Tweed jackets, drizzling rain, shamrocks, shillelaghs, leprechauns. Now is the time when thoughts turn to all things Irish.
That includes, of course, Guinness stout.
Whether you’re in Dublin or Tucson, if you want a great pint of stout, be prepared to wait. The “double pour” is a technique that produces a dark ruby (it’s not black, hold it up to the light) body and a thick, creamy white head on a glass of Guinness.
The company says a pour should take 119.5 seconds. Try that with a typical American megabrew! It would probably go flat before you finished.
Legend holds that Irish beer is served warm, but they seem to have discovered refrigeration on the Emerald Isle, as the company recommends its stout be served at 43 degrees. That’s a bit warmer than you might want your Budweiser, but room temperature it’s not.
The temperature and pour bring out the flavor – a weighty mouth-feel and creamy foam accentuate the bite of roasted barley and smoothness of the traditional recipe.
Dublin’s St. James’s Gate neighborhood, wherein lies the Guinness brewery, is suffused with the aroma of hundreds of years of roasting barley malt. You can’t find that in Tucson, but where can a punter purchase a perfect pint on St. Patrick’s Day?
Great pints can be found around Tucson, but beware a bad one.
A clean, dry glass is essential because, unlike most beers, stout doesn’t contain many hops. Without that bitter herb, the unfortunate flavor of bar cleanser and bleach can utterly ruin a glass. Traces that would go unnoticed in a fresh Sam Adams or Flat Tire can lead to bitter disappointment in a pint of stout.
Old Pueblo publicans who provide a proper pour include Plush, 340 E. Sixth St., and The Shanty, 401 E. Ninth St.
Plush’s Kini Wade takes his time, and serves up a pint that’s brimming with thick foam that lasts until the pint’s gone.
The barkeeps at The Shanty not only know how to pour a pint, they’ll serve up a delicious small glass with a nip of whiskey.
The Auld Dubliner, 800 E. University Blvd., brims with knickknacks and signage imported from the auld country. It offers a menu of Irish fare, including shepherd’s pie and corned beef and cabbage, but sometimes falls short on its pints.
It’s a busy college bar and getting a pint that features a whiff of bleach is a too-common occurrence. To its credit, the staff’s always been happy to pour again, and there’s plenty of Harp lager and Irish whiskey if you’re not in the mood for a heavy stout.
The Tap Room at Hotel Congress, 311 E. Congress St., is a great spot to sip a pint. Feed a couple of quarters into the best jukebox in town and enjoy.
Irish Pub, 9155 E. Tanque Verde Road, doesn’t much live up to its name. It serves Guinness, along with quesadillas and buffalo wings, but putting such items as the Paddy Melt and Tipperary Tuna on the menu don’t go far in reproducing a true Celtic atmosphere.
Got a favorite spot to quaff the black stuff? Who pours the best? Let us know in our online comments.