Why Guinness tastes better in Ireland

Until recently, most of the Guinness factories also lined their tanks with isinglass, a clarifying agent made from fish scales. So depending on where your Guinness was made, it may not have been vegan friendly!


Isinglass is made from swim bladders, not scales. It was basically a cheap source of collagen. But yes, it’s definitely not vegan. If you care about that sort of thing, anyways - I’d be more concerned about the health effects of alcohol, myself.


Beamish Stout is best stout tho.


The travel does impact flavor, though. One of the main considerations in designing a product is how it will travel. For instance, the recently popular New England IPA style does not travel well at all. The late hopping adds oils that are not truly a colloid and will precipitate. If you pour out a hazy IPA and the “hazy” part is mostly in the bottom, it has essentially become a different beer and will taste greasy as opposed to the creaminess of a fresh NEIPA. Time has some bearing on this and this is an extreme example, but distribution is notoriously hard on beers and largely due to temperature changes. Some (most?) warehouses aren’t even climate controlled at all. Climate-controlled shipping was the primary feature of Coors beers until pretty recently for this reason (and supposedly the reason you couldn’t get it east of the Mississippi until the 90s).


At a minimum you were at a brewery. So the beer was gonna be as fresh as can be.

Hell even Youngling tends to tastes different in Pennsylvania.

Pretty much. But there is also less packaging and weight involved in shipping tanks of things than complete package. Less damage and loss as well.

Producing thing fully in market skips the whole thing, but Guinness has both a quality control and a marketing interest in keeping some portion of production in Ireland.

It’s hard to tell in western Europe. IIRC they have facilities or contract production in Spain and Eastern Europe. What ends up where is probably down to local regulations and logistics.

There’s not much different in shipping something from one EU nation to another than there is shipping from one US state to another. And even Budweiser only brews in like 10 or 12 US states. They really don’t give a fuck about anything beyond volume and cost.

There are suspicions about US Guinness kegs, but in Europe they should be coming out of Dublin. It’s mostly the package that’s produced elsewhere.

It doesn’t line the tanks. It’s a type of gelatin. Basically you pour it over the top after fermentation. It coagulates capturing particles as it sinks. Then you can decant clear beer off the top.

You can actually do the same thing at home with regular gelatin to clean deepfry oil. Works great.


Does the isinglass roll right down in case there’s a change in the weather?

It is a lot more expensive than regular gelatin. And I think always has been. It was used in brewing because it’s a lot purer than typical gelatin, and tends to be a lot more concentrated. So it sets firmer and clarifies other liquid better.

I think way, way back it was easier to refine and render than cow or pig based gelatin. So it may have been cheaper or the only form available like 3 centuries ago.

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  1. I was always under the impression that most Guinness in the US comes from Jamaica.

  2. Diageo owns every f%&king thing now. Well, almost.

  3. I was not aware of the Protestant origins of Guinness, but most people know of the Jameson vs. Bushmill’s sectarian whisky divide.

  4. Very few stouts beat a Guinness. Murphy’s is equally as good.

Well, it was a grand tour of the country, and we drank a couple Guinness a day at locations from Dublin to Cork to Dingle and everywhere in between. At least, I think we did. Some of the middle parts of the trip are a little fuzzy. :grimacing:

Anyways, it was good everywhere, and now North American Guinness tastes better because it has a strong head of fine memories on top. :grinning:


Had Guinness across Ireland, the UK, and in the US. Guiness at my local irish pub in Quincy, MA (right outside of Boston) tastes just as good as it did on the top floor of the Guiness factory. It taste just as good in Northern Ireland as it does in Connemara.

The quality IMHO has to do with how quickly the turn over is between kegs. If no-one ever orders Guiness it’s quality will go down overtime.

Also if you love Stouts I’d highly recommend visiting the Porter House in Dublin (https://www.yelp.com/biz/the-porterhouse-central-dublin-3) their Oyster Stout is IMHO the best Irish Dry Stout I’ve ever tasted.


Nothing makes me sadder than an American “Irish” pub with a Beamish sign for decor but nothing on tap but Guinness.


There’s minimal availability for Irish brands in the US outside of Guinness and the Diageo brands.

You can get Murphy’s in cans, don’t believe they ship draft here. And there’s a couple of craft brands that send some. Mostly O’haras (not good) and recently Sullivan’s.

Never seen Beamish here. Don’t think it’s imported.

I know I’ve had Murphy’s and Beamish in pint cans in the US, though it’s been more than a few years. I’m not much of a drinker these days, so I don’t bother looking any more.

Pretty sure the Jamesons were Scottish Protestants, the stills which later became old fashioned, were more modern there. Basically if you had money to start an industry chances were…

Anyway, Jameson is owned by Pernod now, Guinness by Diageo, and Bushmills is Mexican (Cuervo).

