Beer: Guinness Draught
Brewery: Guinness & Co. (Dublin, Ireland)
Style: Irish Dry Stout
Alcohol: 4.2% ABV
You gotta hand it to the folks at Guinness & Co. They know their marketing. The first thing most beer drinkers think of when you say the word “stout” is Guinness, that black liquid with the thick, foamy head that people often describe as “a meal in a glass.”
When I had my first sip of Guinness, I was in my early twenties and it was St. Patrick’s Day. I was in an Irish pub in Whitby, Ontario. I remember the night clearly, in part because it was great fun and in part because it’s one of the few times I actually went to a pub with a friend who is no longer with us. As a fizzy yellow lager drinker at the time (with an occasional Rickard’s Red), I didn’t know what to make of this black, seemingly viscous substance, and in the end I decided it tasted like a rubber tire.
Fast-forward a few years, and I tried it again, only to have a completely different experience. Since then, I’ve consumed countless pints in pubs and poured several cans into glasses, each time marveling at the widget’s nitrogen release. So let’s say I’m probably a little biased going into this review.
This review is based on the canned version of Guinness found throughout Canada, which comes in a 440mL can with a widget that blasts out the nitrogen. It pours black and opaque with a thick, foamy tan head. The cascading effect as it settles is one of the key things the Guinness marketers latched onto, and even though there are other beers that have the cascading effect (many of them, in fact), it’s Guinness people will often think of when they think of this type of settling. Overall, it fits the appearance of an Irish dry stout pretty well. And few beers have the lacing on the side of the glass that accompanies Guinness.
The Guinness aroma is moderate, with the dark malts dancing lightly on your nostrils. Hops are non-existent, and really, there could be a lot more aroma to Guinness. The aroma is a little weak compared to many of the stouts on the market.
Beer drinkers often describe Guinness as “chewy” or “a meal in a glass,” making assumptions based on the nitrogen-infused head and the beer’s opaque nature that it’s a thick, viscous beer. It’s far from the truth, though. As a stout, Guinness is actually a little thin, and if you can ignore the creamy head, you’ll find Guinness is no more big-bodied than most of the standards. Only the head is creamy, but it’s a beautiful illusion that mystifies the average beer drinker.
As Irish dry stouts go, Guinness is the one that others are measured against, but the beer is not without its flaws. Its aroma is a little light, but more incriminating is the thinner body. As I wrote a few paragraphs above, I have a bias. I love this beer, even in spite of its flaws.