Guinness Review Favorite Irish beer recommended any time of the year STORY by Jeff Stites It’s St. Patrick’s Day Month and I’m writing about Guinness. Sorry, but if you don’t understand why and completely agree, you might as well stop reading now.
This is as much a love letter as a review. I’m a huge Guinness fan. If you aren’t yet, give it a try. Don’t be afraid of the color, beer isn’t supposed to be transparent. And don’t assume that because it’s dark it’s “heavy.” In truth, Guinness Draught (and it’s pronounced “draft” by the way), is one of the lightest beers you’ll find. It has an alcohol content similar to American mass-produced light beers like Miller, Bud and Coors, it has fewer calories than even most “light” beers, and it is actually so truly light that it will float atop about any other liquid, from other beers to even Champagne. That’s called a Velvet Hammer, by the way, and I don’t recommend it. For years Guinness used “Guinness Is Good For You” as a company slogan, and while that can’t be scientifically proven, I hardily believe it. Anyhow, since Guinness is Irish and we all like to think of ourselves as Irish this time of year, let’s dive into the Guinness goodness. Guinness Draught Stout 4.2% ABV The Label Says: Upon opening, the famous round plastic widget in every can unleashes nitrogen through the beer, creating the creamy head and iconic surge that’s distinctly Guinness. My Take: What follows that label blurb is detailed instructions on how to pour your Guinness Draught correctly. Pay attention and whatever you do, don’t drink this from the can like a savage. We are civilized folk, remember. This is the Guinness folk’s best attempt at recreating their pride and joy….the draught Guinness pint. It isn’t perfect. I can’t put my finger on why but it just doesn’t quite measure up to Guinness poured from a proper tap in a proper pub. But until I install a proper pub in my house, and mark my words, someday I will, this is a very passable substitute. Guinness Original 4.2% ABV The Label Says: Guinness Original is inspired by Arthur Guinness’ original stout recipe, first introduced in Dublin around 1800 as a premium porter. Still sold today in the UK and now available in the United States, this brew delivers a rounded flavor of bitter and sweet with a dry finish. My Take: At only 4.2% abv, this is pretty much in line with your big American light beers, but it tastes oh so much better. This is perfect for social situations where you need to stay on your game, for nights where you plan to drink more than a few beers, or just about any other time. It doesn’t pack the powerful flavors of some of the beers to follow, but it is malty with balanced bitterness and sweetness and it tasted the way Arthur Guinness intended, which means quite a bit. It’s also a great choice for cooking as it makes a fine addition to soups and stews. Guinness Foreign Extra Stout 7.5% ABV The Label Says: Foreign Extra Stout is brewed with generous hops and roasted barley for a full-flavored taste of dark chocolate, dried fruits and caramel. Originally developed for global export from Ireland, the addition of extra hops ensured this stout would always arrive in perfect condition. My Take: This is one of the heartiest of the Guinness Family of beers. As the brewer’s description mentioned, this beer was made to ship all over the world at time when sailing ships and voyages were often measured in weeks. Both the roasted malt that gives the beer its very dark color and the addition of extra hops serve to mask the degradation of the beer that can happen under extended time in the tropical heat. As an aside, this is where the term IPA comes from as well. IPA is an abbreviation of India Pale Ale which was the English Pale Ale shipped to the British colony of India. It was hopped more than the domestic version for the same reasons as the Guinness export. But what this leaves us, in the much more climate controlled and fossil fuel-powered 21st century, is a beer that is chock full of all the deliciousness that makes beer great. It’s got hops, like the IPAs, but the malt isn’t overpowered by the bitterness. Rather everything is in perfect balance. Granted, it’s not what most would choose after a sweaty afternoon mowing the lawn, but as beers go, this one is hard to beat. Guinness 200th Anniversary Export Stout 6% ABV The Label Says: This year marks the 200th anniversary of the first Guinness export from Ireland to the U.S. To commemorate this momentous occasion we brewed this beer, inspired by entries from our 1817 brewing logs. In 1817 Guinness was using Black Patent malt to give its stouts their deep dark black color. This new brew is complex and smooth with balance of roast and sweet chocolate malt. My Take: Just as dark (if not even darker) but sweeter and with a lower alcohol content than the Guinness Export, this special edition brew is almost as perfect. At only 6% abv, this one is the perfect after lawn mowing beer. Guinness Antwerpen Stout 8% ABV The Label Says: This 8% ABV stout has long been a secret pleasure among beer connoisseurs and indeed our own brewers, who value the mouth-watering intensity of roasted malt, smoked wood and dark chocolate notes, not to mention its excellent and seemingly endless finish. Since 1944 we have been exclusively exporting this same special stout from Ireland into Belgium through the vibrant port of Antwerp. This is the first time we’re making it available for general release in America. My Take: First of all, this is the most fun beer name to say ever in the history of beer names. Antwerpen. Go ahead, say it out loud. Antwerpen. It’s awesome isn’t it? Now wait til you try this beer. Be forewarned, though, this isn’t a beer for amateurs or new beer drinkers or those who consider Bud Light to be beer. Antwerpen is, to sound a bit beer snobby for a minute, very complex. It doesn’t so much blend flavors as just send all of them packing onto your tongue at one to fight it out. And the brewery’s description is correct, the finish lasts forever. And I’m still a bit sad when it’s over.