Today, people around the world will drink over 10,000,000 pints of Guinness. Tomorrow, heaven only knows how many pints will be downed in the name of St Patrick.
The man in charge of making all of that incredible brew for the last fifteen years is Fergal Murray. I had the chance to chat with him yesterday. We all know the story of the great brew, but most won’t be aware of its universal consumption. “Guinness has 49 breweries around the world,” he said. “Twenty are in Africa and Nigeria is or biggest market there.”
I asked the question that wrongly nags the Guinness folks. Maybe it’s an urban myth, or maybe it’s a matter of corporate dirty tricks by a competitor. But, I figured, let’s get it out of the way. Is Guinness made differently for different markets? The answer was a yes and no. “Guinness has two main variants,” Fergal explained. “All of the keg beer - the type you get in better pubs around the world - is made in Dublin. In the rest of the world, especially Africa and Asia, it’s not really about going into a pub. They like to use bottles. Nigerians love the Extra Stout, which has been there for 150 years. It’s the same recipe they’ve had forever. And some people might think the African version may be taste a little different, stronger.”
At least Guinness will never make a Lite beer, right? “Well, actually, in Ireland, we make what we call Mid-Strength which is only 2.8% alcohol (regular Guinness is 4.2% alcohol), because we got so many requests from people who wanted a lighter brew they could enjoy during the week. But that’s mostly about the alcohol. As rich as our draft is, it’s only 125 calories, which is less than a lot of supposedly light beers.”
And, for the record, they also make other premium drinks like Smithwicks, Harp and Red Stripe.
We wrapped up the conversation with a question about whether Fergal wished the emphasis on drinking Guinness wasn’t so targeted on St. Patty’s Day. He laughed. “Were going to start off by expanding to the rest of the month,” he said. “We are the official beer of March, not just St. Patrick’s Day, but March Madness and everything else.”
Just for fun, I though readers might like to know how Guinness describes the task of the person pulling your brew.
Pouring the Perfect Pint
1. Clean dry glass - preferably with branded logo and the 20 oz pint
2. Hold glass at 45 degree angle and never allow the spout to touch beer or glass
3. The Pour - pull faucet down and allow beer to fill glass - you will see the surge commence
4. The Settle - allow the nitrogen bubbles to create the theatre and wonderful surge event creating the beautiful creamy head
5 The Top Up - the Beer has settled (distinct gap between dark liquid and head) and the glass is topped up slowly to create a domed effect with the head proud of the glass
6. The Presentation - Give the creation of the perfect pint to the adoring customer