Could there be such a thing as red velvet beer? Well yes there certainly could be, but we’re not that big yet, so we’ll settle for the next best thing. One of my favorite beers, and definitely an old stand-by is the perfect Guinness Draught. Now you might be wondering why Guinness as the first foray into the brewing arts by Red Velvet blog? Quite simply, it is because of it’s red… yes deep ruby red color, and it’s velvety smooth taste. I am not an expert on Guinness, but I do know how to expertly enjoy it! For me, it all starts, and many times ends, with the perfect pour. If not done correctly, an improper pour will effect my enjoyment of the beverage, which is unacceptable for the first Guinness of the evening (three or four in I may not mind as much). The first part of the pour is selecting the classic tulip shaped glass (which was actually recently redesigned in 2010). The glass should be held at a 45 degree angle and the draught should be poured to fill as much as possible at this angle or approximately 3/4 full. Next the pint should be set asside until the first pour settles, and the color is uniform. After the appropriate amount of time (after all, good things come to those who wait) the pint should be filled the rest of the way with a second pour. According to the official marketing, the whole process of a perfect pour should take 119.53 seconds. Then it is simply time to enjoy. I like to let the dark roasted barley stout coat my throat as I enjoy the first sip, and it is always fun to wipe away that first Guinness mustache. Not like other stouts, Guinness has a distinct flavor and smoothness, and Marah will be the first to tell you Guinness is not for everyone. While she rarely will have a Guinness here in the US, she will also tell you that (as is true with most things) it is much better when you go straight to the source. All Guinness in the US comes from the St. James Gate Brewery in Dublin, which just recently celebrated their 250th year in a 9000 year lease of the downtown Dublin location. We were lucky enough to visit the emerald isle, and apart from checking into the hotel, the Guinness tour was our first stop (and within walking distance) after the overnight flight. The building where the tour takes place is a phenomenal old storehouse which was used for fermentation until 1988 and is filled with all of the old machines and brewing tools. However, the best part of the tour is the 360 degree view over the city that awaits you at the end of the tour in the Gravity bar as you enjoy a complementary pint. Everytime I have a Guinness I am amazed at how unlike other stouts it really is. I’m not going to say it is the best stout in the world, but it is certainly unique, and I think you have to respect that. It almost seems as if there is some kind of Irish magic in it. Guinness has the amazing power of giving even the gloomiest days a happy ending. I find it’s best enjoyed on a rainy day, no warmer than 50 degrees alongside a nice hot Guinness stew, or shepherds pie (maybe I’ll get Marah to make that for an upcoming post?). For some reason, it is always better if nothing has gone right for you yet on that particular day. At that point, there is nothing better than a Guinness.
Every pint of Guinness seems to have a story and a couple of my personal stories were in Dublin. I’m not sure if it’s because I was tired and cranky after the overnight flight, or because I was pissed off that part of my luggage was stolen, but I will always remember the 1 and 1/2 pints (Marah didn’t finish hers) of Guinness at the Gravity bar as quite possibly the best pints I’ve had. They certainly were the freshest. Although, our last night in Dublin wasn’t too far off either. At the reccomendation of my cousin, we popped in to O’donoghue’s pub for a pint and some live music and were treated to the whole bar spontaneously breaking out in Irish drinking songs as if we were in a movie scene. It was a wonderful last night in Ireland, and Marah and I both are longing to go back. The last thing I will say about Guinness is that it really is good for you. Very similar to a glass of wine, Guinness has been shown in University studies to have the same antioxidant powers as many common fruits and vegatables. So drink up, Guinness is Good for You!