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How The Popular Stout Beer Guinness Reaches Your Glass

Updated on June 6, 2014

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Globally we consume over 47 billion gallons of beer a year! In Ireland, the local brew is the black beer known as stout, and none is more famous than Guinness. In fact, there is 10 million pint glasses of Guinness consumed each day. But how do they make the perfect tasting stout that we know and love? Perfection is the key.

Like most beer, stout brewing starts with malted barley, but in order to achieve that unique black color, they roast a small percentage of the barley until it has a rich and dark color. After about two and a half hours, they inspect the barely to make sure the color is right and that it has been roasted properly. This step is a critical part to the production of the beer.

After the roasting, the whole brewing process can be managed by one man and a computer. A supervisor will watch for the proper temperature, PH and specific gravity, which all have to be on target for the perfect brew.

Producing The Perfect Beer

Barley is packed with sugars which get extracted by huge mills. The resulting mush is called the grist, which is then mixed with hot water and infused for 90 minutes at 150 degrees Fahrenheit in order to break down the starch in the grain into brewing sugars. Every ounce of sugar has to be extracted. After that, the grain and the liquid get separated. The remaining liquid is called sweet wort.

Without sugar, there is not any alcohol in the beer, so they have to test the liquid for sugar. This is another critical part of the process. Once they are satisfied with the sugar content they can continue on with the process.

The resulting liquid does not taste like beer. So like all beers, Guinness uses the flowers from the hop plant to give it its flavor; however, unlike all beers, Guinness is bittersweet, and in order to achieve this taste they add twice as many hops to the sweet wort. The hops not only improve the taste, but they also act as a natural preservative. Once the hops are added the liquid boils for about 90 minutes.

How Do They Change The Liquid Into a Brew?

The liquid now has its flavor, but it still does not have any alcohol, so the liquid is piped into fermentation vessels. It then meets yeast that was developed from a strain used by the brewery founder two centuries ago. The yeast plays a vital part in determining the flavor of the beer.

This is where the chemistry really comes in. Every six weeks, a microbiologist takes some vials from the yeast reserves. Then they process the content through various stages, and this process results in yeast of thick consistency. This yeast is what is used for the fermentation process. This process allows a tiny vial of the reserves to give enough yeast to brew millions of pints.

Once the yeast and liquid are mixed together, the yeast feeds on the sugar which produces the alcohol. It takes two and a half days, at 75 degrees Fahrenheit, for the yeast to devour all the sugars and convert them into alcohol.

Lastly a secret ingredient is added. What it is or does nobody knows since Guinness is not about to reveal the secret.

Then the brew ages for 4 days and is finally collected. The liquid collected is a flat liquid without the bubbles that are found in the end product. Nitrogen is added to produce small bubbles, which creates the characteristic head on the bear. In the kegging plant, they actually check that the head settles at exactly 20 millimeters deep when poured. Nitrogen also gives Guinness a smoother taste than more bubbly beers made with carbon dioxide.

Every day they produce enough Guinness to fill an Olympic swimming pool. But the end product is not just shipped out without a taste test. Every morning, a lucky panel of brewers meet to sample the latest batch. The panel awards each brew a mark out of 5 and anything below a three is rejected.

So the next time you sit down to drink a pint of Guinness, think about all the work that has gone in to make you the perfect brew. And check the head to make sure it is an appropriate 20 millimeters deep.


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    • Relationshipc profile image

      Kari 5 years ago from Alberta, Canada

      I would have to say that is probably correct Suzie. lol

    • daskittlez69 profile image

      daskittlez69 5 years ago from midwest

      Thanks for the Hub, I love Guinness. One of these days I will make it over there to visit the brewery.

    • Suzie HQ profile image

      Suzanne Ridgeway 5 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Nice article on "the black stuff" which I enjoy a glass of now and again! What is that secret ingredient ??? A pinch of Irish charm and gift of the gab!!