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The discussion about achieving the perfect Guinness bubbles resurfaces as a bartender claims that it requires little skill.

The discussion about achieving the perfect Guinness bubbles resurfaces as a bartender claims that it requires little skill.

The saying “good things come to those who wait” has been associated with Guinness for a long time. This is because their intricate two-part pouring process is crucial in creating the perfect foam and taste, as well as the iconic dome commonly seen on a proper pint of Guinness.

However, a bartender from Ireland has caused controversy among Guinness enthusiasts by claiming that there is no such thing as a perfect pour and that pulling the beer lever requires little skill.

According to Nate Brown, the proprietor of Paloma Café, Soda & Friends and Nebula cocktail bars in London, the practice of pouring Guinness in two steps was not originally for the sake of the beer itself. Instead, it was a strategy to expedite service during peak hours, as the brand has a history of clever marketing tactics.

However, researchers suggest that there could be advantages to allowing the bubbles to settle before adding more liquid to the glass.

According to his laboratory studies, Dr. Tomoaki Watamura from the University of Tokyo suggests that pints of Guinness could potentially be improved by topping them up more than twice in order to achieve the desired liquid-foam ratio. He claims that due to the complex nature of bubble dynamics, it is more effective to pour multiple times rather than trying to control it with skill alone.

According to Professor Charles Spence, an experimental psychologist from the University of Oxford, the intricate process of pouring a pint of Guinness may contribute to a more enjoyable drinking experience, even if individuals cannot discern a difference in a blind taste test. He also suggests that the difficulty or delay in obtaining something can also increase its perceived value in an experience.

A two-part poured pint of Guinness.View image in fullscreen

Brown even recognized the significance of observing the “sacred dance” of white micro-bubbles gently falling and cascading into the darkness.

Pour Guinness stout into a pint glass at a 45-degree angle until it is three-quarters full. Let the bubbles flow for exactly 1 minute and 32.5 seconds before topping off the pint by pushing the tap handle forward, which controls the flow.

In the late 1950s, Guinness started adding nitrogen to their beer. Previously, bartenders would fill a glass mostly with flat Guinness and then add frothier stout from a pressurized cask. The use of nitrogen, which creates smaller bubbles compared to carbon dioxide, made the process easier.

However, smaller bubbles tend to rise at a slower pace and are more influenced by the movement of liquid in a pint glass compared to larger bubbles. Therefore, they require more time to merge and form a denser and uniform foam on top.

“The break not only provides additional time for the bubbles to complete this process, but also allows the person pulling the bar to evaluate the size of the head for the next step. If the bar is not too crowded, it also gives the puller an opportunity to shape a shamrock into the head during the second part,” stated Dr. Andrew Alexander, a chemical physics professor at the University of Edinburgh. “If one approaches it too hastily, the resulting head will be too dense, misshapen, and overflowing. This is not desirable.”

The announcement sparked a variety of responses at the Toucan in the heart of London. Kai, a bartender at the Soho establishment, expressed disbelief at the requirement of two separate pours. Meanwhile, John, a supervisor at the pub, believed that the “two-pour” was likely a strategic move for advertising purposes, but also acknowledged that it was the most effective method for achieving a desirable foam on a pint or stout.

Although the staff was hesitant, the customers at the pub were undoubtedly impressed. Claire, who was enjoying a pint with her husband, stated, “It compares favorably to the authentic Guinness we had in Dublin.” She also mentioned that she sees herself as a Guinness expert, as her family is from Ireland.

Kai and John working behind the bar at the Toucan, one of London's most famous Guinness pubs.

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According to Alexander, the way a drink is poured can impact its taste. This is especially evident in beverages like champagne, where the bubbles can affect both the flavor and sensation on the tongue.

I believe that a pint of Guinness with a compact and evenly distributed head, and small bubbles of consistent size, would provide a more enjoyable taste and texture.

Mathematician Professor William Lee from the University of Huddersfield, who has researched the behavior of Guinness bubbles, concurs that there could be valid scientific justifications for the two-step pour.

Lee explained that achieving the perfect head on a pint requires patience as all the bubbles need to settle before finishing the drink. This process takes longer with Guinness due to its smaller bubbles and the way they move in the glass.

While it may be considered clever marketing, the saying “good things come to those who wait” holds more truth than ever.

Source: theguardian.com