Galway Bay Hotel function room, Salthill – July 2015 (1/4)

My goodness! Is that Guinness?

Let me begin by stating that I am only referring to the function room of this hotel when I rate the pint here but I just have to forewarn anyone who loves their Guinness. Fair enough, it’s a function room, & may not get as much use as the actual bar, but the establishment has no problem charging full whack for the “pints” they serve so they need to be called out on it.

The attempted pints of Guinness here had the classic frothy head which very quickly dissipates to nothing. The “Guinness draft” becomes an awful tasting version of Guinness Extra Stout. I wasn’t the only one who had this experience & a fellow G-Man who mentioned it to the bar staff was told that they thought it was grand & that no one else complained so he’d have to live with it. This is no way to treat a Guinnesslover, rather, they should be falling over themselves to take his advice. This is the kind of shit that pisses me off; you get served full-price muck & the establishment won’t hear a thing about it. No love for the G! Do not buy pints of Guinness in the function room, take the time to pop to the bar upstairs & get a decent pint.

The Crane Bar, Galway – July 2015 (4/4)

My goodness! Now that’s Guinness!

Seeing as how this is a place well known for its trad sessions, you’d be expecting the Guinness be up to standard. Oh, it is. For me it was just a sneaky one after a wedding ceremony so it was about 3 in the afternoon of a Friday. There were 3 people in the place, including the barman, which was perfect for us tryin to get a swift one in before the Salthill strand photocall. One of the locals was a total bousey. He could barely speak to us, & anything he did say was gobbledy-gook, but, in fairness, he did try to engage, so I can confirm that the locals are friendly.

When the pint settled in front of me it looked like absolute perfection. You’d think the head had been measured with bloody ruler it was so right &, through the glass, the black-darkness seemed as black as vantablack; so dark it absorbs all but 0.035% of visual light such that the human eye can’t understand what it’s seeing. Shapes & contours are lost, leaving nothing but an apparent abyss (to paraphrase the Independant’s Ian Johnston). I was staring into a Guinness abyss & I wanted to dive in. The pint was so cool & full of that creamy flavour I love …right to that last gulp. Unfortunately it was over all too soon as we were wanted down the beach & so couldn’t stick around for seconds.

This place serves a quality pint of Guinness. Go.

The Oslo, Salthill, Galway – July 2015 (3/4)

Guinness time

This place is “the home of Galway Bay Brewery” so when I went to the bar all I could see were the craft beer/ local stout taps which gave me a bit of a fear. Fortunately the barman could see my wandering eyes & my grimace & let me know that they had a Guinness tap to cater for those like myself. If they didn’t have Guinness on tap, I woulda just gone for a beer as I can’t stand any other stout (some of them taste like there’s a fish in them; God they are bad).

Upon delivery, the pint seemed to be holding up well & the taste didn’t disappoint either; bit o’the cream, nice taste: as it should be. The place is nice & the people seem friendly, not a bad spot for a nice pint-o-G.

Actual Pint
Actual Pint

Mulligans, Dublin – June 2015 (4/4)

My goodness! Now that’s Guinness!

Special mention goes out to this place as this pub serves the most consistently amazing Guinness in the city. I have never got a bogey pint here, in fact, I’ve never got anything less than a 4/4!

This visit was no exception. The pint settles outrageously creamily, it’s delight to behold. The glass is cold & damp to hold & the floppy-touch of that cream on the upper lip is like landing face down in a cloud. The flavour is exactly as I expect from my pint of Guinness; pure tasty blackness, so cool & drinkable. If St. Peter lets me through the pearly gates, I want to be met by a freshly poured Mulligans pint on the other side. This is Guinness as it should be. If you want to taste Guinness, this is the place for you, this is G-heaven.

Pearly Gates2

Donoghue’s, Portlaoise – June 2015 (4/4)

My goodness! Now that’s Guinness!

This is a really cozy local, right on Market Square in the centre of Portlaoise. The proprietor, Seamus Donoghue, knew everyone that came in & was pouring the pints himself. This is always a good sign, & by-Jaysus did he deliver. I could see the quality creaminess once the first pint was laid in front of me & just knew it was going to be great. The feel & the taste of those first gulps was pure tasty refreshment & that lasted right through to the final, creamy finisher. Obviously, I went back to the well a couple-o’times more.

This place is quiet & friendly & serves as good a pint of Guinness as you’re likely to find. Guinness drinkers; this place deserves your custom!

Seasons Restaurant, Portlaoise – June 2015 (2/4)

Not Guinness time, not here anyway.