Now the town’s around the Bushmills distillery make it very clear that my sort aren’t welcome there, but transnational corporations? They’ll take everyone’s money!

ETA when I was a kid we all believed that the Jameson family had done some terrible things in the Congo, like killed a man just to watch him die bad, but I have heard this is also a legend and that someone was killed when he was around somewhere, not John Jameson (the 3rd possibly?) actually murdering someone.

And not a drop of whiskey in the house. Or stout.


There’s actually a patented and packaged “Irish Pub” restaurant template that entrepreneurs can buy to build out their new ‘O’Flannaghan’s Authentic Irish Pub’ on spec - everything down to the signs on the wall and the Guinness on tap…

Secrets Of A Professional Pub Designer


The company was founded by an architect—Mel McNally—who spent a year traveling around to Ireland’s greatest pubs and cataloging how each one created an unmistakable ambience through space and interior details. He then codified his findings, which entrepreneurs anywhere in the world can pay to have resurrected. In 1990, McNally partnered with Guinness, and within five years had taken Irish drinking culture global.

Aspiring pub owners can choose from six templates: There’s the classic Country style, the traditional Celtic style, the historic Brewery style, the flexible Shop style, the more modern Victorian style, and a contemporary gastropub iteration—and customers are free to mix and match. Victorian-style pubs generally use hardwoods such as oak, mahogany, or teak, while Shop-style pubs often use an American pine to give the bar a more distressed look. While operating within each thematic scheme, each pub that the Irish Pub Company designs is entirely based on budget and space restrictions, even if it might feel the same, whether you’re in Argentina, Australia, or Taiwan.


At least where I’ve lived in the US I’ve never seen Guinness on CO2. They usually pour it the way you describe. Sometimes they grumble about it. I think otherwise there’s way too much head. I’ve never been to Ireland to compare.

I remember a US brewer talked about visiting home-brewers in Australia. They had problems mimicking US beers. They finally figured out the difference was the aging from being shipped overseas.

Guinness is Diageo. Diageo came from Guinness merging with Grand Metropolitan, and the Guinness end of it were the instigators.

Quervo was also about 50% owned by Diageo till recently.

The Guinness tap comes from Guinness. They use an almost proprietary keg coupler (Sankey), it’s a variation of a European type Sankey with a very slightly different guage and holes drilled in it. There’s a handful of non-Guinness owned brands that use it too. They also provide a nitro faucet with a non-removable tap handle, or a tower with a non-standard faucet and non-removable handle.

It’s to prevent you switching the tap to another beer.

Most of the time you see a branded tap tower its a freebee from a brand as part of a handshake deal for a draft line.

Nobody but Heineken goes further than Guinness in terms of making it actively hard to switch stuff over though. I’ve had more than one call from an account where a staffer who didn’t know better slapped a Guinness Sankey on the wrong keg. They don’t just not work, they jam on there so bad it takes magic powers to get it off. Typically you have to unscrew the thing from the beer line and send the whole keg back as damaged.

Aint no body need to buy a tap or nitro equipment for Guinness.

It’s less common than it used to be, the quality of the average draft system has improved the last 20 years.

And like I said Guinness will send their personal draft tech by to make the conversion. Not a plumber from their distributor. The Guinness guy.

That said the vast majority of American nitro taps are not running a proper nitrogen system. One where it’s only pushing nitrogen. Or where each regulator can mix co2 and nitrogen so things can be balanced for each beer.

Most simply run Beer Gas through a nitrogen regulator. Beer Gas is a pre-blended co2/nitrogen mix, usually 30/70 for nitro beers. 50/50 and co2 heavier blends are used to push co2 beers over long runs without over carbing them with too much pressure.

It’s more available than pure nitrogen but it is not quite proper as it does force carb the beer with co2 a bit if you’re running high pressure.


I heard at one point there was a shortage of Irish “knickknacks” because they were all bought up to be nailed to the walls of pubs around the world.


In the 80s, the bottled Labatt Guinness was nothing like the draft. (I mean it was an okay stout, but only Guinness-ish.)

I believe it was technically a different product. Until fairly recently (00’s), only Extra Stout and Foreign Stout and their variations were brewed abroad, and production in Canada was initially only Extra Stout. “Guinness Draft” as the reformulated draft version was launched in the early 80’s (if I’m remembering right) but wouldn’t be packaged for a bit.

Weird thing about Guinness is there’s always been multiple variations for multiple markets with constantly shifting recipes. There was never really a “real” or main Guinness. A version of it that existed consistently with the same recipe from when the product was introduced.