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Guinness Stout

Guinness Stout: Vitamin G in a Bottle

4.27 average, 401 votes
by David Lauterbach
2008 December 4
Originally posted in 2002.

Guinness Logo“Why don’t you have a review of Guinness on your site?” “Why don’t you have a review of Guinness on your site?” “Why don’t you have a review of Guinness on your site?” Sometimes our emails all start the same- “Dear Idiots, Why don’t you have a review of Guinness on your site?”

Would you even read a review of Guinness without your own preconceptions? When you clicked on the link to read this article, you didn’t really click it to find out our opinion of Guinness- you already know that we like it and drink it and that you like it and drink it. Something else brought you here. Perhaps it was interest in the widget… perhaps it was interest in the new draught bottle. Perhaps you were wondering if the correct spelling is draft or draught. Well, let me try to satisfy your interests.

Three BrothersYou all probably know that Guinness Draught is not exclusive to your local pub anymore. It has been available in cans since 1988 and since February, 2001 in bottles (we’re not talking about the Guinness Extra Stout bottles with the golden label that most people avoid). Guinness has spared no expense in trying to make your drinking experience as close as a trip to a pub in Ireland as possible.

The key, as you know, is in the widget- a patented capsule of nitrogen that is in encased in the can during the canning process. It sounds simple- stick ping pong ball full of gas with a little hole in it into the can to make it fizz when you open it. But that’s not quite right- and there is a lot more going on in there.

To get the perfect pour from the “nitro” can, Guinness has done several things to insure that it’s beer is served right. Although you may not realize it at first, Guinness is less fizzy than most beer- it is canned with less CO2 than other brews. But before they seal it up they add the empty widget and give the can a hit of liquid nitrogen to help pressurize the container- and yes, liquid nitrogen is the same element that can stop the Terminator cold. Some of it evaporates causing the can to pressurize and forces beer into the hole in the sphere, compressing the nitrogen into the widget. When you pop the top, the pressure releases in the can and the nitrogen in the spherical widget forces the beer that was drawn into it out of the little hole. The nitrogen-agitated beer mixes with the CO2 that is already dissolved (some of which is naturally forming in the can). Further, when you pour it into a nice clean, soap-free glass it creates a thick, creamy, legendary head that Jim Koch would have wet dreams about.

[sniplet Inline Google]

So for years now we have been able to enjoy Guinness at home from the can (heh-heh). But you can’t drink Guinness from a can and this bugged the bottlers at the St. James Gate Brewery. They have been worried all these years that since you need a pint glass to enjoy their beer that you may be less likely to grab a Guinness on your way out to the pool or while driving in the car.

So they have now created a widget for the new millennium (to the tune of $13 million) and placed it in a bottle that you can drink from. The “rocket widget” debuted in Ireland in 1999 and here in the United States in test markets in 2001. It is now available everywhere in the U.S.

Rocket WidgetIn the bottle, the rocket shape helps keep the widget oriented correctly. When you pop the cap, most of the pressure is released from a hole in the bottom of the rocket widget which has compressed beer along with gaseous nitrogen. Then with each additional sip as you drink, a little more pressure is released, a little more agitation occurs and a tiny head is kept on the beer in the bottle.

So how does all this science make the beer taste? To actually do this comparison the right way, I ordered a pint from an Irish bar up the street and walked it home. I then cracked open a can and poured it into a pint glass and popped the top on a Guinness Draught in a bottle.

My results? Personally I think the bottled beer comes a little closer to the actual draught beer you’d find in a bar or pub. The canned version pronounces the bitter aftertaste that I never usually notice- the fact that I have all three versions at my disposal makes it more prominent. The bottle seems to be the most creamy of the three, especially when I got down to the bottom… it was consistent in it’s thickness to the last drop. My only complaint about the bottle would be that I am not getting 12 ounces; rather they are packaging 11.2 ounces into what should traditionally be a 12 ounce bottle. Not good at math? That’s a beer and a half less per case of 24. Guinness does the same with their 14.9 ounce can (Boddington’s seems to be the only can with a widget that actually gives you 16 ounces).

Does the bar drawn pint from a tap win hands down? I don’t think so. I actually preferred the bottle over the true draught in this taste test. Guinness purists will have my head for saying that, but you must keep in mind that a) I live in the Bronx, not Dublin; and b) Guinness will be served differently at different brew pubs in spite of the best laid plans of the Guinness companies. I like the consistency of the bottle- there are too many factors that can’t be controlled with the tap including how clean the glass was and how clean their lines are.

