How to Spot a Bad Pint of Guinness: 7 Signs It Ain’t Good

A newcomer to the Black Stuff and want some guidance? Then check out our piece on how to spot a bad pint of Guinness.

Guinness is a staple in Ireland. Packed with character and woven into the tapestry of our community and history, Guinness is almost a cornerstone of Irish life.

Regardless of age, gender or sexuality, it is popular among all. It is affordable and served everywhere, and almost a meal in a glass (as it is so filling).

So, what’s not to love about the stout which has defined the Irish nation? Nothing!

Be aware though, pouring a good pint of Guinness is an art form and a tough one at that. Here are our top tips on how to spot a bad pint of the “Black Stuff” (Guinness) when you’re out and about.

IB4UD’s top 5 facts you didn’t know about Guinness

  • The Guinness World Records, known for documenting extraordinary achievements and records, was actually created by the managing director of the Guinness Brewery, Sir Hugh Beaver.
  • The Guinness Brewery in Dublin has an exceptionally long lease. In 1759, Arthur Guinness signed a 9,000-year lease for the brewery’s location at St. James’s Gate.
  • The iconic harp symbol seen on Guinness products is actually a mirror image of the official Irish harp, which is a national symbol of Ireland and a traditional Celtic symbol.
  • Guinness was the first brewery to introduce nitrogen into its beers, creating a distinctive cascading effect and creamy head when pouring a pint.
  • While the Guinness Draught is the most well-known variant, there is a version with a higher alcohol content, brewed specifically for export markets, especially in tropical climates, called Guinness Foreign Extra Stout.

7. If no one is drinking it

One sure fire way to know if there’s something “off” with the Guinness is if there is no one drinking it.

This can be hard to find if you’re in Dublin, as there’s some great places to drink Guinness in the capital.

Odds are, a good 50% (if not more) of patrons will be drinking Guinness in any pub across the Emerald Isle, so, if you can’t spot a steady stream of locals with a cold pint of the “Black Stuff”, something’s up!

On a more extreme note, if you so happen to end up in a pub or bar which doesn’t even have a Guinness tap (to pour pints), then something is truly off-base. Our tip: get out of there.

If Guinness is sold by the bottle in any Irish drinking establishment, that place has serious issues.

READ ALSO: Where to get your Guinness fix in Ireland: 5 amazing spots

6. If it has a very bitter taste 

Guinness should have a very balanced, aromatic taste. It should dance between a rich milky and dark, roasted taste (similar to coffee) and also offer fantastic wheat-stout aromas.

If you take your first sip and are confronted with a pint that is bitter, RUN! This is a serious offence and a sure fire way for a pub or bar to lose serious Guinness-respect from its patrons.


5. If it is thin and watery

Guinness is a rich and smooth drink. The ideal pint should be poured with precision, adhering to a two-step process, which we will we discuss later in #2.

One thing we will say, however, is that the end product should result in a creamy, almost-dense beverage.

If your pint could in any way be described as thin and/or watery, you’ve got a bad one. Should bartenders follow this two-step system with accuracy, you’ve got nothing to worry about, but should it be on the bad-side, find a Guinness alternative or finish up and head on over to the next watering hole.

READ ALSO: 6 signs that a pub serves the best Guinness in town

4. If it does not have a creamy head

A creamy head on top of a pint of Guinness is almost a calling card. If you’re unlucky enough to get pour without a 3/4 inch – 1-inch “head” of creaminess, you’re in trouble.

Not only will this throw off the entire balance, flavour and texture of the drink, but you won’t end up with that charming “Guinness moustache” we all know and love. It’s similar to the “got milk?” 90s advertisement campaign, but better. 

READ ALSO: The history of Guinness: Ireland’s beloved iconic beverage

3. If it is not poured correctly

Pouring the Perfect Guinness is an art form developed and mastered over generations.

Firstly, start by selecting a clean, dry (and most-likely branded Guinness) glass.

Then hold the glass at a 45-degree angle and start pouring the Guinness until the glass is 3/4 full.

Leave the glass to sit for about 60 seconds and then “top up” the Guinness until the glass is full.

By pouring Guinness as per this method, you allow all the flavours and aromas to fully mature, whilst allowing for the perfect creamy head to form on top.

If you spot a sneaky bartender taking a shortcut and skipping the two-step process or not letting the stout settle between pours, you’re likely to experience the unfavourable qualities outlined in pretty much every single other point on this list.

SEE MORE: If you are dating an Irish girl, they will be able to tell the good from the bad, one of ten reasons why dating an Irish girl is a great idea!

2. If it doesn’t leave a white residue

When drinking a well-poured glass of Guinness, a white creamy residue should coat the glass as it is emptied. If you end up with a clear glass, with no Guinness residue, this is sure to be a textbook “bad Guinness”.

Also to note: to end up with a glass of Guinness which is perfectly and completely coated in white creamy residue when once finished is potentially one of the most satisfying experiences to be had in all of Ireland.

1.When the glass is empty

Your glass is empty? Now that’s a bad Guinness. Get yourself another!

WATCH: Scottish YouTuber shows 5 ways NOT to drink Guinness (WATCH)

Your questions answered about how to pour a pint of Guinness

If you still have questions about Guinness, we’ve got you covered! Below, we’ve compiled some of our readers’ most frequently asked questions about Ireland’s famous stout.

What is the perfect pint of Guinness?

Guinness should be rich and smooth with a very balanced, aromatic taste, a creamy head, and should leave a white residue on the glass as the glass empties.

How quickly should you drink a pint of Guinness?

You must let a pint of Guinness settle before drinking it. Wait to enjoy your Guinness until there is a distinct separation between the velvety, frothy foam and the rich, ebony-coloured.

Why do you order Guinness first?

Ensure you order your Guinness first to allow time for the Guinness to settle while the bartender makes other drinks.

What is the drinking age in Ireland?

The drinking age in Ireland is 18. Learn more in our article on the Drinking age in Ireland: the law, fun facts, and more info.

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