In our first summer in Toronto, Lisa and I walked up to a bar called Fitzgerald on Queen East. Without knowing so, it happened to be “open mike night” upstairs and next thing I knew I was on stage playing ”The comfort Song”, one of my composition, then my own bluesy version of Staying Alive by the Bee Gees. I had no guitar, no intention to play and no preparation whatsoever. Turns out I scored okay. As an artist, I felt like it was one of my worst performance ever, a feeling I’ve come to be use to, yet the audience really seemed to enjoy the tunes. What mattered the most that night was that I hadn’t been on stage in a while and after my set, when I sat down next to Lisa who, let’s face it, has a trained ear for good performance, she re-assured me that I sounded fine. To this day, I know you lied to me baby but that’s okay. I ordered a Guinness beer, listened to the other artists do their thing and enjoyed the rest of the evening without playing back my set over and over in my head.
My Guinness Draught (widget) beer review is an homage to that evening.
Guinness… enough said? A proven staple in the beer world? The Chairman of the board of Stout? Or is it dated? Is it dépassée? I’ll let you decide for yourself with a few suggestions.
Here is the thing, Once upon a time, here in Canada anyways, macro brewers like Labatt and Molson were the kings of the beer trade. You wanted a beer, you ordered a Labatt Blue, a Labatt 50 (my Dad’s favorite), a Molson Ex or an O’Keefe. But there was a few beers that were different; Black Label, Corona and Guinness. These beers, amongst another handful, were pretty much as ”exotic” as beer got. Now with the whole global village thing, an overall appreciation for beer and brewing it, the market for beer has mushroomed and flooded many beer-store shelves all over. Guinness was not only the only thing we knew when it came to imports, but anyone who ordered it came across as a connoisseur. Now Stouts and Porters from all over the world are giving Guinness a run for its money.
I must have had this beer a hundred times and frankly, most times on tap, so when I sat behind my computer to write this review, I was confused. I tried tasting Guinness on tap “again for the first time” through the canned version with its clever widget but cutting through my preconceived notion was difficult and in all honesty, I now had many new bench marks to compare a canned or bottled stout too. The tap version is so much richer and tastier, so how could all this be, even a canned version of a Guinness should kinda rock! So I did what I do from time to time, I validated my not so good opinion of Guinness Draught by peaking at other reputable beer blogs that I have come to appreciate and respect. Guess what folks, my opinion of Guinness Draught was right. Many of my peers also seem to think that Guinness Draught is not worthy of a high score. One beer blogger even suggested; “what happened to my Guinness?” Infact, even the Original (Extra Stout) didn’t hold that high a mark. The brand got old and is now competing with brewers that have come to understand more things about brewing a stout.
So on with the review… Pouring this beer in a glass is where the excitement is. Everything after that is a bore. Watching the foam accumulate from the bottom up and catching the aromas of coffee and chocolate is always pleasant. There is no doubt in my mind that pouring a Guinness is ceremonial.
The first sip disappoints right away. It feels like someone wanted to save money and added water to 2/3rd of the can. The watery feeling has bitch-slapped the creaminess out of the picture and left behind a toned down root beer product with little hints of hop, coffee and roast but that’s it. The widget (the little ball inside the can which helps stimulate a draft -tap- feel) does a good job for the foaming but it seems as though the main focus was lost. Taste! Overall, the draught is a disappointment at many levels; words like muted, toned down, weak, waiting for a kick… all confirmed and validated my skepticism regarding my negative observation. Could I have been wrong? Who am I to bring down what many would think of as the pinnacle of Stouts? Well, I’m a consumer baby, that’s who I am! A consumer with decent beer knowledge and bench mark to compare it too and that bench mark makes Guinness Draught look like the Budweiser of Stouts. Maybe the Irish would disagree but a stout should never be a session beer anyways. Blasphemous.
As I write this, to complete the review on Guinness the way I want, will require that I write an additional post, which I promise to complete sometime in May. Look for it for I’ll touch base on Guinness’ Extra Stout and Guinness’ Foreign Extra. I’ll also write a little bit of history and facts on it…
Meanwhile, if you’re looking for some good porters / stouts, try these… You’ll see what I mean.
Fuller’s London Porter with 5.4% has been named World’s best.
Baltika No6 Porter 7% has been named World’s best Baltic Porter
Rogue’s Mocha porter 5.3%; World’s best flavored porter, and if you’re looking for a stronger beer, go for Harvey’s Imperial Extra Double Stout with 9% but if your loyalty to Guinness still remains, then your best bet is Guinness’ Foreign Extra with 7% which as I mentioned above, I will review on a later post.
Price: $12.95$ / 6x
Beer type: Stout
Country / Region: Ireland