What Is the Ball in My Guinness Beer Can? Impress Your Friends!


Guinness is far from its humble Irish beginnings, as it is now consumed worldwide. While this dark stout is familiar to folks everywhere, there are still a few mysteries surrounding this drink. One of the biggest mysteries is surrounding the round ball inside of your can of Guinness.

Have you ever gotten to the bottom of your Guinness and wondered, “What is the ball in my beer can?” Well, today, you find out. This article answers that question and gives fun tips on drinking this famous stout.

What Is the Ball in my Guinness Beer Can?

You’ll notice a small object rattling around the bottom of Guinness beer cans. That object, which looks like a ball, is called a “widget.” This ball looks like a ping pong ball, is hollow, and has a tiny hole.

This ball keeps your Guinness fresh, so it tastes like it was just canned – or better, straight from the tap. Let’s find out how it works.

How Does the Guinness Widget Work?

The Guinness widget keeps your Guinness fresh by using nitrogen. 

Most breweries use carbon dioxide to give the beer its characteristic fizz, but using this technique would transform the flavor and smoothness of Guinness. So they came up with another method. 

During the canning process at the brewery, the Guinness brewers add pressurized nitrogen to the brew, which trickles into the hole along with a little bit of beer. From there, the can is pressurized. Once you open the can, the pressure in the can drops.

The widget is full of nitrogen. Once you open your can, it dispenses tiny nitrogen bubbles that give Guinness its smoothness and creaminess.

Guinness cans have used this floating widget technique for decades and have become known for the smoothness of the stout and the iconic little ball. It’s so good that several other breweries have started using the technique for their brews. So today, you may find a small ball in more drinks than Guinness!

Now that you understand the ball in the bottom of your Guinness cans, you should also know how to get the perfect pour. Let’s talk about how to pour Guinness from a beer can. 

Full glass of Guinness beer on wooden table in bar

How to Get the Perfect Guinness Pour

Your Guinness is only as good as your pour. In fact, the process of pouring Guinness is considered an art form to some, with Guinness themselves saying it takes six steps and 119.5 seconds to achieve the perfect pour. 

It’s easy to get a great pour on draft at a bar, but it can be challenging at home when you’re pouring from a can and don’t have to count the seconds to do it.

Here are some easy steps to getting the perfect pour for your Guinness.

  1. Start with a clean, chilled glass. A chilled glass will keep your beer colder, longer. It’s even better if you can use proper Guinness glasses. 
  2. Open your can on a flat surface, and wait five seconds for the nitrogen to release into your drink. This part is crucial to achieving a smooth and creamy beer.
  3. Now comes the pour. Tilt your glass at a 45-degree angle and slowly pour your beer.
  4. Once the stout is about two inches from the rim, straighten your glass and finish pouring the rest of your beer. 
  5. Enjoy your creamy Guinness!
Cold can of Guinness beer with condensation on black background

Guinness Fun Facts

Now you know what the ball in your beer can is and how to get the perfect pour. But there are several other interesting facts about your favorite Irish beer. Here are just a few:

  • While Guinness usually looks black, the beer is actually ruby red. Next time you pour, try holding it up to the light!
  • Guinness draught is suitable for many dietary restrictions and, as of 2017, is a vegan stout.
  • If you want to switch up your Guinness, try making a Black Velvet, a combination of dark beer and champagne. 
  • Ireland isn’t the biggest consumer of Guinness. It’s actually Great Britain, followed by Nigeria.

Wrap-Up: The Solved Mystery of the Guinness Ball

Hopefully, you can continue enjoying your favorite dark beer by understanding exactly how the ball in the bottom of Guinness beer cans works. Now during your next night out, you can impress your friends with your new Guinness fun facts!

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