Guinness for healthThis makes the perfectionists at the St. James Brewery cringe. This, along with the fact that they believe that when a bar patron has to wait two minutes for a Guinness that they would rather order a 10-second Budweiser, has prompted a yet another paradigm shift in serving beer. I have heard rumors of a new draught delivery system for pubs that will serve the brew as if out of a can or bottle- agitating the beer with a burst of nitrogen after it’s drawn into the pint glass… ready to drink in twenty seconds. [UPDATE: This system has since been tested and abandoned; apparently people are willing to wait two minutes… I know I am].

Guinness is often thought of as a high calorie beer but the official word from Guinness is that it is less than 11 calories per ounce. A 12oz serving has 125 calories, 9.8 grams of carbs and it’s alcoholic content is 4.2%. For comparison, 12 ounces of Budweiser is 150 calories and 11 grams carbs, 12 ounces of Heineken is 150 calories and 12.2 grams of carbs, 12 ounces of Corona Extra is 148 calories and 14.1 grams of carbs, and SURPRISE… a Sam Adams Light has 126 calories and 10.9 grams of carbs. Of course, I don’t know anyone who only drinks 12 ounces of Guinness (or any beer for that matter) so your mileage will vary.

For an animated look at how the new rocket widget works, take a look at the Guinness site. The Guinness WebStore also has quite a selection of branded products for any proud Guinness drinker.

Oh, and draught is a variant of the word draft… now you know.

Belly Laughs
How To Get A Rocket Widget From A Bottle Of Guinness

Get a good look at the nitrogen-burning rocket widget in your next bottle of Draught. Collect and trade them! Do not try this at home, unless you’re an idiot.

How to get a Rocket Widget from a bottle of Guinness

Illustration (drawn) by Belly Babe Liz Bartucci; color design (colored in) by Belly Buddy David Lauterbach

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“Why don’t you have a review of Guinness on your site?”


There is nothing better than the first drink of a pint of Guinness poured (correctly) in an Irish pub. It is definitely worth the wait. It is very disappointing to me when I go to a pub outside of the Boston area and they pour it too fast. It still tastes good but not as good as when it is poured right. I have had both the can and bottle but still prefer the actual draught.


Thanks for a nice write up on Guinness aka Genius!
The perfect pint.
I love the stuff.
Try driking a cold pint of Guinness at whatever your normal pace is and then after the pint is gone follow it immediately with a shot of Jameson.
It’s awesome. 🙂

Isn’t Guinness actually a stout porter though?
That’s why it tastes so amazingly different than a stout in comparison?


Just spotted this post. Good stuff but a couple of corrections. There is no “natural” co2 in Guinness. You only get that in real draught beer, ie cask conditioned. “Draught” is (was?) legally protected in the UK to mean that. Hence “draft” on some cans. I agree there are some excellent microbrews in the US but they need to calm down on the ABV. It’s easy to brew good tasting high OG beer. Let’s try brewing some good session beers America. And finings are just another part of the brewing process. Don’t get squeamish.


Drinking local beers makes a big difference because they are a lot fresher. I am sure that the Paulander I drink would taste a lot better if it wasnt six weeks old and shipped through various climates and temperatures.

Drink you local beers if you have them .

I agree that Guiness is an excellent beer and that most of the mass produced US(Bud, Cooors light etc) lagers are pretty bad.


Dude… as the french say… dont’ be a dousche! This is a great beer, even if there may be greater. Why so negative and cynical?!? Even if that’s how you feel it irritates people who really like the beer to hear you bad mouth it. I grew up on the stuff and quite frankly it’s like you’ve just belted my first son with a tire iron. If you don’t really like guinness how did you end up reading this article and why would you navigate to a page about guinness… except to express your superior palate’s disdain for this great… Read more »


I also am in favor of the widget’s return


I agree with colin!
Put the widget back in the bottles!
There is no point in drinking the creamy,
Smooth god of beer if the texture is bitter
And bubbly. What were they thinking!? Go complain…
And this must have just happend this past month or two?


They took the widget out of the bottles..!!!!
Shame on them.
I already sent a complaint to Guinness. I urge you to do the same.
The new bottles are “fizzy crap”.


If you take Europeans (and Germans in particular), put them on a boat to America, and then release them, what makes you think they forget how to brew beer, or pass that knowledge down through the generations?

Benjamin Reed

Hey now. Americans have some great beers. Small and medium-sized operations have been turning out very fine lagers and ales and even barley wine for ages. (It’s just the makers of fizzy fishpiss who can afford to ship their questionable brands all over the globe.) But just like the Belgian beers somebody on this list so does love, you can’t drink strong or heavy craft beers all the time, not unless you want to spend your life as the fat guy who’s always face-down on the pub floor. Part of the reason I love Guinness is that you can drink… Read more »


Most American beer is great if you like drinking watered-down piss. Not all of them are terrible, but American beer is not the best beer. And Guinness is not the worst.

