Archive for the 'Guinness' category
With Saint Patrick’s Day upon us, I thought this would be a great time to review Guinness Foreign Extra Stout (FES), which hit American shores six or so months back. Instead of a flat-out review however, I will be comparing the FES with Guinness Draught (i.e. the can with a widget in it) and Extra Stout (ES).
The three contestants sit in front of me poured into two Imperial Pint glasses (the FES and Draught) and one shaker pint (ES), because unfortunately my third Imperial Pint shattered a long time ago. Visually the beers are rather similar. All are black bodied with some variation of tan-colored head. The FES has the darkest head of the three with the ES a tick or two lighter and the Draught considerably lighter, bordering on white. As for head consistency, the Draught has nitrogen, so it’s in a league of its own, however FES and ES are very similar, being full of large air bubbles, giving the heads a rocky structure. As the heads of the FES and ES recede, at a similar pace, intricate lacing is left down the glasses.
The nose of the three beers is quite different. ES has a prune, raisin, and earthy hop aroma to it. FES hits the nose with a roasted, slightly smokey, mingling of chocolate and coffee, a light touch of sourness (after the beer warms), and a hint of alcohol. The Draught lacks any real distinct aromatic qualities. Maybe a light grain, but certainly nothing compared to the other two beers.
As for the taste and mouthfeel, FES is a mix of the ES and Draught. It has the bolder flavor of the ES, but a mouthfeel that is smooth and goes down easy, similar to the Draught. Though both FES and ES are bold in taste, the taste itself is quite different. The FES has an enjoyable chocolate malt character that envelopes the mouth. I do not notice any coffee notes, as mentioned in the aroma, but I do notice a subtle sourness, and a tweak of alcohol in the finish. The ES on the other hand is a bit bitter and quite earthy, especially in the finish. The malt character is there but rather indistinct, with the aforementioned earthy quality taking all the lime light. The Draught… well that just goes down. A “light malt roast” is what I could label the taste but compared to the FES or ES it really does not amount too much.
The FES’ 7.5% abv is something to watch out for, especially when compared to the Draught’s 4.2%, but overall the FES is a great addition to the Guinness line-up, with great flavor and drinkability.
Side Note: Martyn Cornell (i.e. author of Amber Gold & Black … buy the book) has an interesting blog post about the difference between African and Ireland brewed FES. The post made me wonder where the American version of FES comes from. Anyone with an answer?
Two-hundred fifty years is a long time. Sure there are older breweries, but 250 years is still a big accomplishment. For making it 250 years Guinness has released a celebratory beer. The “standard” Guinness recipe has been slightly tweaked for this limited release. With this in mind I thought I would do a side by side comparison of the regular Guinness and the 250 celebratory Guinness. One major difference between the two, the 250 is not nitrogen infused. This means no “Guinness style” head. It also means the mouthfeel will be different. Keeping these things in mind, lets delve into the beers.
Both poured black (a very dark shade of ruby when held directly to the light), with the 250 having a slightly darker tan head, which disappeared to a thin covering after mere minutes. In the nose the 250 had a roasted character, while the regular Guinness leaned a bit smokier. Both had the traditional “Guinness smell” (its probably malt but for me Guinness has always had a particular, enticing, smell to it) with the 250 also possessing a hint of toffee.
In the mouth the slightly different aroma characteristics play out in the taste. The 250 is a bit roastier in the mouth, while the first sips of the regular Guinness are a bit ash-like in nature. The regular Guinness beats the 250 in the mouthfeel department, but it had the unfair nitrogen advantage. There was however nothing wrong with the 250′s lighter mouth presence.
I was not expecting a massive recipe change for the 250, and there was not one. If you can find the beer (and I do not believe it is that hard to find), it would not make a bad purchase. To celebrate Guinness’ 250 year I would not go out of my way to purchase their celebratory brew. A traditional Guinness will do just fine. Its what got the brewery this far anyway.
Happy St. Paddy’s Day!
Today, for your enjoyment, we’ll be enjoying the finest Irish Stouts from around the land. The land of Ireland, I mean. First up is the old standard, Guinness Irish Stout.
The pour of the Guinness, as expected, is viscous and dark with a caramel head that retains quite well. The aroma is mildly sweet and malty with hints of dark chocolate. The chocolate isn’t terribly pronounced, and neither is the trademark coffee flavor that I enjoy in a Stout. Rather, the taste is just a mild combination of all of these flavors – chocolate, coffee, some malt. It’s a good beer, but not a fabulous Stout, if you were to ask me. Which you didn’t. -Ben
The Guinness was quite a surprise. I had probably not had a true Guinness (minus the Car-Bomb version) in a year or two. I was surprised to find that the Guinness is much less than I remembered, and in actuality, I liked it more than I remembered. I remembered the Guinness as a harsh, hard-to-drink beer, but was pleasantly surprised to find that it was not as heavy as I remembered and appears (at the first drink) to be readily drinkable. There is a light mouthfeel and a creaminess throughout the tasting and flavors of chocolate are present during the entire tasting. All in all, I was very happy that I tried the Guinness again and feel that it is quite a good beer. Perhaps not as “stouty” as I would like (or remembered) but it definitely deserves to retain its place of distinction in Ireland. -Jon