Guinness of Sydney reveal the secrets behind the perfect pint of the black stuff

The secretive Irish duo have spent the last year documenting and scoring Sydney’s best (and worst) spots for a drop of Ireland’s finest.

In a darkened room upstairs at the Glebe Hotel, I met with the two Dubliners who have made it their life’s mission to discover the Harbour City’s perfect pint. Such is the perilous nature of their crusade, I was sworn to keep their identities confidential. 

“The two of us are Guinness lovers… We’ve been drinking Guinness since we were 18 – and probably been a bit before that,” one member of the team confessed.

“Our friends would always ask us ‘Where’s good to get Guinness?’ and the account was one of those ideas that we kept bouncing back and forth around Christmas 2020.”

The younger of the pair adds: “You don’t always know where to order a good pint in Sydney, so we just started the page, and it’s just kind of taken off – it’s done a lot better than what we thought.”

With no background in hospitality, but armed with an undying love of Guinness, the pair set out to create an Instagram account that would document their experiences.

In just over a year, the page has gone from a fun idea between friends, to an authoritative source on Sydney’s best ‘pint of plain’, complete with merchandising, over 4,000 followers and a well-honed scoring system.

“Obviously, it’s just our opinion, and we urge people to try the pubs themselves, whether good or bad, and see what their opinion is on it.”

The team initiated me into the details of their scoring system: “The main thing is taste – smooth, creamy texture, no bitter aftertaste; secondly is appearance – Guinness glass, domed head, head size; third is price and then fourth is service – bar staff, atmosphere and how they pour the pint.”

“We rate each section out of 10, then get the average.”

Top tips for bars this St. Patrick’s Day

“For us, appearance is important. A Guinness glass is important.”

Guinness’s branded ‘Gravity’ glass has been carefully designed to bring out the best in the pint, as the boys explained.

The tulip shape creates the stout’s hallmark sinking bubbles and ‘surge’, while the slight taper to the top of the glass ensures the drink’s distinctive creamy dome. The curves and narrower base show off the fact that Guinness is actually ruby red in colour, not black!

“We understand that there are licensing reasons at play, but a no-no is plastic glasses on Paddy’s day.”

So, what are differences between getting a pint of Guinness in Australia, compared to back home in Ireland?

“Consistency is the major difference – we might get a bad pint, but another person will come in a few days later and get a nice pint.”

“We often find the staff in Australia get a bit nervous and apologetic about the wait time, but we Guinness drinkers know it’s part of the experience.”

This observation leads neatly to their key advice for most venues serving Guinness, particularly in the run-up to St. Patrick’s Day: train your staff.

“Train the bar staff up properly, if you’re serving Guinness, don’t be serving it the wrong way.”

“There’s one pub we’ve been to, where there was one Irish bartender who served every pint of Guinness – because she knows how to pull it right. And that’s good that they do that, but they should probably train the rest of them and give her a break.”

The Guinness of Sydney duo were particularly keen to reiterate this message with St. Patrick’s Day fast approaching, which they described as “our Christmas”.

“You’re going to be busy, train your staff – before last orders, pour the pints in advance. On Paddy’s Day the pints aren’t going to be there very long.”

Not all their advice was saved for Sydney bartenders, the pair had some messages for Guinness HQ too: bring the Nitro Surger and Guinness 0.0 to Australia.

With the lockdowns of the last two years, the Nitro Surger, a device that attaches to special cans to recreate the nitro-tap experience at home, has been a lifesaver for fans of the black stuff.

And with the rise of the NOLO category, the Guinness of Sydney team are keen to see Guinness’s own non-alc option come to these shores, particularly as one of the pair has a pregnant partner.

Seamus and the Guinness of Sydney team enjoyed pints and food at The Glebe Hotel

Guinness of Sydney’s Top Four Pints in the city

  • The Hero of Waterloo, The Rocks
  • The Salisbury Hotel, Stanmore
  • The Henson, Marrickville
  • Jimmy’s Bar and Restaurant, Randwick

Honourable mentions went also to the Rosebery Hotel and The Gaelic Club in Surry Hills (open on Fridays). A full map, complete with scores, can be found here.

Follow Guinness of Sydney’s Instagram here.

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