Sure, I like science. Everybody likes science. When you’ve got some kind of disease, or you’re trying to figure out how much the planet Jupiter weighs, science is just the kind of thing to sort things out. But keep those scientists away from my beer.
I opened up the paper last week and saw an article about Guinness beer. Guinness beer is probably the best beer in the world. Staring into a full, frothy pint of the “black stuff” is a great way to contemplate the meaning of life.
Why is the beer so dark? Why is the head so light? What gives Guinness such a thick, delicious taste, when so many other beers are as watery as piss? Part of the allure of Guinness is the ritualistic way it’s poured. You have to fill the glass about halfway, and then let the pint stand for a while. Then, after you’ve waited a few minutes, the barman tops up the beer with a frothy head. The waiting time is precisely calculated, like the span of time between performing miracles and being nominated for sainthood in the Catholic Church. And the satisfaction of pouring a perfect pint of Guinness is comparable to solving a complicated math equation or playing a piano concerto. Okay, I haven’t done either of those things, but my point stands: you know you’ve got it right, just by feel.
So when I read the article, feelings of dread and horror clouded my mind. It seems some genius at Guinness has decided the beer isn’t as profitable as it could be. Why? Guinness takes too long to pour. The waiting time, that sacred interval, is considered a business liability, eating into the number of pints a barman can pour in a night.
What’s the solution to this problem? It’s not what you expected. Some rocket scientist at Guinness has come up with a complicated system—using the latest in high-tech wizardry—to pour a pint faster. The idea is that Guinness will be poured out of the keg totally flat. As flat as Saskatchewan, the beer will flood into the glass, filling it right to the top. Then, the pint is put on a metal plate, where it is zapped with a pulse of ultrasound. The ultrasound generates bubbles in the beer to give it the proper carbonation and head.
This is a travesty. It’s an outrage. The ritual of pouring a Guinness will be destroyed. How are discipline and patience supposed to be taught to the young without the visceral lesson provided by a properly poured pint of Guinness? Good things come to those who wait.
It’s hard not to see overtones of colonialism in this ridiculous plan. Does Guinness, an Irish-UK conglomerate owned by European drinks giant Diageo, think that we colonials don’t know a good pint of Guinness from a bad one? That they can force whatever chemically-processed, ultrasound-bombarded swill they want down our throats without us noticing? That we’re too busy hewing wood and drawing water to know what a proper stout tastes like? After all, why send the good stuff all the way over there, to “a few acres of snow,” as the famous phrase goes?
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