As it’s a restaurant, I was a little reluctant to order a pint of Guinness here but the waiter/ proprietor could see I had something to say & he got it out of me. I would have preferred if they sold widget-cans, which generally taste pretty good, but he advised me that the Guinness was good & that I just had to try it to see him proven right, which I obviously did.

Unfortunately, he wasn’t proven right; the Guinness wasn’t up to standard. The head was frothy rather than creamy & the taste was sub-par. I finished the pint but by the end I was squirming somewhat, as is always the case when finishing one of these dodgy ones. You feel like you have to finish it anyway, seeing as how you’ve already paid for it & you think they’ll say you’re bullshitting if you just tell them straight out that it’s not good enough.

This place is fine, just don’t order a Guinness with your meal.

The Killeshin Hotel, Portlaoise – June 2015 (1/4)

My goodness! Is that Guinness?

When yer down the country you just expect the pint to be of a decent standard; not so. When this pint was topped-up, the head was minuscule & it didn’t get any better once it had settled. As ever, you’re just praying that a head will develop, but it rarely does. It ended up with a pencil-tache head & I just knew the taste wasn’t gonna be up to scratch. From the first gulp this pint was atrocious & it didn’t improve at all. The head was non-existent after my second slurp &, consequently, there was obviously no head-retention on the glass. It was so bad that, in a rare turn, I had to leave it after having only drank a third of it; it was actually the worst pint I had ever tasted (in Ireland. I wouldn’t even venture to rate any off of this island), it was anything but Guinness but the bar still charges as though it is. This is the pint that set this blog in motion; pure muck!

In fairness to the place, which is nice, & got a 4/5 for the hotel off me of Tripadvisor, once it had been highlighted to them via the aforementioned medium, the general manager advised me that it had been highlighted to the food & beverage manager so hopefully next time I check the Guinness will make the grade. It has a long way to go from this pint.

Pencil Tache
Pencil Tache

Rating System

Pintability will be judged on basic factors (creaminess, tastiness etc) which I’ll advise in each post ultimately assigning a rating to each establishment’s effort. The pint will fall somewhere on the scale of undrinkable (1/4) to perfection (4/4) as follows:

  • My goodness! Is that Guinness? (1/4)
  • Not Guinness time, not here anyway. (2/4)
  • Guinness time. (3/4)
  • My goodness! Now that’s Guinness! (4/4)

The minimum that should be expected from any self respecting Guinness vendor should be a 3/4; tasty, as it should be, no problem going again & again in such a place; it’s Guinness time & we’re happy. Anything below that & they’re just not trying.

Good Pint, Bad Pint

Creamy pint. It sounds so tasty. For me, this is the crux. The lack of a creamy head is an immediate turn-off. It’s such a giveaway when you see a fluffy bubble-head, you know the pint is gonna be sub-par. After an initial shake you can tell if you’re in dodgy territory or not. The creaminess is key for me because with a good pour the head retention will be perfect all the way to the end of the pint & you get to have that lovely creamy finish for your last gulp. Mmmmmm.

Now, don’t be fooled, the head needs to be the right size. Non-existant is not acceptable but, also, a giant head is an awful sign. A giant collar is a clear sign that your pint is gonna be crap; the taste is going to be off. The thing is, so many places get it right, so why can’t everyone?

Here’s an example of  fail. At this point I would be praying the head eases off but you just know that when this settles about 25% of the drink will be head which is a really bad portent as far as the taste is concerned.

Giant Collar
Giant Collar

It’s Time to Take a Stand

I absolutely love a good pint of Guinness. Unlike your average drink, Guinness tastes different from one establishment to the next, sometimes even from one tap to the next. I have no issue with this, as long as the pint is up to a certain standard. What I do take issue with is an establishment in Ireland serving a paying customer an excuse of a pint of Guinness. What really annoys me is how one bar can fail to pour me a decent creamy pint when I know I can absolutely guarantee such quality in another establishment. Why does a bar say they serve Guinness when they are actually serving a joke of an excuse for a pint?

These things really piss me off. I think I should be able to ask a barman to tell me if the Guinness is decent in his establishment & if he tells me it is, charges me full whack & then a non-creamy head dissipates after 2 minutes, I should be allowed get a pint of something else on the house. Drinking establishments are actually misleading the Guinness-drinking public by serving below-par Guinness; they’re not selling Guinness, they’re selling shite. It has now got to the point that if I know an establishment sells brutal pints, I just have a beer instead!

I’m fed up with this & I’ve decided to take a stand with this blog. From now on I’m going to rate an establishment’s pintability . If you’re going to serve Guinness, you deserve to be judged on it by someone who really cares.