The first time I met Guinness Beer Specialist Domhnall Marnell we were in the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin and he was showing myself and a handful of others how to pour the perfect pint of Guinness Draft. As it turns out, pouring the beer properly isn’t quite as easy as pouring most other beers, and the proper “two-minute pour” takes a little bit of effort to master (the “perfect” pour technically only takes takes 119.53 seconds).
Marnell spends his days teaching visitors to Guinness about the brand, and educating people like me and you about the brewery, its history, and more importantly, its beers. He’s celebrating this St. Patrick’s Day in the United States, and took a few minutes to chat with me earlier this week about the holiday, Guinness, and what the scene is probably like today in Dublin.
“If I could get one message out about Guinness, it would be that there’s more to it than the dark pint with the creamy white head,” says Marnell. “Whether it’s in Ireland, whether it’s abroad, there seems to be a lot of people who are under the impression there’s only one style on Guinness. Obviously if you go to a pub and order a Guinness you’re going to get a Guinness Draft 99 times out of 100 if it’s in Ireland, the UK, or the US. That’s kind of a newer beer to our range. It’s something we’ve only been making since 1959. We go back 200 years before that.”
While Guinness Draft is certainly the brewery’s most popular beer (and the one consumed the most on St. Patrick’s Day), the brand actually makes a ton more.
“We have more beers in our range now than we’ve ever had at one time before,” says Marnell. In addition to brews we’ve seen on store shelves already, the Guinness lineup now includes a Nitro IPA that was released late last year, and now two new beers: Dublin Porter and West Indies Porter. Those two brews are made through the company’s ‘Brewer’s Project” and are vintage Guinness beers that have been made using the original recipes from 1801 and 1796, with labels inspired by vintage labels. You can try both now in a special-release 18 pack available at select Costco, Sam’s, BJ’s, and Total Wine & More locations.
I had a chance to try both while traveling in Ireland. The Dublin Porter in particular is a sessionable porter that quickly became a go-to when visiting Irish pubs.
When I asked Marnell how he felt about celebrating Patrick’s Day in New York rather than Ireland this year, he said he was interested in seeing how we handle the holiday here in the states. He’s heard we have quite a celebration, although it won’t likely be anything compared to the scene in Dublin.
“If you ask anybody, the first two things that come to mind when they think of Ireland are probably St. Patrick’s Day and Guinness,” he says. “Guinness Storehouse on St. Patrick’s Day is a magical place. That’s probably the best way to describe it. It should be on everyone’s bucket list whether you’re already a Guinness drinker or not.”
The brewery expects an astounding 33,000 people to visit during a five-day festival for the holiday. In addition to tons of beer, the brewery will offer things like food pairings and live entertainment for visitors. They hire seasonal staff for the holiday, making it the most highly-staffed time at the brewery of the year.
“The atmosphere is electric,” says Marnell. “I think everyone wants to be just a little bit Irish on St. Patrick’s Day.”
Speaking of, when you’re celebrating this year (and maybe drinking a Guinness), he has a job for you: tweet a picture of your moustache.
“When you have the first perfect mouthful of a Guinness Draft of even a Guinness Nitro IPA, because of that nitrogen residue you’re going to be left with a white mustache. We now have some footage of me actually, on our website showing you how to get the perfect Guinness mustache,” he says. Guinness is encouraging people to share pictures of that stache with the hashtag #GuinnessTache.
Need a little explainer on how to make it happen? Here’s Marnell in the flesh to give you the rundown on how to get one and show you how to do that perfect pour he showed me in Dublin.
Speaking of rundowns, click through to the next page for 15 fun facts about the brewery you might not know. Read up and dazzle your friends while you’re working on your own #GuinnessTache later tonight.
15 Fun Facts About Guinness
1) 13 million glasses of Guinness are sold around the world on St Patrick’s Day.
2) Guinness is sold in 150 countries around the world.
3) Pouring a glass or pint of Guinness is a skill. The “perfect pour” takes 119.53 seconds.
4) Guinness should be served at exactly 42.8F/ 6C
5) Although Guinness may appear to be black, it is actually a very dark shade of ruby. It’s the roasted barley that gives Guinness its color.
7) There is a 9,000 year lease on the Guinness brewery in St James’s Gate, Dublin. It was signed on 31st December in 1759.
8) 2,304,000 pints of Guinness can be fermented in one brewing at the St James’s Gate brewery in Dublin.
9) 100,000 tonnes of Irish grown barley is used at St James’s Gate – The barley provides the basic raw ingredient for fermentation, contributing to the balanced flavour and uniqueness of Guinness.
10) The eight million litres of water flow into the Guinness brewery every day. The purity of brewing water is vital to the quality of Guinness.
11) Over 30% of all Guinness is sold in Africa. Guinness consumed in Africa is called Foreign Extra Stout. It’s essentially the same beer that Guinness began exporting to the far reaches of the British Empire in the early 19th century.
12) In WW2, Guinness promised every soldier that they would have a bottle for Christmas Day.
13) Guinness brews over 20 beer variants and is constantly trying out different recipes, reinterpreting old ones and collaborating on new ones, such as Dublin Porter and West Indies Porter and Guinness African Special for the African market, Guinness Nitro IPA for the US market, Hop House 13 for the Irish market.
14) The trademarked Guinness Harp always appear with its straight edge to the left. This is the opposite way to the symbol of the Republic of Ireland.
15) As well as being an ingredient in Steak and Guinness Pie, other Guinness-based foods include Guinness Marmite and Guinness Brown Sauce.