Kegs, pints and stillions


Sir, – Liam Clarke’s letter (October 19th) on the stillion, the cradle on which the beer barrel was placed horizontally behind the bar counter, brought back many happy memories of my days working for Guinness.

I was in the Waterford office in 1965 when the “iron lung”, as the compressed-gas canister method was known, was introduced. Getting used to it was a steep learning curve for some of the publicans.

I remember a very brief letter from one annoyed publican complaining that “the draft do be all fraught”. – Yours, etc,




Sir – My grandfather had a three-barrel stillion in our family pub.

The Guinness was first brought “into condition” by resting the barrel on its side for the night in front of the dying embers of the fire. After positioning on the stillion, the tap was driven through the bung firmly. This operation had to be perfect as too much enthusiasm would split the collar of the bung, and too little wouldn’t drive the tap into the barrel.

My grandfather would then bore a hole in the barrel with a gimlet and fine-tune the pressure with a spile, which was a small wooden peg or spigot.

It made for the perfect creamy pint.

Sláinte. – Yours, etc,