On Tuesday night, I had the pleasure of attending a free Guinness event in Manhattan with two of my buddies. Over the past year or two, we seem to have made it a tradition of sorts to attend free scotch tastings throughout the city, so it was nice to mix it up this time with a beer-oriented one. Usually, the scotch events are faux-high class affairs with little in the way of photo-ops (other than the ones that are already set up when you first walk in), and so I decided to leave my camera at home for the Guinness Believer event. Huge mistake!
The first thing that I noticed upon entering the space on 18th Street at the Altman Building was how chic and inviting the layout was. Once inside, we were greeted by a woman handing out the medallions for our first free pints of the night. Right behind her was a bar in the center of the room with more pints of Guinness on its top than I had ever seen in my life. We ponied up and grabbed our first free suds before making our way around to the rest of the spacious loft-type room that was housing the event. A large screen was set up to the left with chairs arranged in front of it, presumably for the requisite audio-visual demonstration that takes up most of the evening. What floored me, though, was the set-up that I saw at the head of the room: a "Pour The Perfect Pint" rig that was identical to the one that I had used in Dublin when I visited the Guinness Brewery in 2009.
The next section explains how you can layer Guinness on top of another beer. It offers a variety of suggestions for beer styles that can be mixed with Guinness, each of which has a clever name like the Guinness & American Lager one called the "Irish American." Some of these--the Half & Half (Guinness & Harp Premium Lager) and the Blacksmith (Guinness & Smithwick's) were advertised at the event with their own informative displays (pictured below). The final two pages offered brewing and tasting information on all of the beers, including ABV, IBU, and SRM figures, as well as aroma and flavor profiles.
|Photo Courtesy of Carlos Moreno|
After fifteen minutes or so, the lights dimmed and the emcee came to the stage. Usually, the brand representative sets the stage for someone (usually the brand ambassador) who will lead the audience through some history and self-promotion for the product/brewery/distillery. In this case, the emcee was the speaker and, to his credit, one who was very adept at maintaining a crowd's interest without resorting to classroom management-style techniques. He was genuinely hilarious and charismatic and, surprisingly, the promotional portions of the night were among the highlights.
|Photo courtesy of Carlos Moreno|
After introducing himself, he led us in a toast with our free pints, quipping that, if anyone had already finished their beer, that they were true Guinness Believers (the theme of the event--being a Believer). The next brief video segment was played and then we were given a smaller sample of the Foreign Extra Stout. I'm not sure if it had been on draft or poured from bottles but it was awesome. I had had it for the first time in Ireland and then snagged it once it became available here in the States; I might have to add it to my rotation of regularly enjoyed brews.
The previous sequence was repeated as we watched another brief video before being given our Guinness Black Lager samples. After the next video, two guests were invited to come to the stage to demonstrate the "Perfect Pour" of a Guinness (trivia fact: it takes 119.5 seconds to complete said Perfect Pour). The room was nominally divided into Team Mike and Team Gabriel and we were whipped into a frenzy of support for our respective pourers (we had Gabriel, the winner of both the popularity contest and pouring competition). Both men walked away with a Guinness t-shirt and track jacket, respectively.
After that, the penultimate video was played. Another guest was then invited to demonstrate how the widget works in a nitro can of Guinness. She received the poured beer as a parting gift before the final spiel and video were given and played. At that point, we were invited to visit a number of bars participating in a Perfect Pour social media challenge in which the respective establishments would be graded online based upon how well they poured their pints of Guinness. The music then came on and I noticed that the bartenders were already pouring pints for the next round of guests. In total, the entire event clocked in at under an hour.
Having been to a number of great whisky events, it was nice to enjoy a beer one for once. If I were giving it a grade, it would definitely be an A because we were given almost two free pints of beer, were served some tasty snacks, were able to enjoy an informative and aesthetically pleasing display, and were entertained by a great host who never made us feel like we were having the Guinness brand shoved down our throats. In truth, the majority if the self-promotional aspects focused more on the legacy of the brand rather than its current efforts at expansion or pimping of products. I appreciated this a great deal because it is that legacy that has fostered my connection to both the brand and the beer.
You really can't ask for more in an event, so I'd recommend highly that you scope out the Guinness Believer website and sign up for one near you!