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How to serve the perfect pint of Guinness

By Nicholas Robinson contact

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Coronavirus, Beer, Guinness

Being the granddaddy of beer, Guinness is held to a high standard by consumers across the UK who will expect their first draught pint of the world-famous stout to be perfect on their return to the pub. But what exactly does that entail?

We’ll get to that in little while, but first it is important to understand the sales power of Guinness in the on-trade, including how sales were performing prior to the coronavirus lockdown.

In the 12 months to 22 February 2020, Guinness in the Great British on-trade had grown volume and value sales by 4.5% and 7.7% respectively year-on-year. Such stellar sales saw the brew become the UK’s only top five beer brand to grow its volume sales for the period.

To put it into the perspective, if all of the additional pints sold were averaged out across Guinness’ 71,108 GB on-trade stockists, it would equate to an additional 127 pints sold per outlet for the period and £507 more in each till based on the average price of a pint at £3.99.

If you’re a London-based operator, then getting the serve right is increasingly important, considering the latest CGA MAT data for the year to 22 February 2020 showed that one in every 10 pints sold in the capital was a Guinness.

And to ensure those sales continue on an upward trajectory once the trade emerges from lockdown, Diageo’s GB quality team, along with its 55 Guinness quality executives, will be out in the on-trade to ensure operators have the right support when it comes to pouring the perfect pint. In fact, the team is so serious about the job that, they have set themselves an ambitious target of visiting no fewer than 50,000 outlets collectively between July and September this year.

Quality control:

Diageo Head of Quality Luke Lloyd says there are five key questions an operator should ask themselves when it comes to the quality of Guinness on their bar. These are:

  • Are you restocked with new kegs of fresh Guinness?
  • Have you checked your cellar cooling and gas systems are fully operational?
  • Do you need support from your main brewer to achieve this outcome?
  • Is the beer line perfectly clean ready to dispense Guinness along with beer clean glassware ready to pour that first pint for your customers?
  • He recommends the 7 C’s for great quality Guinness which should be adhered to along with Covid-19 safety and hygiene measures.

If in doubt on any of the above, please contact Enquiries@diageotrade.co.uk or 0845 751 5101 to arrange a visit from one of our Guinness Quality Executives.

Full guidance, including the seven Cs, can be found below

Additional support from Diageo-owned Guinness’ top level will come in the form of a new programme ensuring the safe retrieval of kegs from UK cellars, an opportunity open to thousands of pubs and bars across the country that are registered stockists of Diageo draught products.

The ‘Keg Destruction Programme’ will see Diageo provide a like-for-like replacement of fresh stock for all unbroached kegs, and the duty on all volumes of broached kegs claimed and passed back to the outlet. Due to health and safety reasons, the kegs must be empty of all liquid before collection to allow social distancing measures to be maintained.

Therefore, it is recommended that outlets dispose of dispensed beer in line with the British Beer and Pub Association’s (BBPA) guidelines. The BBPA’s Destruction of Beer in Cellars to Avoid Environmental Damage outlines the steps operators need to take to ensure the safe and legal disposal​ of such products.

Top line advice includes calling water suppliers to understand how to dispose of the liquid correctly, as well as retaining evidence of the beer’s destruction, which must be kept for six years for auditing purposes.

Following that, all empty kegs will be collected from registered stockists with no minimum or maximum keg requirements. More information can be found at www.mydiageo.com​.

Diageo on-trade director for Great Britain Melissa Wisdom said: “We know the next few months pose uncertainties as the trade looks to safely reopen and we want to help our communities where they need us most.”

She continued: “We are focused on ensuring a consistent and high-quality service and our teams remain available to support our customers throughout this challenging time.”

*All stats and data CGA MAT 22.02.20

Getting Guinness right

The seven Cs, how to get them right and doing so with coronavirus safety and hygiene measures in place:

1) Correct gas:

To ensure a perfect, full-bodied, taste when you serve Guinness, make sure to use quality gas with zero oxygen content. You will also need to ensure the right mix of gas with the correct pressure settings:

Guinness snip
  • Mix: 70% N2 30% CO2
  • Pressure: 37 psi
  • Static: 32 – 40 psi (acceptable range) Dynamic: 30 – 36 psi (acceptable range)

2) Correct temperature:

Temperature is important to serving a great looking, great tasting, pint of Guinness. Make sure you adhere to hygienic storage conditions, controlled storage temperature (10-12°C) and an effective cooling system. Check your dispense temperature regularly to make sure that every pint served is great tasting.

3) Clean lines:

Regular line cleaning is essential for consistent, great tasting Guinness. Make sure to follow the correct process for your line specification for hygienic, yeast free lines.

Guinness recommends:

  • Use a quality beer line with an integral oxygen barrier layer
  • Keep your beer lines cooled from keg to tap
  • Use effective detergents at the right frequency to clean
  • Follow the correct cleaning procedure for your lines

4) Clean glassware:

A great pint of Guinness comes in a clean glass. Dirty glasses and poor glassware management can cause poor taste, bubbles on the inside of the glass and a thick head on the pint.

For great glassware management, Guinness recommends:

  • Clean glassware
  • Properly stored in baskets or plastic gridding
  • Correct remedial action

5) Crafted presentation:

Make sure your pint of Guinness is served perfectly every time

Steps to perfection:

  • A cool, clean branded Guinness glass
  • Hold the glass at 45° to nozzle, pulling handle fully forward
  • Fill to the top of the Harp
  • Leave to settle (119 seconds)
  • Top up pushing handle away to just shy of the rim
  • Never put the nozzle in to the Guinness

6) Counter visibility:

Make sure your Guinness branding is up to date and ensure your Guinness font is illuminated and in a prominent position on the bar. This will help your customers navigate the bar, ensuring they can see that you stock Guinness.

7) Consistent freshness:

Beer tastes best when it’s fresh, so make sure to manage your stockholding well to deliver the best serve.

Guinness recommends:

  • Serve only fresh beer, well within its best before date
  • Adopt a first in, first out approach to keg management in your cellar
  • Ensure adequate through-put per tap per week

Correct pack type/keg size for the volume you serve (both 30L and 50L kegs are available)

Related topics: Beer, Rebuilding the Pub Sector

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