Sam I

Is there any sugar in Guinness Stout? Is it possible to brew a Guinness drink without alcohol? I mean a new brand of Guinness without alcohol


The fish bladder is not used for cleaning the vat, it’s used for clearing the yeast from the beer. It makes the yeast clump together (or gel) making it a lot easier to clear the yeast out. Not all american beer is swill, but mass manufactured american beer is mostly swill. Perhaps some exceptions which I don’t know of though. It’s relatively easy to make an expensive and really good beer in small batches, but scaling production up is hard. Scaling production up, getting costs down and keeping the quality throughout is VERY hard. America has become quite excellent at… Read more »

An Ard Ri

Guinness doesn’t use fish bladders when brewing the beer…it’s used when cleaning the vat. No need to slander the beer.

Rabid Jack

The Widget: “a waste of plastic in increasingly recyclable age.”

I do not like things tumbeling around in the bottle. I dont drink canned beer at all.

And whats up with the fish bladder Guiness uses in its brewing process?


What is the sugar content in Guinness Stout?


Big Bear Black Stout – from Bear Republic. Best beer I’ve ever had, apart from good draft Guinness in Ireland.

As for not ‘traveling well’, I can say that there are actually a couple of pubs in the US that serve a great pint of Guinness. It needs to flow a lot, so it doesn’t get stale in the pipes, and needs to be served well. And having seen hundreds of kegs literally rolled off the trucks to be put in the cellars of pubs in Dublin, I can safely say it’s not in the handling…


David is quite correct. I just tried it with 6 bottles and nothing has ever been easier. Just a regular old needlenose pliers did the trick without struggle. Now I can use those bottles for homebrewing.

David V

If you really want to remove a rocket widget it’s much easier than breaking the bottle. Drink the Guinnesss. Fill the bottle with water to float the widget to the top. Use a suitable pair of needlesose pliars or tweezers to pull the widget and it will slip out


Mair, you are incredibly misguided to label all american beers swill. Not all US beer is BudMillerCoors, there are some great stouts, real ales, and lagers made here. I should know, I brew my own and know a few pro brewers (and have a lip for the stout). I’d recommend you give some of them a try, you might be surprised by the quality of craft beer.

Liam Sullivan

I am curious what is this new “mock draught” system that bars/pubs have now. I saw this device attached to a bar with the Guinness logo on it, and apparently when you ask for a Guinness the bartender opens a Guinness can and runs it through the device to simulate a draught. Seems like a good device to have at home when you can’t make it out. Does anyone know more about this device?
Thank you! Liam


America is the king of stout? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! American beer is swill. Just about every other country in the world brews better beer than America. Get your head out of your ass Joe.

[…] and Heaps o’ Troubleglen on Beck’s Oktoberfest: They Brew It Better In Bostonglen on Guinness Stout: Vitamin G in a BottleChris Bergsma on Boddington’s Pub Ale: Beer Smoothie Drinkinest […]


Sorry, Joe. Guinness is the standard all other stouts strive to replicate. It’s the national drink of Ireland.. “Mother’s milk” they’ll tell you. And it’s true, as they say, that it doesn’t travel well. If you’ve not had a Guinness in an Irish pub, you’ve not really had a Guinness. No offense, but comparing a Stout to a Belgian Ale is the equivalent of comparing an Australian Syrah to a Spanish Cava. America has come a long way with brewing in recent years, but Europeans (and Germans in particular) have forgotten more about brewing than we know. We’ve been cursed… Read more »


“(we’re not talking about the Guinness Extra Stout bottles with the golden label that most people avoid)”

Say what??? I am bitterly disappointed to read this disparaging comment. Maybe it’s because Extra Stout was the first Guinness I ever drank, or whatever, but it has FAR more flavor than Guinness Draught. Now, I love Guinness Draught – and do prefer a properly drawn Imperial pint to the bottle any day – but Extra Stout is the nectar of the Gaelic Gods.


Is Guinness an alcholic bevereage? I so like the way it milky, foamy, froth!


Highly overrated beer.

Sure it’s not bad, but there are far far better beers.

Belgian beers for example trump Guinness and in terms of actual Stouts, America is now the king.

Rogue Shakespeare, Bell’s Expedition, Stone Russian Imperial Stout… and on and on and on.

All trump Guinness.

Any thoughts? Please comment!x