Dissecting Guiness 3

In honor of both St. Patty’s day and my Irish themed “Drink With The Wench,” I’ve decided to unravel the mystery behind Ireland’s most infamous beer — GUINNESS.


Guinness is a dry Irish style stout. It was created by Arthur Guinness at his St. James’s Gate Brewery in Dublin, Ireland. The recipe for Guinness was inspired by a porter style that originated in London in the early 18th century.

As with most beers, Guinness stout is made from water, barley malt, hops and brewer’s yeast. Unique to the recipe is flaked and roasted barley, which is left unfermented — giving Guinness its dark color and characteristic taste. Although Guinness may appear to be black, it is officially a very dark shade of ruby.


Another characteristic that makes Guinness so distinctive is its combination of both carbon dioxide and nitrogen. Nitrogen is less soluble than carbon dioxide, which allows the beer to be put under high pressure without making it fizzy. The perceived smoothness of draught Guinness is due to its low level of carbon dioxide and the creaminess of the head caused by the very fine bubbles that arise from the use of nitrogen.

A Guinness a day keeps the doctor away. Medical studies claim that Guinness can be beneficial to the heart. Researchers found that antioxidant compounds in Guinness, similar to those found in certain fruits and vegetables, are responsible for health benefits because they slow down the deposit of harmful cholesterol on the artery walls.


There is a popular tourist attraction for Guinness at St. James’s Gate Brewery in Dublin, called the Guinness Storehouse, where a self-guided tour of the attraction starts with an overview of the ingredients used to make Guinness followed by a step-by-step description of how Guinness is made. After this a small amount of Guinness is provided to follow with a video of how Guinness is regularly tested by a panel of tasters and the visitor is shown how to properly taste Guinness. The tour finishes with a free pint of Guinness at the top of the building in the Gravity Bar, where the pint may be enjoyed with a 360-degree view of Dublin. A bar and a restaurant are available to visitors during the tour and a full selection of Guinness merchandise is available to purchase.


Here is a list of “cocktails” that contain Guinness:

  • Black and Tan or Half and Half —a combination of stout and pale or amber ale, traditionally Guinness and Bass. Sometimes served with a pale lager such as Harp.
  • Black Velvet—Guinness and champagne in equal quantities.
  • Poor Man’s Black Velvet—Guinness and hard cider in equal quantities. Also known as a Crown Float, Cider and Black or a Guinness Snakebite.
  • Guinness and Black—A pint of Guinness with a dash of blackcurrant cordial.
  • Irish car bomb—A half-and-half shot of Irish cream and Irish whiskey is dropped into a half-full pint glass of Guinness.
  • Black Russian—1 shot of Tia Maria, 1 shot of vodka in a half pint glass topped up with coke. In Ireland served with a Guinness top.
  • Guinness Shandy—a combination of Guinness and carbonated lemonade (or lemon-lime soda or flavored drink, such as Sprite or Sierra Mist), has become moderately popular in America during St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.

Hopefully we can enjoy some of these interesting drinks tomorrow evening at “Drink With The Wench” — Irish Style at Brazenhead Irish Pub!

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3 thoughts on “Dissecting Guiness

  • Bob O'Shaughnessy

    For those of us who prefer the Irish Harp over the English Bass, and have long-held feelings about the name of the Guinness/Bass combination, Guinness and Harp is called a Half and Half.

    With both, the heavier beer is poured first and the Guinness is drizzled over a spoon to float on top and create a defined line between the beers.

    They should never mix. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sent back a “Brown”

  • anamcara

    Depending on your take of The Troubles, the difference between a Half and Half and a Black and Tan is extremely important – they really are not interchangeable.

    No self-respecting Republican (i.e. those living in the non-occupied portion of Ireland) would ever drink a Black and Tan. (Google “The Black and Tans” and you’ll know why). There are many rebel songs that deal with Republican sentiment on the Black and Tans.

    Have a great time and Slainte!