How to Brew a Stout

Guinness Two-Part Pour: The Best Guide to Mastering the Art

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One of my biggest pet hates is a bartender pouring a Guinness wrong. This majestic black giant in the pub world deserves to be treated with respect and, at the very least, poured correctly. But Mr AleAffair, how do you pour the perfect Guinness? I hear you ask. It’s actually quite simple. Guinness is poured in two parts to create its iconic creamy head and allow the stout to settle correctly. Why not pull up a pew and learn about the Guinness Two-Part Pour and its history, and look at how to pour your own perfect Guinness? Hell, let’s even have a look to see if the new Nitrosurge device is worth it. Slainte! 

Why is Guinness Poured in Two Parts?

The Guinness Two-Part Pour is a specific method for pouring a pint of Guinness draught beer to ensure the perfect taste, texture, and presentation for which Guinness is known. Guinness outlines this method and is widely adopted in pubs and bars worldwide to serve the iconic stout correctly. Let’s take a look at how it works!

Guinness Storehouse Guinness Tap
Showing Off The Two-Part Pour

The Pour 

The tulip pint glass is typically held at a 45-degree angle under the tap. The bartender then pulls the tap forward and allows the beer to flow smoothly down the side of the glass until it’s about two-thirds full. This angle and careful pouring method help to prevent the beer from foaming too much during this initial stage.

The Settle

After the first pour, the glass is put down and left to stand for about 119.5 seconds. This resting period allows the nitrogen bubbles in the beer to rise through the liquid, forming the creamy white head that Guinness is famous for. The beer also settles into a clearer division between the dark liquid and the head.

The Top Up 

After the settling period, the glass is filled up the rest of the way by pushing the tap backwards (in some setups), allowing for a slower beer flow. This time, the glass is held upright to encourage a domed effect on the head. The goal is to fill it so the head rises above the rim of the glass without spilling over. The proper Irish way is to have a beautiful dome sitting above the rim – they cram it in over there! 

The History Behind the Perfect Pour

The history of the Guinness Two-Part Pour is entwined with the development of nitrogenated beer and Guinness’s efforts to maintain and enhance the quality and presentation of their stout. 

Guinness, founded in 1759 at St. James’s Gate in Dublin, Ireland, has a long history of innovation and quality in brewing. The two-part pour is a product of the mid-20th century, emerging alongside the introduction of nitrogenated Guinness draught.

Before the 1950s, most beers, including Guinness, were carbonated with carbon dioxide (CO2), affecting the beer’s texture and pours. However, Guinness sought a method to replicate the creamy texture and taste of a freshly brewed cask stout in a draught format that could be served in pubs and bars.

What is the Guinness Two-Part Pour? Guinness Gates in Dublin
Guinness Gates in Dublin

Introduction of Nitrogen

The key innovation was introducing nitrogen (N2) to the draught system. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Guinness developed a new dispensing system that used a mixture of nitrogen and carbon dioxide. 

Nitrogen is less soluble in liquid than CO2, producing smaller bubbles and, therefore, a smoother, creamier head on the beer. This development was a breakthrough, resulting in the distinctive mouthfeel and appearance associated with Guinness draught.

Emergence of the Two-Part Pour

With the new nitrogenated beer, the pouring process needed to be adapted. The two-part pour was developed to control the presentation and texture of the beer. This method ensures that the nitrogen has enough time to create the beer’s signature creamy head and allows the stout to settle correctly, separating into a clear division of black body and white head. 

The ritual of the two-part pour also enhances the consumer’s experience, adding a sense of ceremony and anticipation to the enjoyment of the pint.

Marketing and Training

Guinness has heavily marketed the two-part pour as an essential aspect of enjoying their beer, turning it into a hallmark of quality and authenticity. They have instituted extensive training programs for bartenders worldwide to ensure that Guinness is poured correctly, emphasising the brand’s commitment to tradition and quality.

Cultural and Brand Significance

A clock with "It's Guinness Tasting Time"
It’s Guinness Tasting Time

The two-part pour has become more than just a technique; it symbolises Guinness’s heritage, craftsmanship, and dedication to quality. It plays a crucial role in the brand’s identity and is a significant part of the Guinness drinking experience celebrated by enthusiasts around the globe.

While the two-part pour is a relatively modern innovation, it is deeply rooted in Guinness’s long history and tradition of brewing excellence. It underscores the brand’s continuous innovation while honouring its heritage, ensuring that each pint of Guinness draught is served as intended.

