Sunday, February 27, 2011

Ale's Beer Nuts presents... Megan Martin: The Reigning Guinness Perfect Pour Champ!

Megan shows off one of her gangster pours at Deckard's.

Megan defends her title this Monday, February 28th at 9 p.m.

So I’m chillin’ at Deckard’s American Tavern and started talking to a few brew heads and the spot’s cool bartender named Megan Martin, who happens to be the reigning champ of last year’s annual Guinness Perfect Pour contest. Trust me, that’s a big deal because there are competitions held worldwide to find the chosen one who can deliver the best-looking glass full of the original stout birthed way back in 1759 in Dublin, Ireland. Trust me, straight from the tap, there is a formal procedure something serious on how a Guinness stout should be presented and the pourer who has perfected the technique will be awarded a few grand this Monday night at 9 p.m. at Taco Mac’s Lindbergh location (573 Main Street, Atlanta, Georgia 30324; 404.574.5813).
Anyway, so intrigued on what it was like to win the contest and be the reigning champ, I interviewed Megan prior to this year’s competition. Sure, there will be an extensive roster of bar minders who are ready to dethrone this talented Atlanta-born 25-year old who is a self-proclaimed hop head and hates closed-minded people. Ladies and gents, the reigning champ of Guinness pouring, the homey, Megan!

Ale Sharpton: Whaddup, Megan! Talk about the Guinness Perfect Pour contest.
Megan Martin: Bartenders from restaurants all over Atlanta come out to compete and have some fun, while trying to achieve the perfect Guinness pour. The competition is set up in a bracket style format, and one person is chosen in each round to continue forward until the winner is chosen in the final round.

What was it like last year?
Last year was so much fun! I had so many great friends come out to support me and we all had a blast! My nerves immediately set in when I saw how many people were there. Lindbergh Taco Mac is enormous and even the standing room was packed! Not to mention the stage had a camera focused on it, and your image was plastered all over the TV's while you were pouring. Everyone was just having a blast and drinking a TON of Guinness!
The Cheshire grin
As soon as I advanced from the first round, I relaxed a little and just started to have a good time. I became a little more confident as each round went by, and when the final round was finally there, I was so pumped that I didn't really care anymore if I won or not. When my name was called, I just looked at my friends and they were going nuts! I had a huge, Cheshire the Cat grin on my face because I was so shocked! I couldn't believe it. If this year is even half as fun as last year was, I won't be disappointed!!

What do the judges look for in a perfect Guinness pour?
There are certain things that the judges look for in a Guinness pour. Everyone has their own style and personal touches, but the basic guidelines are as follows:

1) The Guinness pour is a two-part pour. Using a 20oz tulip glass, you hold the glass at a 45 degree angle and pull the handle forward. It is important that you pull the tap all the way forward to fully release the flow of the Guinness and not create air bubbles.
2) Fill the glass up about three-quarters of the way, and set the Guinness aside while you let it settle.
3) Once the beer has completely settled and reached that ruby color, it's time to finish the pour. Push the handle back to top off the beer. You want a creamy, smooth head, with a visible dome over the top of the glass.
Make sure you do not touch the beer nozzle to the beer or the glass, or you will be disqualified. Also, avoid allowing the beer to spill over the side of the glass. That is also an automatic disqualification.
4) Place your glass towards the judge, always with the label facing towards them. (Anytime serving a Guinness, the label should face the consumer.)
5) I do not think that drawing a four-leaf clover or design of some kind will get you disqualified, but it also isn't worth any extra consideration in the competition.
Those are the basic steps of the competition pour. Of course, I have a couple tricks up my sleeve, but in the name of competition, I'm going to keep those to myself ;)

I know the physical look isn’t the only thing important about the “perfect pour.” The overall tasting qualities are affected a bit, too, I heard.
Personally, I think a proper pour makes all the difference in the flavor of a Guinness. A Guinness that is poured like a normal beer will taste flat and not have the full flavor. In a correctly poured Guinness, you should taste a slightly bitter, smoky coffee and caramel malty flavor that envelops your entire palate from start to finish. For being known as the "meal in a glass" beer, Guinness is surprisingly light and easy to drink, and also low in calories and carbs (about 125 calories per 12-oz. serving).
Who taught you how to pour a Guinness?
Essentially, I was taught by three amazing fellow bartenders at the Johns Creek Taco Mac. Their names are Jeremy Jones, Jay Holloway, and Jason Thompson. I owe them for all my secrets and tricks, and a ton of my beer knowledge!

Okay, on the personal tip, tell us some stuff about yourself.
Well, I would love to work at a brewery, vineyard, distributor... basically anywhere that I can expand my beer, wine, and liquor knowledge, and work with other beer enthusiasts!
My Loves: Family and friends; good beer; red wine; whisky; hippie jams; reading a good book; live music and festivals, beer blogs, hoppy citrus IPA's, pets, ice cream and making lists.
My Dislikes: Mustard, radio music, sour beers (maybe one day?!), bitter after-tastes, know-it-alls, Miley Cyrus, spiders, liars and close-minded people

Any shout outs?
Oh! A special thanks to Chef Matt Deckard for choosing me to support Deckard's American Tavern in the 2011 Guinness Pour!!

Thanks Megan for the love! (Envision the Ale Sharpton hand dap here.) See you Monday, fam!!!


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