A Few Thoughts about Guinness

Click for guinness productsWith St. Patrick’s Day just around the corner my mind has been turning to the good black stuff. Guinness is a unique beer brand in that it is so connected to both a country and a holiday. No other beer brand comes close in either respect.

Sure, there are a few brands like Corona and Fosters whose marketers have tried to make something of their countries of origin. But even a tagline that we all know like “Australian for beer” can’t approach the relationship between Guinness and Ireland.

As well known and loved as is Guinness I’m surprised at how few of its fans realize that there is more than one sort of Guinness. It’s true. In The Brewmaster’s Table Garret Olive says that there are 19 versions of Guinness. It is brewed in 40 countries and sold in 135!

For most of us there are two main versions of Guinness available. Guinness Draught, the version on tap and responsible for the famous 180 second pour, is probably the first that pops into most beer drinkers head. It is the Guinness with the thick creamy head and served at bars and pubs worldwide. Its flavor is pleasantly dry and coffee like. It feels soft and creamy on the tongue. This is the same recipe as the Guinness Draught-style Stout sold in bottles and cans.

But there’s another bottle, isn’t there. Those shorter Guinness bottles are Foreign Extra Stout. Extra is a completely different recipe and different style of stout. It has a much more assertive flavor, tends to be more carbonated and is higher in alcohol. I’ve never seen Extra on draught; only in those stubby brown bottles.

I enjoy both versions of Guinness. Draught style tends to pair better with food since it’s softer flavor profile doesn’t overwhelm some dishes like Extra does. Draught is also a better session beer since it’s lower in alcohol. But Extra can be very nice, too. Sometimes one wants a stout to slap their taste buds around a bit and Extra is just the beer to do it!

One Comment on "A Few Thoughts about Guinness"

  1. Scott-TheBrewClub March 27, 2009 at 12:38 pm - Reply

    I was also surprised to learn how many places Guinness was made and how many versions there were!

    Apparently, there is even an Irish brewed version called Nigerian Foreign Extra which is brewed to 7.5% ABV. I’ll probably never see that though! I’m not sure if it gets shipped to Nigeria or what, but how interesting!

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