In 1759 Arthur Guinness first began to brew his eponymous Irish stout, and probably sometime in 1760, people started making crap up about it.
Like shamrocks, freckles and bar fights, Guinness has become an icon of the Emerald Isle, known around the world for its impenetrable color, its complex pouring ritual, and its ability to balance well on a toucan's beak. It's also known for the wild rumors associated with it, from the common barfly's claim of better-tasting pints in the old country to conspiracy theories of macabre secret ingredients. Just in time for St. Patrick's Day, Asylum goes MythBusters on your favorite draught. Boston, we're looking at you. Myth Number 1: Guinness is heavy in calories ... False
Guinness weighs in at 125 calories per 12-oz. serving. But wait, who drinks a 12-oz. Guinness? Nobody, since a pint is 16 oz. (20 for the lucky stiffs in the motherland). Do the math and you get about 170 calories per 16-oz. serving. Guess how many are in a 16-oz. Strawberry Surf Rider smoothie from Jamba Juice? 330. Thank us later, ladies.
Myth Number 2: Guinness is supposed to be warm ... False
Guinness reports its draught is best stored at 42.8 degrees. Your average fridge is between 35 and 38, which is a bit on the chilly side. Unfortunately, most beer coolers in bars are even colder to accommodate our thirst for "ice cold" beer. Regardless, 43 degrees is neither warm nor room temperature. The obvious solution is to order two at a time, so one is always warming up!
Learn the truth about what's inside of it, who pours the best pint of Guinness and plenty more, all after the jump
Myth Number 3: 'Guinness for strength' ... Undetermined
The famous 'Guinness is good for you' and similar advertisements from the 1930s -- great marketing ploy, but just keep in mind it came about in the 1930s, when you could still claim your product did anything and not get in trouble with the law. We happen to think a pint of Guinness is the most important meal of the day, but we have no scientific evidence to back that up. Your mileage may vary. If Guinness does give you a boost, it's probably more in the "liquid courage" category.
Myth Number 4: The flavor of Guinness stems from nefarious sources ... False
The more outrageous stories about Guinness include the ones about how dead rats were found at the bottom of the vats in the St James's Gate brewery in Ireland, thus explaining the unique taste of stout. Other stories have circulated that Guinness is actually filtered through lamb's blood to get its taste. This one is classic barroom BS at its finest. Guinness has been the victim of more Snopes-worthy urban legends than any other libation, except maybe Corona
. The basics of Guinness are barley, hops, yeast and water ... from the Skull and Bones Society. Guinness derives its toasted flavor, which tastes anywhere from coffee to chocolate, and bitter hint from the manner in which its malted barley is roasted and the amount of hops used. The creamy taste of the head is a result of nitrogen bubbles released during the pouring process. Myth Number 5: The St. James's Gate brewery produces different kinds of Guinness for various markets ... Kinda
Guinness is available in 100 countries and is brewed in nearly 50 of them, using locally sourced ingredients like water. Therefore, one could argue (and we know you will) that any Guinness brewed outside Dublin is materially different. The top five selling markets? (In order) Great Britain, Ireland, Nigeria, the U.S. and Cameroon. We were surprised by those two, too. Myth Number 6: Water from the River Liffey in Dublin goes into Guinness ... False
While the St. James's Gate brewery sits next to the river, the water used to make Guinness comes from the Wicklow mountains to the south. Myth Number 7: Guinness in a can is different from draught Guinness ... Confusing
Guinness is available in draught, Extra Stout, and Foreign Extra. Draught comes in cans, bottles and, well, draught. Extra Stout comes only in bottles and Foreign Extra comes in bottles, cans and an Extra Smooth variety. Got all that? Good. Myth Number 8: Strict vegetarians can't drink Guinness ... True
The production of the stout involves the use of isinglass, a byproduct of the fishing industry derived from dead fish. Isinglass is used as a fining agent for settling out suspended matter in the beer vat, and while it's kept at the bottom of the tank, some isinglass may end up in the final product. So if you're the type who avoids gelatin and whey in your diet, you're out of luck. We can only imagine the histrionics this revelation might spark from PETA. Myth Number 9: Guinness is black ... False
Look closer and you'll see that Guinness actually has a ruby red color, due to how the malted barley is roasted. Hint: This one is an easy way to win $5 from your friends. Myth Number 10: The Guinness in Ireland is much better than the Guinness served in the United States ... Up to you
While we would never judge a fellow tippler for his esteemed critique of the palate (especially after 2-for-1 atomic-wing night), this granddaddy of Guinness myths is usually spouted from the condescending lips of a recently returned study-abroad student, suddenly eminently more cultured than we are for spending three months puking outside the American-themed bar in some foreign city. Whether a pint is better in the Old Sod than it is here really has to do with a lot of factors -- mainly, how many you've had.