Top 10 Guinness Pours in Tucson Revealed!

Mick Zano

Tucson is an interesting town. I immediately got a sense of the local color here, which is beige. All color in Arizona, local or otherwise, is some derivative of beige. Upon pulling into town I was greeted by a man yelling out of his car window, “Pick a lane, asshole!” and I thought, “Wow, I’m home.”

In comparison, Phoenix is akin to some giant retirement community. I think over the years all the freaks were driven south and I mean that lovingly (the under-cactus railroad?). After only a short time wandering the streets I decided it was time for a follow up to my Best Guinness in Vegas Revealed feature, as a bartender from The Hut explained, “Tucson takes its beer seriously.”

But first an important cultural observation:

Nearly every couple in Tucson had a homeless/mentally ill panhandler following them. It’s as if everyone had already paired off, into threes, or as Arizona calls it: the Jan Brewer Model. I eventually found a nice free couple and started babbling to them about ancient aliens, the Rothschild family and alternate street parking. They seemed appreciative and I made a fast buck.

Ground Rules:

I don’t rate on the six Guinness pouring principles. I rate on taste and taste alone, and I am not going to mention those establishments that didn’t make the cut, because that would be completely Maloneyious of me. So without further a-brew, onto our Guinness winners (in reverse order).

Number 10: O’Malley’s

Drinkable, but let’s move on, shall we? Had I had more time in this town, this one would have likely been dropped faster than some psychedelics with Hunter S. Thompson at the Fremont Experience.

Number 9: The Shanty

Fourth Street Tucson has a variety of cool enough sounding bars, but unless you like country and western, or Coors and Budweiser, keep moving. The closest bar on Fourth Street to my hotel, however, The Shanty, poured a decent pint of Guinness. The place allegedly has a pool table and a nice patio, but I was only able to find one of these. (Hint: don’t try shoot pool on their patio. They hate that.)

The Shanty, giant moai

Number 8: The Hut

This place spared no expense having a giant mo’ai transported all the way from Easter Island. That’s dedication. It’s a great tribute to Guinness, as I believe the mo’ai acquired the original Guinness recipe from the leprechaun’s after storming St. James’s Gate during the Alamo. Did I mention I failed history?

Anyway, The Hut is a great beach-bar-themed joint and they pour a pretty darn good Guinness.

Number 7: The Hotel Congress

Whereas I love this hotel, I didn’t have any hope for a winner here. The bartender poured my pint in about 11-seconds (and not into an imperial pint).

“Because our Guinness pours go to 11!”

—Nigel

Being quick on the draw is important in the old west, but not so much when we’re talking about a proper Guinness pour. Despite this fact, it was a surprisingly good. It reminded of the Orlean’s in Vegas. Full story here. Beginner’s luck? A fresh keg, perhaps? Not sure but it was only one staircase away from my room and any hotel with four bars in the lobby gets a Zano four star rating. Coincidence? No.

Number 6: Mulligans

This joint is not downtown, but it wasn’t too far from my conference so I decided to venture Guinnessward. Sure beats going to a conference. As the barkeep poured my drink, I thought, wow, she’s letting this Guinness settle nicely and then I realized, wow, she just forgot to top me off and abandoned my drink entirely!

So I eventually walked back over to claim my beverage and then her cohort, in charge of table deliveries, proceeded to spill half the foam onto my seat. It was like the passing of the baton—near the end of an Irish barcrawl. This method may work well in porn, but not so much during a Guinness judging contest. I kid the help. The Guinness was tasty…well, the part I didn’t sit in.

On a side note:

If this is my boss reading this, I went to the conference.

If this is my probation officer reading this, I wasn’t drinking.

Number 5: The Red Garter

The Red Garter is the kind of place I spent most of my undergraduate work frequenting. The Guinness was poured into a pint glass, not an imperial pint, but it was still a force to be reckoned with. I later heard the Red Garter is always steep competition each year at the perfect pint competition.

But Are They Sithing the Point?
Imperial Guiness Darth Vader
WTF? Even Lucas’s Imperial pints aren’t imperial!

Number 4: The World Beer Market

I ran into Kiva somewhere and she suggested I hit her alma mater, the World Beer Market. The World Beer Market was an arduous journey from my hotel room, aka, across the street. The pour there was very creamy and it tasted like a winner, but there was a bitterness that began soon after the initial sips, a bitterness that kept this puppy from the medal round. I’ve had this happen before, but I’m not bitter about it. It was still a damn good pint.

giant palm

Number 3: The Frog & Firkin

This is the view from my Guinness, well, were I to fall from my chair and pass out on my back—which, incidentally, I did while snapping this picture. Nothing says Guinness like palm trees, well, if you’re an idiot. The Frog & Firkin has a great draft selection and it’s a wonderful place to enjoy a great pint. Kudos! This establishment earned its medal round status. These last three are all winners. Mmmmm Guinness!

Number 2: The Auld Dubliner

The sister bar of this Tucson pub scored 4th in my Vegas Top 10 feature, here, so I kind of figured it would be a contender. I do like the layout of the Lake Las Vegas Auld Dubliner better. This place has the football cranking and was set up more for the college students over at nearby U of A.

Key point: People should really consider my needs when opening businesses. It’s amazing how often this doesn’t seem to be the case. This can likely be attributed to their keen desire to stay open.

To Clint’s credit, though, he beat out his Las Vegas brethren. I have been to the Auld Dubliner in Vegas several times but I think his pint is a step better. On a related brewery note, Clint talked me into trying an Iron Maiden ale, a limited edition type thing:

Maiden Beer

It’s a good beer, but as far as novelty UK beers go, Monty Python’s Holy Ale wins that contest.

“All right, we’ll call it a draw.”

—The Black Knight

Oh, and this very beer helped me catch a ghost in my haunted Hotel Congress feature, here. Onward to our winner. Come, Patsy!

Bumsteds!! Bumsteds!! Bumsteds!!!

Number 1: Bumsteds!! Bumsteds!! Bumsteds!!!

Doesn’t that beer look good? I want to head over there and get another one, right now! The beer depicted in this picture wasn’t the winner. I went back to tell Andrew the good news and he bought me a pint, which gives me a diabolical idea…hmmm. No, I wouldn’t do that…well…maybe. This pour was truly one step above the competition. Bumsteds is hidden deep amidst Tucson’s Fourth Street rabble, but I had gotten a tip they poured a mean Guinness and it turned out to be the hot tip of the trip.

Congrats Andrew! In the immortal words of Douglas MacArthur, “In war there is no substitute for victory!”

No wait, the other one, “I shall return!” In fact, maybe next weekend.

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