Tradition holds that St. Patrick himself spearheaded converting the pagan Irish countryside to Christianity in the second half of the 5th century. Today, on the day that celebrates the revered saint (and the day which marks when he died, according to tradition), I’d like to convert you from improper beer pouring to perfection in a glass.

Why does it matter, you say? Isn’t beer a beer, no matter how it’s poured? Well, that may be the case if you’re drinking low-quality beer (I won’t name names), but when drinking a fine brew, it can mean a world of difference. When properly poured, the beer produces aromas and flavors that can only be present at the right conditions, and with the agitation of a proper pour.

In this short tutorial, I’ll teach you how to pour beer from a bottle/can/tap, as well as the special technique to employ when pouring a Guinness.

How to Properly Pour Beer from a Bottle/Can/Tap

The process for pouring beer into a pint glass is the same whether you’re doing it from a bottle, a can, or a tap. It’s also the same no matter the style of glass. Keep in mind that the process may vary slightly depending on the carbonation of the beer. India Pale Ales and Belgians will be a bit foamier than stouts or porters, so adjust accordingly to always get that perfect “head” (the foam on top).

1. Hold the Glass at 45 Degrees 

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2. Pour Beer at Midpoint of the Glass

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3. Tilt Glass Upright as You Reach the Halfway Point

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4. Finish Pouring with 1/2-inch to 1 1/2-inch Head beer5

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5. Too Much

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How to Pour Guinness from a Tap

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On any given day, about 5.5 million pints of Guinness are poured around the world. On St. Patrick’s Day, that number balloons to over 13 million pints poured. In fact, it’s estimated that over 1% of the world’s yearly beer consumption happens on this single day. If you’re going to imbibe in honor of St. Patrick, there’s no better way to do it than with a freshly poured Guinness.

Last fall, I had the opportunity to travel to Dublin, Ireland and visit the Guinness brewery to see how the iconic beer is made. It sits at the same location as when it was founded in 1759 when Arthur Guinness signed a 9,000-year lease at only $75 per year. (Guinness has since bought the property, but I had the honor or seeing the original lease in the visitor center.) I’ve done my fair share of brewery tours, but Guinness creates an entire experience for their visitors. It’s part history museum, part award-winning restaurant, and part bartending course (yes, anyone can learn how to pour the perfect pint of Guinness and even get a “certificate”). It’s a great experience if you’re ever in Dublin, and I highly recommend visiting if you get the chance.

While at the brewery, I was able to talk with Guinness Master Brewer himself, Fergal Murray, about how to pour his labor of love. They take their Guinness very seriously over in Ireland, and they have a particular six-step process for pouring the black elixir.

1. The Glass

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2. The Hold

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3. The Pour

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4. The Settle

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5. The Top Off

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6. Enjoy Like a Man

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