How to Properly Pour Your Guinness 

Pouring a Guinness correctly is an art that enhances the flavour and experience of drinking this iconic stout. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to properly pour your Guinness, whether you’re using a can, bottle, or are lucky enough to have it on draught.

Draught Pour: The Guinness Two-Part Pour Method

For a draught Guinness, follow the official two-part pouring method:

1. The First Pour

  • Hold the glass at a 45-degree angle under the tap.
  • Pull the tap handle forward until it is fully open.
  • Let the beer flow smoothly down the side of the glass without touching the tap.
  • Fill the glass to approximately two-thirds full.
  • Place the glass on the bar counter, only touching it once the beer has settled.

2. The Settle

  • Wait for the surge to settle. The beer’s colour changes from a cloudy amber to a dark black as the nitrogen bubbles rise to the top, creating the creamy white head.

3. The Second Pour

  • Once the beer has settled, fill the glass by pushing the tap handle backwards for a slower pour.
  • Hold the glass straight under the tap and fill until the head forms a slight dome over the top of the glass.
How to Pour the Perfect Pint of Guinness

Pouring a Can of Guinness

Pouring from a can also require care, especially since many Guinness cans have a nitrogen-infused widget replicating the draught experience. 

1. Open and Wait

  • Open the can or bottle and wait for the initial nitrogen release to calm.

2. The Pour

  • Hold the glass at a 45-degree angle and pour the Guinness into the glass in one smooth action.

3. The Settle

  • Allow the beer to settle. This will take a bit longer than a draught pour because of the widget’s effect inside the can or bottle, which continues to release nitrogen.

4. Adjust If Needed

  • You may not need to perform a second pour as with draught, but ensure the beer settles with a proper head before drinking.

How Long Does it Take to Pour a Guinness?

Overall, the entire process from start to finish—including both pours and the settling time—takes about 119.5 seconds (nearly 2 minutes). However, this depends on the precise pouring technique, the patience of the pourer, or whether your server has forgotten about you. This careful and deliberate pouring process is a significant part of the Guinness drinking experience, ensuring the beer’s perfect texture, appearance, and taste.

Is the Nitrosurge Worth it? 

I received a Nitrosurge for Christmas, and I 100% believe it’s worth it. They’re relatively cheap at £25 in England and create a much creamier pint than the usual cans. But don’t take my word for it; here are some Reddit reviews. 

“I think a standard can is a 6/10 Guinness, and the nitrosurge is an 8.5, I think it is an incredible little device and certainly not a gimmick.” 

“It’s better than a standard can and improves the home Guinness drinking experience.” 

“Way better than standard cans at home, which are absolute poison.”

“Well worth it imo, if you’re gonna have a few cans at home instead of going pub, then it’s your best bet and closest to a pub pint. 10/10.”

Is The Nitrosurge Worth It?

So there we have it. The Guinness NitroSurge is worth it if you value an authentic draught experience at home and regularly enjoy Guinness. 


Let me summarise this for you as quickly as it takes to pour a perfect pint of Guinness. The Guinness Two-Part Pour is a technique developed alongside nitrogenated Guinness, which ensures a smooth texture and creamy head for the perfect pint. This technique has become a hallmark of Guinness, emphasising the brand’s heritage and dedication to quality. It originated in the mid-20th century with the introduction of nitrogen to create smaller bubbles.

Whether poured from a can, bottle or draught, it takes about 119.5 seconds to complete, ensuring a distinct mouthfeel and presentation. Turning to the NitroSurge device, it is designed to enhance this experience at home. Enthusiasts consider it worthwhile to replicate a pub-quality Guinness. Let me know your thoughts on the two-part pour and whether you believe the NitroSurge is worth it!


Does Guinness need to be refrigerated?

For optimal taste, Guinness should be stored cool at around 6-7°C (42.8-44.6°F). While it doesn’t require constant refrigeration, chilling it before serving is recommended to enjoy it at its best.

Why Does Guinness taste better in Ireland?

Guinness often tastes better in Ireland due to fresher batches, local water, meticulous pouring techniques, and the cultural ambience, enhancing the iconic stout’s overall experience and flavour perception.

Is Guinness good for you?

Guinness can be beneficial in moderation due to its antioxidants, lower calories compared to other beers, and iron content. However, like all alcoholic beverages, excessive consumption negates these benefits and can lead to health issues.

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