The Guinness Can

from the network, original author unknown
I had the good fortune to be invited to attend a very special beer happening (am I dating myself with that term?) recently by Tom Dahldorf of the California Celebrator. The event was Guinness' unveiling of their new product, Pub Draught Guinness. Now, I can hear the lot of you saying to yourselves "Yeah, yeah, another 'draft beer in a can', big deal". But this one is different. For the most part this product actually does what it is supposed to do! Anyone who has had Guinness Stout on draught and from a bottle knows there is a vast difference between the two brews. The brewery makes no secret of the fact that the recipes are different not only between the kegged version and the bottled, but also between different bottled markets. Now the folks at Guinness have developed a system which dispenses their stout from a can in such a way as to rival a pub tap. They have been working on this for some 20 years and the final method was preceded by over 100 failed attempts. The problem has always been the fact that draught Guinness is (or should be) dispensed with a mixture of Nitrogen and CO2 gasses rather than the conventional CO2 alone. The nitrogen is used because it makes very fine bubbles while it is not absorbed into the brew as the CO2 is, thus it does not "over-carbonate" the beer. Also a special faucet is preferred which, in combination with the gasses, creates that wonderful creamy brown head which lasts to the bottom of the glass. The new can combines the original kegged stout recipe with technology which creates the draught effect to a tee. Dr. Alan Forage, creator of the technology, was on hand to explain the mechanics of the new can. This is the way the system works: The 16.9 ounce can (containing 14.9 ounces of beer) is fitted with a small plastic device (Guinness calls it a "smoothifier") which sits in the bottom of the can. This device has a pocket or cavity which is open to the atmosphere via a pin hole in its top. The can is evacuated of oxygen and filled with beer. Prior to sealing the can, a dose of liquid nitrogen is added to the beer. The can is closed and as the liquid nitrogen warms a pressure is created. The pressure forces about 1% of the beer and nitrogen into the plastic cavity. When the can is opened, the pressure is released and the small amount of beer in the cavity is forced back through the pinhole quite violently. The agitation created by this "geyser" mixes the nitrogen with the beer in such a way as to reproduce the tap handle character. Open up the first empty can you have in order to see what the "smoothifier" looks like. Prior to serving, the beer must be chilled. Guinness suggests a two hour stint in a refrigerator, with a target serving temperature of 45-50 degrees (if opened while warm, the beer gushes with excess force). This is the one area where flavor will be variable since most American refrigerators hold their temperatures closer to 35-40 degrees. We all know the colder the beer the less the flavors are perceptible. Education will be the key here. The entire contents should be emptied into a 16 ounce glass. The head which forms is exactly like that of the draught version. And yes, it does last to the bottom of the glass. How does it taste? In my opinion, this is virtually the same as what you get at a well maintained pub. The texture is right on. The flavor is wonderful. I suspect there may be some slight differences as a result of the volume of the package (14.9 ounces vs. 15.5 gallons) but I didn't notice any. According to Declan Maguire, group marketing director of Guinness Import Company here in the U.S., extensive taste comparisons were made throughout Ireland and England during the development of the product. This includes side-by-side blind tastings with the original version. The stout is 4% alcohol by volume.