You're Doing It Wrong: Guinness

Irish-born Bostonian Kieran McWilliam still remembers his very first Guinness at Reddy's in Carlow - his preferred stomping ground on the old sod. Clearly, it made an impact: for more than 20 years, McWilliam has been behind the bar at Brighton's Irish Village, pulling perfect pints of the lauded stout. With St. Patrick's Day right around the corner and Boston on the brink of transforming into a shamrock-sprinkled Guinness wonderland, we tapped McWilliam for tips on getting the most out of our swigging.

On pouring: "The effort that goes into pouring the perfect pint, and the satisfaction that comes after a customer takes a swig and says, ‘That's a great pint - well done, lad,' makes my day," says McWilliam. He recommends using a 20-ounce tulip glass for the optimum pint. Hold the glass at a 45-degree angle, fill it three-fourths of the way, and let it settle for a few minutes; then top off and serve. Pouring the pint straight and serving it immediately doesn't allow the beer to achieve the creaminess you're looking for.

On pairing: Pair your pint with oysters on the half shell - McWilliam's personal favorite - or any traditional Irish dish, like beef stew, fish and chips, or shepherd's pie.

On what you should be looking for: Right from the get-go, you should be tasting toasty barley notes, with a soft note of hops. Keep an eye out when you put your glass down - when you see the cream or head sticking to the glass, your bartender knows what he's doing.  

On Guinness tasting better overseas: "Guinness is the most popular, iconic drink in Ireland," McWilliam says. "The damp or cool weather, friendliness of Irish folks, and traditional music provide a festive atmosphere that make a pint taste even better. It may be a placebo effect, but we're lucky enough in the US to have great Irish pubs that create an authentic Irish vibe to go along with a perfect pint."

On the best Guinness mixed drink: McWilliam goes in for the Black Velvet (Guinness and cider), the Blacksmith (Guinness and Smithwick's), or the Black and Blue (Guinness and blueberry ale).          

The Irish Village :: 224 Market St, Brighton :: 617.787.5427 or

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