Monday, January 7, 2013

Beer: Guinness Samplings

Guinness is the lynchpin of Irish beer history, with a legacy that goes back hundreds of years. It's also a staple of the whole "stout" style, being likely among the first "dark beers" many of us ever enjoyed. Furthermore, any visit to Ireland begs of the enjoyment of some pints of Guinness. It's that much a part of the culture.

This season, Guinness released a rare seasonal "mix pack" here in America, including 4 of their beers. Here's my breakdown. Note that the review of the Black Lager is re-printed from previous tasting notes. Keep in mind that scores run from 1 (terrible) to 5 (world class). As always, enjoy craft beer and avoid corporate swill!


This standard stout is, for all intents, the flagship beer for Guinness in the states. That said, it's also rather weak by comparison.

The bottle advises to drink in bottle with "rocket widget" inside (for a true "draught experience", so I sipped a little before pouring). Deep-dark black appearance. Very fizzy, creamy head that keeps on bubbling. Malty mild chocolate aroma. Flavor smooth and creamy, with bittersweet cocoa character and herbal undertone. Very thin and watery of body.

Still, this remains smooth and drinkable, if lacking in complexity.


Black Lager is a relatively new addition to the Guinness lineup, and bridges the gap between their traditional stouts and lighter, American-style lagers. It's fair enough, but not a favorite.

Deep and black (as Guinness well should be), this new brew leaves a large but erratic lace on my pint glass. Nose is grainy like most lagers, barely hinting at the flavors to follow. Tastes mildly burnt/roasty - but still light on the body, as opposed to the usual heavier stout. 

Very enjoyable, and though I'd rather sip on a warmed Guinness Foreign Extra Stout, this one hit the spot.


This is another semi-recent addition to the lineup, and is a heavier, stronger version of the usual stout. With a deeper 7.5% ABV, this is among the finer, sturdier drinks in the Guinness "portfolio". I like this one most of all.

Nicely black, with a huge head of tan bubbles. Thin web of spider-web lace. Impressive. Nose seems creamy lactic sweet, even mildly astringent somehow. Not great. Taste is strong, even a little bitter, with flavors of burnt barley and crisp hops present, too. Not your usual Guinness, though it does retain some of the creamy body of the usual Guinness. 

This is a sturdy, strong, and bitter ale that's unique and well-done. I'll be revisiting in the future.


Finally, this limited brew is included only within the Guinness seasonal mix-packs. It's a novelty, but I won't miss it.

Clean ruby-brown upon pouring, with a decent head of off-white foam. Lace is nice but erratic. Nose is roasty barley, with a sweet malty tone -- definitely grains, but with almost a hint of fruit somehow. Not bad. Taste is similar -- roasty and flavorful, yet light in body. There's a definite tinge of bittering hops within the mix, but the roasty malts are most prevalent. 

This is a rich and easy-drinking ale, not great but certainly a nice change from the usual Guinness.

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