Sometimes travel broadens your horizons. Sometimes it shatters your illusions.
I met a very nice Dubliner tonight. We got to chatting in the pub. He was travelling rural Ireland seeking family roots and we had rested for the night in a picturesque little town just recovering from a major golf tournament. The kegs stacked outside of each of the town’s pubs were evidence as to why this night was quiet in the waterholes… the locals needed time to recover.
The Husband, this nice Dubliner and I were brought together through a love of good Irish beer and a love of World Cup Football. Even a town recovering from a three day spree has to come out to see Spain take on Germany in the semi-finals.
I liked this man right away. He was friendly and quick with a good story. I like his even more when I learned he’d worked for Guinness for 40 years.
I am now in the land of Guinness, something that played no small part in the choice of our destination. Unfortunately, with my new Guinness friend John, I have made a disturbing revelation. Guinness here is served cold. This is a rude awakening for me. After seeking solace in the bottom of my pint I admit to my belief that it is the weak beer pallet of North Americans that has led them to serve it cold on my side of the pond. According to John, even Guinness has been serving it that way for 30 years.
I suppose I understand it on a purely commercial level. The colder the beer, the less taste and the quicker it goes down. That means more profit.
Still, I’m disappointed. My belief in the superiority of a warm Guinness comes from my dad… or my Da, as I am tempted to call him here on the Emerald Isle. He was horrified when Labatt began producing Guinness in Canada and refused to buy the locally produced bottles (which I am happy to report are no longer available in my local liquor store). Instead, he always opted for the imported cans and their superior taste.
My subsequent trip to the Guinness storehouse (at big like Nirvana, I must say) taught me the ideal temperature (according to Guinness) is 6 degrees Celsius. There I learned to pull my own ‘perfect pint’ at the Guinness brewery (I have been mentally criticizing every bartender since). Did you know draft Guinness is poured in two stages and it takes 119.5 seconds to pour a proper pint?
My new Guinness education means, I suppose, that I will have to give up my seemingly superior illusions. I guess fathers really don’t know everything (although my mother kindly points out my Dad did start drinking Guinness more than 30 years ago, before Guinness promoted a chilled pint). Guinness tells me the ‘prefect pint’ should be 6 degrees, so I’ll drink it cold without complaint… at least at the bar.
At home, I’ll drink it the way I like it… at room temperature. I’ll pour the pint the way my new Guinness friend Mike taught me, but I’ll take the beer from the cupboard, not the fridge. I’ll toast my dad and smile. Fathers may not know everything but mine taught me the value of taste and tradition… and at home I’ll raise a pint to tradition every time.