Ohio Area Guinness Representative, Annie Redmond and Chicago Rep Jimmy Callahan, enjoying their dream job!
By Ryanne Gallagher Johnson
In the realm of dream jobs in this country, one for the die-hard lovers and admirers of good beer to consider is as a Brewery Ambassador for Guinness in the U.S.. It’s a full-time job for serious, seasoned beer enthusiasts to help spread love and expertise for the Dublin-based Guinness Brewery.
In the Midwest, stationed as expert for the Great Lakes regions of Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Kentucky, and West Virginia, is Southside Chicagoan Annie Redmond, who has been in her current role for Guinness since May of 2016.
And she earned that ‘Expert’ connotation. “Jimmy Callahan out of Chicago, myself and the rest of the team, actually trained with Peter Simpson, one of the brewers in Guinness, where we got to brew a beer with him. The training was a total immersion in all things Guinness, including a full day with our archivist, Eibhlin Colgan.”
As Ambassador, her job encompasses a good Guinness education, rather than the sales side of things. Because, while Guinness is really good at selling itself, there are a few aspects of the pouring and presentation of a good pint of the Irish beer that can actually change the very taste and experience of it.
“I do a lot of work with staff trainings. I’m sure you’ve seen some poorly poured pints in your day. We really try to stress the importance of why you pour a pint properly,” Annie explains. “We compare it to pubs in Ireland. Pubs in Ireland will hang their hat on how good their pint is. People will walk past six other pubs to get to one that serves a (well-poured) pint.”
The art of the perfectly poured glass of Guinness is based on the nitrogen-to-beer ratio, and how well its flavor is brought out when its handled correctly. There are six steps to a flawless pint: The Glass, The Angle, The Pour, The Settle, The Top Off, and The Presentation. From start to finish, these steps take 119.5 seconds to complete properly. The process is so precise that there are even competitions held for Guinness pouring. A true lover of Guinness should know that it takes a little longer to pour a good pint, and they won’t mind the wait!
On top of training staff and distributors on how to carefully and correctly treat a shipment of Guinness, Annie also does a monthly Guinness Club. “Every month we do a different theme. One month I’ll talk about the history of how the brewery got started. Another we’ll talk about St. Patrick’s Day,” she says.
A large part of Guinness’s history that Annie loves and educates others about is the generosity of the company. “Even from the beginning (the mid-1700’s), they were very good to their employees. Their wages were 30% higher than any other place in Dublin. They had a brewer’s hall, which is basically a mess hall for their workers, where employees could even bring their wives and children so the whole family could be fed. Kids (during that time) would leave school at a very young age to go to work and help support the family, so the idea was that the only way you’re going to raise up your country is if (the children) are educated. By feeding the workers’ families every day, they thought that the kids would stay in school longer. They were also the first company in Europe to offer pensions to their employees. Dublin mothers would tell their daughters, ‘Get yourself a Guinness man.’”
Another aspect to love about the company is their work to create new beers every month. Adjacent to the brewery in Dublin is an open-gate brewery that opened in 1904, where for over 100 years they’ve been doing innovation beers for customers to try. Referred to as the ‘pilot brewery,’ it produces two new beers every month, which visitors can try as part of a flight of four beers, for just 6 Euros. With the creation of each new beer comes a trial period, where they are taste-tested. Some beers are one and done and never see the light of day outside the brewery, some are distributed around Ireland, and the ones that do well are distributed here in the States. One of the recent beers from the pilot brewery is the Rye Pale Ale, which launched here last Christmas.
A fun fact from Ambassador Annie: “Guinness Blond is the only beer that we make that’s actually made in the U.S. A lot of people think that Guinness is made here. That’s a big myth. People think beer is better (tasting) in Ireland, when it’s really not. All the Guinness you get in this country is coming from Dublin… (the only difference might be that) bars here might not treat the Guinness with the respect and care it deserves, and that might make it taste different than in Ireland.”
And a pro-tip for finding the best pints of Guinness in the country? “If you can, find a place that pours their Guinness into a Guinness glass. Most of the bars are putting their beers into shaker pints. Very few places have Guinness glasses, because they’re expensive to get. Like any other beer, Guinness will taste better in the glass it was made for.”
There are currently only nine people in the Brewery Ambassador program in the country. For job postings, you can visit bevforce.com.
“I love working for Guinness. I love the history of it. I love the Irish connection. There’s a Guinness for everyone. It’s very communal.” Ambassador Annie concludes.
The Guinness is great in the Midwest, and one of the people to thank is Annie!