Pouring the Perfect Pint

By Jason Schwartz | Boston Magazine |

A glass of Guinness that’s been poured just right is a work of art. Done wrong, it’s a waste of one of the world’s most precious resources.

THE PROPER GLASS A dry, tulip-shaped glass will let the stout’s flavors shine. And make sure it’s room temperature, not chilled. “The Guinness adheres to the glass, letting out the aroma of the beer better than in a cold glass,” says Keith Douglas, bar manager at Doyle’s in Jamaica Plain. “A true Irishman wouldn’t have a Guinness in a cold glass, that’s for sure.”

THE FIRST POUR Start by pulling the tap toward you, then fill the glass about two thirds. Most Irish bars have Guinness glasses with harps on them, and a good rule of thumb is to stop once the beer reaches the middle of the harp. As you (or your bartender) pour, the cup should be held at a 45-degree angle, so the beer runs down the side. This keeps excess air out, says Lili Flores, a bartender at the Thirsty Scholar.

THE BREAK After the initial pour, let the beer settle for one to three minutes, or “until it goes black,” says Tony Crawford, who tends bar at J. J. Foley’s in the South End. In other words, wait until the lighter-colored froth is done “falling” to the bottom of the glass.

THE SECOND POUR Hold the glass upright so the beer winds up directly in the middle. On this pour, start the flow by pushing the tap away from you.  

THE FINISHING TOUCH The ideal head, or layer of foam atop the beer, is about a quarter of an inch thick. Be sure to stop and admire the creamy, appealing detail. Okay, now you can drink it.

  • Justin

    Would love any help identifying establishments that serve the perfect pint in Boston. http://www.perfectpints.com

  • Jeremy

    Why is that? It seems to be brewed to a different recipe to Guinness in the UK – is that possible?