Queen stays off the Guinness

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Queen Elizabeth and her husband Prince Philip resisted the temptation to sup the perfect pint of Guinness on a visit to the Irish cultural icon's home brewery on Wednesday.

The royal couple were given a tour of the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin, one of Ireland's top tourist destinations, as part of the queen's historic first state visit to the Irish Republic.

All eyes were on whether they would get stuck into a jar of the black stuff -- an indelible part of Irish life.

Up in the seventh-floor Gravity Bar, designed to look like the head on a pint, they were shown round the commanding 360-degree views over Dublin.

Master brewer Fergal Murray then took the royal couple through the stages of pouring a perfect pint of the stout, one of the world-famous cultural symbols of Ireland.

Prince Philip, who is known to like a pint of bitter, seemed in his element and asked if it was made with water from Dublin's River Liffey.

"No! Pure and pristine from the hills!" Murray replied, dismissing the "urban myth". The Guinness website says water for the brewery comes from springs in Ireland's Wicklow Mountains.

As Murray placed the perfectly-poured pint on the bar, the prince, who turns 90 next month, fired off a wisecrack which triggered a laugh from the assembled dignitaries.

But would they drink it?

International media watching a live feed roared on the Queen, shouting "Go on! Go on!", then "Oh!" as if the monarch had missed a penalty in the football World Cup final as she walked away from the bar.

Her husband lingered as if he might have a sup, reviving the excitement.

However, he seemed caught in the age-old dilemma of a fresh pint on the bar and the wife leaving, and stuck with duty.

Perhaps it was because it was well before lunchtime and the first engagement on a busy day of symbolic events and visits for the 85-year-old monarch and her husband.

The royal couple were shown one of the company's most important artefacts, its 9,000-year lease that founder Arthur Guinness signed in 1759 for an old, disused and dilapidated brewery at St James's Gate.

Prince Philip asked Guinness's curator: "What kind of mug signs that?"

© 2011 AFP

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