On December 31, 1759, Arthur Guinness signed a 9000 year lease for an abandoned brewery in Dublin at the rate of £45 per year. That was the beginning of the now-massive Guinness brand, and it was all headquartered at the St. James Gate brewery, now one of Ireland’s most popular tourist destinations.
To celebrate the 250th anniversary of the signing of that lease, Guinness has released a special version of their namesake stout in the US, Australia and Singapore. The brew, which will only be available for a limited time, should be available at stores everywhere.
So… how is it? Honestly, it’s a bit disappointing. I expected something… big, something unusual from such a momentous event. In the end, all I got was a stout that tasted something like “Guinness Lite”. It’s significantly lighter than regular Guinness, and whatever “bitter” flavor that normally exists in the stout has been cut down significantly. Oh, and it totally lacks the creamy head that Guinness is known for! (see pic below)
A more complimentary name might be “Summertime Guinness”, as this would be a great beer to pound on a hot afternoon, being much “lighter” in feel than regular Guinness. For what it’s worth, my friend Geoff says that the beer tastes lighter because Guinness uses CO2 and not nitrogen to carbonate this particular stout. I have no reason to doubt the guy, but I still don’t know if that’s true. It’s not a bad beer, it’s just not Guinness.
I don’t know if you’ve been keeping up with the Guinness brand at all, but Diageo (the brand’s parent company) has started releasing all sorts of different “novelty beers” in the UK and Ireland. There’s “Guinness Red”, which uses less toasted barley and is a nice red color. And then there’s Guinness’s Brite Lager, Guinness’s Brite Ale, Guinness Light, Guinness XXX Extra Strong Stout, Guinness Cream Stout, Guinness Gold, Guinness Pilsner, Guinness Breó, all of which have failed. There was even the “Guinness Surger”, a metal plate (like one of those USB coffee warmer things) that sends ultrasonic waves through the stout, mimicking the draught experience; although the device was considered “laughably useless” and quickly withdrawn in the UK, it’s somewhat popular in Japan, where bars don’t often have enough room for taps and kegs.
When will Guinness learn that we just like plain, old-fashioned Guinness?
For what it’s worth, Lisa liked it, and she normally doesn’t care for beer at all. That might actually be a good sign in this case.