I’m bringing forward my earlier post on draft Guinness as it was before the “nitro-pour”, see here. This post is among the most read in my catalogue, along with my piece on Dow ale.
The post fits well with a fascinating British Pathé clip I found on youtube the other day, see here. It shows in living colour the drawing of Guinness in Dublin by handpump c. 1960. The beer appears to get a finishing dose from a second barrel under the bar. The tap is turned by hand in this case – no pump handle; perhaps the second beer came up by compressed air.
The second brew was probably the flat, more aged Guinness of two forms in the cellar. In that period, draft Guinness was often a mix of two casks, one fresh and foamy, the other flatter, older, perhaps a little lactic. A touch of the latter gave the beer a greater complexity.
In the literature on Irish porter, there is inconsistency whether the fresh foamy cask was poured first or the flatter, older beer. To my mind the older beer should go in second, but perhaps that is not right, or some pubs did it different ways. In any case you see two pours in one glass in the film if you look carefully.
The pub shown, The Long Hall in Great Georges Street, still exists, as you see here. Using the 360 degree view feature one sees the handpull paraphernalia still. Unless used for a craft brand, it is disused as no Guinness today is served by handpump. It’s decor, now.
The pub is extremely handsome, a lush Victorian interior is belied by the plain frontage and fascia. If you want an idea of the 19th century gin palace, this gives more than the flavour.
Cask stout today or no, The Long Hall looks a great place to have a drink and ponder the shades of Brendan Behan.
The stunning visual document from British Pathé, not previously identified by the beer historical community to my knowledge, is a valuable aid to understanding Guinness history.
Diageo Guinness, to my knowledge again, has resisted bringing back cask-conditioned beer, something that mystifies me, but there it is. If it ever does so though, I would advise an all-malt specification and vigorous hopping as Guinness used in the 19th century and probably into the mid-1900s.