As loyal readers know, I love Ireland, golf in Ireland, and am a member of a club in Ireland, Ballyliffin.
Readers paying attention also know that I love Guinness Stout, which is about as Irish as you get, an unlike Ireland’s great golf, something they actually invented. I wrote the book Getting Into Guinness, about the history of the Guinness World Records book, which was stared by the brewery, then the world’s largest, and I heartily recommend the very cool and extensive tour of the original St. James Gate distillery in Dublin, officially known as the Guinness Storehouse, to any visitor to Dublin.
So when it comes to breaking Guinness news, no one is as interested as me.
Here’s the Scoop:
When my grandfather drank Guinness here in the States, it was not the same stuff we get today, and I am not talking about just an earlier version of the can and bottle without the cool nitrogen capsule. I’m talking a completely different kind of Guinness – Guinness Foreign Extra Stout, foreign presumably because it was shipped overseas. This version of Guinness was pulled from the market during Prohibition and never returned – until now (it has long been sold in other countries). After Prohibition was wisely repealed, they started sending their main product, Guinness Stout, the thing we are familiar with, here and in Ireland (where I actually prefer Guinness Extra Cold).
About two months ago, Guinness once again started producing Foreign Extra Stout for the US market, selling it in 4-bottle packages (About $10). The difference? For one thing, it is much stronger. Guinness has long been both weaker and lower in carbs and calories, despite its heavy taste and appearance, then regular beer, at about 4.2% alcohol by volume. The Foreign stuff really is “extra stout” at a whopping 7.5% ABV, nearly twice as strong. It is also hoppier and traditionally carbonated, without the added nitrogen.
GFES is not a substitute for the original, as it is stronger and bolder, but an alternative. It actually shines with food, whereas I like the good old fashioned Guinness Stout for leisurely sipping over good pub craic.
For those of you who are really, really interested, here is the offical release info straight from the horses mouth, Guinness:
Taste Profile: Big, full-bodied flavor with enormous complexity and character. Strong, roasted aromas followed by a unique bittersweet taste
Appearance: Deep Brown
Ingredients: Malt, Roast Barley, Hops, Yeast, Water
Tasting Notes: The sensation of GUINNESS Foreign Extra Stout astonishes and activates the palate with the taste buds immediately ignited by a deep, rich sweetness of the malted barley. The strong caramel, coffee-like character of the roasted barley and the calm impact of the fragrant hops give an aromatic and sensual effect. The finish is perhaps the most important part of the GUINNESS taste experience ensuring these distinct sensations
History: Brewed for more than two centuries, GUINNESS FES dates back to 1801. Known as West India Porter until the mid nineteenth century, FES was an export beer brewed with extra hops, giving the beer a more intense flavor and higher alcohol strength. The extra hops also acts as a natural preservative for beer, allowing it to survive long journeys overseas.
GUINNESS FES was exported to the U.S. beginning in 1817, but was discontinued in 1920 due to prohibition. The specialty stout will make its return to the U.S. market in October 2010.