This traditional dense Irish bread is made with whole wheat flour, oatmeal, baking soda, brown sugar, salt, butter, milk, molasses, raisins and Guinness beer. When we made the bread recently, my dad opened the can of Guinness, poured the half-cup that the mix required, and felt something moving inside the can. After he drank the rest of the beer, he took off the lid to see what was still inside. It turned out to be a little plastic ball.
He sent Guinness Consumer Care an e-mail to find out what the little plastic ball was all about. A representative named Betty responded with the answer. He thought it was so interesting that he suggested a blog post about it. Here’s what Betty wrote:
“During the late 60’s, brewers began to experiment with nitrogen as a natural additive to beer in an effort to achieve a smoother taste and better head generation and retention. I say natural because nitrogen accounts for approximately 78 percent of the air that we breathe. Guinness & Co. has perfected the use of nitrogen in beer and has led the way in developing innovative ways to replicate the characteristics of draught products in packaged formats.
Guinness Draught in a bottle or can uses the revolutionary Widget technology to duplicate the world-famous taste and mouth feel of Draught Guinness stout. How does it work? During the bottling process, a Widget filled with nitrogen is placed in every can. When the can is filled, pressurized and sealed, the pressure in the can is greater than the pressure outside the can. Consider this: when you blow up a balloon, the pressure inside the balloon is greater than the pressure in the room; when you release the balloon, it will fly around the room until the pressure has been neutralized. The Widget works in the same way.
Once the can of Guinness Draught is opened, the pressure inside the can instantly equates to atmospheric pressure; however, the pressure inside the Widget does not since the gas cannot escape as quickly from the Widget. Similar to the balloon example, the Widget is specially designed to oscillate in the can while releasing the extra pressure. This oscillating motion causes an even breakout of all the natural carbonation and nitrogen throughout the beer, resulting in a smooth, consistent product. This technology has won a multitude of international awards for innovation. Guinness Draught in a can should always be poured into a glass for the best product experience.
I hope that this explanation meets with your satisfaction and now that you realize that you were drinking Guinness Draught, one of the world’s most technologically advanced beers.”
He might have realized that, but I realized that a half-cup of Guinness Draught made one tasty loaf of bread.
While I didn’t have time to visit the Guinness brewery in Dublin last summer, I did admire it on several drive-by’s. I also learned how Arthur Guinness tried his hand at making a new beer with a small percentage of unmalted roasted barley in it, which gave it a characteristically dark ruby color; how he made a small Dublin brewery prosper to become the largest brewer in Ireland by 1833; how he landscaped St. Stephen’s Green and opened it to the public in 1880; and how he was immortalized by James Joyce in Ulysses. To read more, check out The Search for God and Guinness: A Biography of the Beer That Changed the World, by Stephen Mansfield, and Guinness, by Peter Walsh (Irish Heritage Series #32).