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Wednesday, April 17, 2024
The art of the Irish Harp’s ‘perfect pint’
The proper final presentation of a Guinness includes a Guinness coaster and the clover stem facing the customer, says head bartender Brad Norris. JULIA SACCO

For many, a pint of Guinness is more than just a beer — it’s an experience.

From its origins in 1759 Dublin, Guinness is now brewed in almost 50 countries and available in more than 120, making it one of the most popular and cult-followed alcoholic brands in the world.

At the Irish Harp Pub in Niagara-on-the-Lake, countless pints go out every single day, all poured with the same technique to present the perfect Guinness to the many customers who pass through.

Brad Norris, head brewer at the Irish Harp, has been pouring pints there for 11 years and after serving Guinness at other pubs and bars, says it comes down to the love and care that the pub puts into the beer.

“There’s more than just the pour that goes into it,” Norris told The Lake Report.

Because the pub goes through so much of it, the kegs are consistently being rotated, he said.

This, combined with a great relationship with Guinness as a brand, means representatives are also coming to routinely clean the lines about every four weeks.

“Without us even having to ask, they have us on an automatic maintenance schedule,” he said.

The perfect pour is also a testament to the Harp’s owner, Jovi Jokie, and the hard work and dedication she puts into making it a great place to work, Norris added.

Depending on the time of year, five to seven people are able to pour a Guinness.

Norris walked The Lake Report through the entire process.

“In terms of starting, it should be a Guinness pint glass because they manufacture their glasses a certain way. It shouldn’t be wet, it shouldn’t be pre-rinsed, it should be a clean, dry, room-temperature glass,” he said.

The Guinness is then poured at a 45-degree angle with the tap open forward all the way.

The liquid should hit off the glass, just below the rim so that it gently cascades into the glass, Norris said.

“You fill it about three-quarters and at that point you turn it back to upright and let it do its resting, which right from Guinness now is a standard 119.5 seconds,” he continued.

According to the Guinness company, Norris said, at 119.5 seconds, all the necessary reactions have taken place and you are able to finish off the beer.

When the pour is finished, there should be a nice foam “just proud of the rim of the glass,” which most places achieve by pushing the tap handle forward for the final pour.

“What we do is, after the 119.5 seconds, we then draw the three-leaf clover right on top of it,” Norris said. 

“When we’ve poured it, it should be that when we face it down with the Guinness coaster in front of the guest, the Guinness logo with the clover stem should be facing the customer,” he added.

The clover on top, which Norris added is not necessary for the “perfect pint” but adds a nice touch, is something that takes the average bartender more than 100 pours to perfect at the Harp.

Of the 23 beers on tap, Norris favours pouring a Guinness, for the art of it and the process. 

“People who like Guinness do appreciate when you pour it right and I can always tell who those people are.”


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