Thursday, April 26, 2007

Ruby and Cream, Black and White. Two distinct parts, One perfect pint.

We all know (hopefully!) what a Guinness tastes like but there are few who care about the origin of this beer as long as it stands shimmering and swirling in their glass. We, on the other hand, have decided to delve deeper into the history of this much appreciated and world-famous Irish product.

Let us educate ourselves with a bit of biographical background: Arthur Guinness was born in 1725 in Celbridge, Ireland. His father being already a brewer, Arthur was bound to have a promising future in this field. At age 31, he opened his own brewery in Leixlip, near Dublin. Three years later, he left the business to his younger brother and headed for the capital to set up a bigger one: St James’s Gate Brewery. Despite the problems he encountered, Arthur’s skills and utmost determination enabled him to overcome any obstacle and to be acknowledged as a professional. At first he was only interested in the brewery of traditional ales but in the 1770’s his attention was drawn to the arrival of a new beer known as the Porter. This dark beverage, directly exported from London, was improved by ten years of intensive work in Arthur’s brewery. In 1799 our favourite Irish brewer definitively abandoned the other ales and decided to focus exclusively on the porter. Perfecting it and renaming it after his own name, he gave birth to the Guinness stout. Arthur Guinness died in 1803, but his name and the beer associated with it did not: he had entrusted his son (originally enough named Arthur) with the brewery.

So much for history. It is now time to discover what a Guinness (not to be mixed up with Murphy's or Beamish) is made of.
Water, barley, malt, hops, and brewers yeast constitute its main ingredients. The Guinness owes its dark-ruby colour and characteristic taste to the portion of barley that is flaked, roasted and then added to the mixture which in turn gets pasteurized and filtered. The secret behind the smoothness of the beer is the low level of carbon dioxide, while its unique creaminess is due to the bubbles produced by nitrogen.
Despite prejudices (admittedly more often from female consumers), a pint (0.58 l) of Guinness only contains 198 calories, making it even less fattening than an equal-sized orange juice! Moreover, it is good for the heart, as it has been proved that it reduces harmful cholesterol.
All in all, there are some thirteen varieties of Guinness sold around the world, and about the same number of ways to mix it with other beverages. Largely enough to party all night without having to drink twice the same brew.

Crucial question: how to serve a Guinness?
How can we be clearer than the official Guinness website own words? In short, a Guinness Draught is best served at 6°C and it takes about 119.5 seconds to pour the perfect pint. But hey, as they say, "good things come to those who wait"!

Julie and Pitchou

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