Henri cooks with Guinness in celebration of the stout’s 250th birthday

Talk about false advertising! A local retail store, which shall remain nameless, recently advertised “suitcases” at what Henri thought were very reasonable prices. Imagine my disappointment to learn that they weren’t suitcases at all. They were cardboard boxes! Full of cans of beer! Worse yet, watered-down swill not fit for civilized travelers shopping for luggage anyway.

No surprise here: Henri has always considered beer better left to the unwashed, more appropriate for celebrating a touchdown in baseball than discovering, oh, for example, a perfectly good used copy of A Cry From the Heart, the wonderful biography of Edith Piaf—for which I found an unusually fruity pinot noir far better suited.

On the other hand, Henri has fond, if bittersweet, memories of a long-ago summer in Dublin, dating an Aer Lingus flight attendant, and spending many late nights in pubs drinking Guinness Extra Stout. I’ve even visited Chico’s little Irish pub on occasional Friday afternoons, ordered a pint, and, recalling those generally inebriate evenings, listened to the live music until it all started to sound the same—usually about three sips into my libation.

Imagine my surprise, then, to learn recently that this year marks Guinness’ 250th birthday and that the company, founded by Arthur Guinness on Sept. 24, 1759, in Dublin, is not only brewing a special-edition version of the beer but has set aside Sept. 24 as “Arthur’s Day.” Beginning with a toast to Arthur at 17:59 (5:59 p.m.), the exact time he signed the lease on the St. James Gate Brewery, Guinness and the city of Dublin are hosting a wide range of concerts and musical performances at venues throughout the city.

Henri will no doubt raise a pint to Arthur that day—perhaps at the little Irish tavern downtown (Note: locally, with the time change, the toast to Arthur should occur at 9:59 a.m.). But I also plan to celebrate Guinness’ birthday in my cooking this month. Here are a couple of my favorite recipes that use Guinness.

Henri’s Fish in Guinness

This is quick, moist and easy. Use different colored bell peppers for enhanced presentation.

4 white fish filets such as cod, rockfish, halibut, snapper, etc.
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup chopped green onions (white and green parts)
2 or 3 bell peppers, chopped
1/2 small onion, chopped
3 or 4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup fresh basil
1 cup Guinness
3 or 4 fresh limes

Sauté peppers, onion and garlic in oil for 8-10 minutes or until mixture softens. Melt half the butter in small pan or in microwave, and rub the rest inside a glass or ceramic baking dish. Pat the fish filets dry, and place in the baking dish. Top with pepper mixture, green onions and basil. Pour melted butter over the top. Add enough Guinness to reach about halfway up the sides of the filets. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes, or until filets flake with a fork. Place filets on plates, pouring cooking liquid over the top, followed by a squeeze of lime.

Henri’s Pub Burgers with Guinness

For these burgers, I recently used ground bison. The Guinness perfectly moistened the meat, which is dryer and leaner than the beef. Absolutely delicious.

1 lb. ground beef
1/4 cup Guinness
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 or 3 gloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons basil pesto
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Mix all ingredients in medium mixing bowl and form into patties three-quarters of an inch thick. If the meat is too moist and loose to form into patties, try adding a tablespoon of breadcrumbs to each one. Fry or grill over medium-high heat. Serve on toasted sourdough bread with tomato, lettuce and Dijon mustard.

For more recipes that use Guinness (from Rock Oyster Bisque and Irish Soda Bread to Irish Rebel Stew and Pudding with Whiskey), visit