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Our Quest for the Best Guinness in Westport
By Eileen Hart and Benedicte Berg
With St. Patty’s Day fast approaching, two Guinness-loving ladies began to wonder: which establishment in Westport pours the best tasting pint of Guinness?
Eileen Hart (l) and Benedicte Berg seek the best Westport Guinness. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photoWe are busy ladies, so heaven forbid we waste our precious free time with bad beer! A quest was born.
This quest lasted several weeks, during which time we not only ferreted out the 10 locations that serve Guinness, but also, purely in the interest of scientific exploration and objectivity, visited each establishment twice.
As we slugged through pint after pint (tough work, but we’re tough broads), we fell to chatting with a number of locals about our quest. We came across a number of misconceptions, or myths, about Guinness. These myths simply CANNOT be allowed to persist, we feel.
Myth 1: Guinness is fattening
Reality: No more than any other beer (at 125 calories per 12 ounces, Guinness is less than most regular beers, including Bud, Miller MDG, and Michelob). So lay off the Oreos (160 cal per oz) and start enjoying a pint every night!
Myth 2: Guinness is bitter
Reality: It is nowhere near as bitter as a stay-at-home mom who has three sick kids home over school vacation. Actually, bitterness for Guinness seems to be inversely correlated with temperature: the colder the beer (preferably under 45 degrees), the less bitter the taste, and the richer and rounder the mouth-feel.
However, a good pour will minimize any bitterness and makes temperature a much less important variable.
Myth 3: Every Guinness is the same
Reality: Every place serves it a little differently. Aside from temperature and type of glass used, the way the beer is poured varies dramatically from place to place. Some bartenders don’t know that the Guinness tap goes both ways (like some more colorful people we know).
If you know people who believe in one or several of these myths, please disabuse them of the notion immediately.
Our tireless research also uncovered the right way to pour a pint and the right way to drink it. Read on for enlightenment:
Pouring the perfect pint: Use a 20-oz. Guinness glass, hold it at a 45-degree angle under the tap without the spout touching the glass. Pour three-quarters of the glass, let it sit for two minutes while it settles, then top it off by pushing the tap away from you (toward the customer) so that less gas is released with the head, creating a domed effect. [From “In Pursuit of the Perfect Pint”, by Heather John, Bon Appetit Magazine, March 2008, p. 80-82]
Drinking the perfect pint: Drink “under the head” to get the right combination of stout and head. So, raise your pint, look straight ahead (never look down into the pint), and take a hearty gulp. If this is done correctly, you will be rewarded with a lovely Guinness mustache. [From “In Pursuit of the Perfect Pint”, by Heather John, Bon Appetit Magazine, March 2008, p. 80-82]
Moreover, an authentic Guinness glass (a bulbous beauty) promotes head development, which is important in stout as well as for babies. The head, it turns out, can make or break a pint. It must be thick and creamy and should hold a peak in response to a pinky’s advances.
Armed with the above knowledge, and our trusty thermometer, we set off on our quest. We tasted pints of Guinness at The Black Duck, Bogey’s, The Dressing Room, Dunville’s, Little Kitchen, The Mansion Clam House, River House Tavern, Splash, Tavern on Main, and Viva Zapata.
In evaluating each pint, we considered the following criteria; temperature, pouring technique, type of glass, quality of head, and, most importantly, the overall flavor. We scored each pint on a scale of one (undrinkable) to 10 (perfect).
We are pleased to report that every place we visited in Westport served good pints of Guinness. Two places, however, stand out for the best pints: Viva Zapata and Tavern on Main. Both poured lovely pints, with rich heads, and they poured them well.
We rated them both between eight and nine. Although we enjoyed our pints at the other establishments, a quest is a quest, and these are the results.
“Guinness, it’s not just for breakfast anymore.”
We would like to acknowledge some fellow researchers who accompanied us on parts of our quest; you know who you are.
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