(This tutorial also pertains to Beamish Stout, Murphy’s Stout and Boddingtons, although the keg couplers are different.)
We’ve had lots of inquires about dispensing Guinness, therefore we’ve created this short piece. In the United States we get basically three kinds of Guinness from Ireland. One is the bottled version which is very bitter and high in alcohol content. Then we have the draught version, dispensed from metal kegs and found in many bars and restaurants around the country. The draught version is low in alcohol and calories. It is characterized by its tight, creamy head of foam. The third version is the draft can. This is a 14.9 oz can sold in stores. The can has a small widget in the bottom that contains a small nitrogen charge. When the can is opened, the nitrogen is released which makes the beer come alive. The can version is close in taste to the actual keg version.
We will focus now on the draught version of Guinness (kegged).
Draught Guinness is a completely different animal from all other draft beers. There are three basic differences.
- Instead of using CO2 to push the beer through the lines, a nitrogen/CO2 blend is used for Guinness. It’s a mixed gas, all in one air tank. 25% CO2, 75% nitrogen. Set the regulator for 35 psi ± 3 psi on the gauge. The nitrogen is what gives Guinness its creamy, tight head that makes it pour and look unique. Just about every city in the country has a mixed gas dealer. Look under “gas” in the yellow pages. The Guinness Import Company goes to great lengths to make sure that gas dealers are properly blending air tanks with mixed gas. Ask your local Guinness distributor who they recommend. Some gas dealers will only fill a nitrogen tank with the mixed gas. Other dealers will fill a CO2 tank with the mixed gas. The only difference between the two kinds of tanks are the threads on it. You can still use your beer regulator with a nitrogen tank, all you need is a CO2 -Nitrogen Adapter.
- Now we have the keg coupler. This is the piece that fits onto the keg itself. Draught Guinness and Harp Lager use a coupler that is unique to those brands. It looks somewhat like the same coupler that Budweiser uses but there are differences.
- The last thing is the faucet. If you’ve watched a bar person pour a pint of Guinness, look at the faucet. It is different than all the other faucets. Sometimes it is called a European Specialty Faucet. There is a different type of handle on the faucet, it is pulled forward and down for the beer to come out. Also in the faucet is a tiny restrictor disc. The beer is forced through the disc, this is what helps give Guinness its unique head. There is also no waste (foaming over) with dispensing Guinness. These Specialty Faucets can be converted to dispense any other type of beer (i.e.: Bud, Miller, Coors etc.) by removing the restrictor disc/ flow straightener.
The bottom line to all this is that it is not impossible to pour Draught Guinness at home. The pieces to do it are just different. It is possible to convert an existing system to dispense Guinness. You’ll need to change your faucet, air tank, coupler and regulator.
You will be the envy of all your friends!!