Saturday, March 2, 2013

Oh my Goodness! Guinness!

Stout Beer . . . thick and rich and YUMMERS!!  Stouts are not my favorite style of beer but I enjoy a pint on occasion.  Much like a good wine . . . I can appreciate the complexity and flavors that make up a truly good stout.

Stout means “strong”  . . . traditionally stout was the generic term for the strongest or stoutest beers produced by a brewery.  There are many different varieties of stouts. 

Imperial stout, or Russian imperial stout, is a strong dark beer that is high in alcohol.   

Milk stout (sweet stout or cream stout) is a beer containing sugars extracted from milk.

Oatmeal stout is brewed with oats which create a smoother, bitterer beer.

Chocolate stout uses darker malts that add a notable chocolate flavor. 

Coffee stout utilize dark roasted malts that add coffee flavor to the beer.

Oyster stout  are actually brewed with oysters making a full bodied beer. . . fear not, most of the oyster flavor boils out.  

Irish stout or dry stout, dark with hints of coffee - think Guinness.

Arthur Guinness - Mr. Awesomeness himself!

Arthur Guinness, AKA the lord god king of stouts, inherited £100 in 1759. That equates to about $2,000 in US dollars today.  He took his windfall and established a brewery near Dublin.   He signed a 9,000 year lease on the property by the River Liffe, which had been vacant for 10 years, for a sum of 45 pounds a year. 

Shortly after the long-term lease went into effect, the Dublin City Corporation claimed that Guinness was drawing more free water from the River Liffe than was permitted in his lease. 

The city sent workers to shut off the supply. They were intercepted by an enraged Arthur who grabbed a pickaxe from one off the workers and stated ‘with very much improper language’ that they should cease and desist and by saying that ‘if they filled up the watercourse from end to end, he would open it up again’.”

The fight over the city’s claim dragged out in court for 20 years, all the while Guinness was still brewing his malty nectar.  When the dispute was finally settled, Arthur agreed to sign an 8,795-year lease that required him to pay £10 a year for the use of city water.

Guinness is made of barley, water, malt, hops, yeast, and isinglass finings.  Isinglass is a transparent, almost pure gelatin prepared from the air bladder of the sturgeon and certain other fishes and used as an adhesive and a clarifying agent. Blech!

A portion of the barley is roasted which gives the beer it’s dark rich color . . . not black but a very dark ruby.  A mixture of Aligal or beer gas (75% nitrogen and 25% carbon dioxide) is added to the beer which helps to create the lush, thick foam that tops off a Guinness when it is poured correctly.

Pouring a perfect pint is practically an art form.  Using the "double pour" technique, a twenty-ounce tulip pint glass should be held at a precise 45-degree angle under the tap. The glass is then filled three-quarters full with Guinness that is chilled to an ideal 42.8F.  The beer is left to settle, once it's fully settled the glass is topped off. A “perfect pour” should take exactly 199.50 seconds.

When you have your perfectly poured pint in front of you, sit back and admire the Guinness cascade.   If you’re familiar with Guinness you know of what I speak . . . how the gas bubbles appear to travel downwards in the pint glass.  It’s hypnotizing. 

The effect is attributed to drag; bubbles that touch the walls of a glass are slowed in their travel upwards. Bubbles in the center of the glass are, however, free to rise to the surface, and thus form a rising column of bubbles. The rising bubbles create a current by the entrainment of the surrounding fluid. As beer rises in the center  the beer near the outside of the glass falls. This downward flow pushes the bubbles near the glass towards the bottom. Although the effect occurs in any liquid, it is particularly noticeable in any dark nitrogen stout, as the drink combines dark-colored liquid and light-colored bubbles.

Guinness developed a gadget that is added to their packaged products to replicate the perfect pour from a bottle or can.  This device is called a widget.  It’s basically a small piece of plastic with a tiny hole in it.   

Inside the sealed container, the pressurized beer forces around 1% of the Guinness inside the widget. When the container is opened, the Guinness inside the chamber of the widget is forced out through the small opening as the pressure inside and outside the can or bottle equalizes.  This is what makes the millions of tiny bubbles which rise to form the familiar, creamy head.

If you’re afraid of drinking a dark, dense Guinness because you think its not good for your waistline . . . think again.  The flavorful black-crimson brew contains less alcohol, calories and carbohydrates than the top selling American lager - ahem - Budweiser. 168 calories per pint vs. 198 calories per pint for Bud.

Have Guinness a day!  It's good for you!

No comments: