that still bears his name.
Guinness Stout: Two Versions
The two main variants of Guinness are Draught and Foreign Extra Stout. According to Guinness, Foreign Extra Stout, the older brew, has "floral overtones," while Draught has "caramel and coffee tones." These dry stouts go well with -- and also work as an ingredient in -- Irish beef stews, black bread and seafood recipes.
Mastering the Two-Part Pour
Cans and bottles of Guinness contain a small plastic nitrogen-releasing device the company calls a "widget," designed to create the same head of creamy foam you get on stout poured from a keg or tap. There may be a bit of blarney to the claim that it takes precisely 119.5 seconds to pour the perfect Guinness, but the takeaway advice is not to rush this two-stage process. Start with a tulip-shaped pint glass. Hold it at a 45-degree angle and pour until about three-quarters full. Set it down and wait until the bubbles have risen to the top. Then pour the Guinness straight down until the foam rises to just over the top of the glass.
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