Finding truth in legend
A Review of Guinness Draught by Guinness Ltd.
Posted on 5/29/2014 by Chops
There are several legends in the craft beer world that get perpetuated over and over by beer fans. One of the most popular is that a pint of Guinness tastes better in Ireland. This tale actually serves many educational purposes, the most obvious of which is that beer is a living thing that changes based on a variety of factors. Location is a huge factor, one that anyone who has experienced a fresh weizen in Germany can attest to. The Guinness tale gets told so often that I decided it was time to find out for myself. And so, BrewChief went to Ireland. I'm a skeptic by default, but I'm here to tell you, this particular beer legend is absolutely true.

In the magical land of Dublin (i.e. beer geek Disneyland), I was surrounded by authentic Irish reds and dry stouts. The first Guinness I had was actually at the O'Shea's Merchant, a hotel-pub combo that served as my residence for several days. The first thing I noticed was that bartenders in Dublin take their time to pour Guinness in a proper manner, which involves a specially designed nitro tap. They fill the glass to about 80%, allow the pint settle for a minute, then lightly top it off before serving. Long lines be damned, this is how it's done. It was an interesting departure from American standards, which are usually ''fill, serve, next'' as quickly as possible. I stared at my first Ireland Guinness, took a long leisurely sip, and immediately came to one inescapable conclusion.

Guinness in Ireland does, in fact, taste better.

It actually tastes much better. This can be attributed to a variety of factors; export preservatives, mass-production quirks, regional processing, bottle shock, you name it. Guinness is brewed in over 150 countries and one of the biggest exporters is Nigeria. Of course there are going to be unavoidable nuances. But in the homeland where everything is fresh, original, and served appropriately, it's a much better brew than you find stateside (or any side for that matter).

Every beer fan knows the core traits of Guinness. But in Ireland, the beer becomes a little more honed and complex. It has a near black appearance that is actually a deep ruby red. It comes with that familiar thick, creamy, tan nitro head. The aroma greets you as a mild mixture of roasted barley and coffee. The flavor consists of a malty sweetness, a mild coffee roast, some dark chocolate, and a hint of caramel. The hop profile is mild, balanced, and compliments the roast with a dry bitterness. The body is creamy smooth and easy on the palate, but is always a tad watery for the style. The beer exits clean with a mild roasted aftertaste.

Sounds like a damn good version, yes? I never have that experience back home in the states. The combination of bad presentation and export woes always leaves me with the best of a bad situation. Guinness at home is decent, and along with Smithwick's, are often relegated to reliable safety nets among a glut of piss water ''beers''. Guinness stateside tends to have a mineral-like or metallic under bite, which is usually associated with mass-produced garbage beer. Draught versions especially will often have a very watery body and overly simplistic flavor, almost like they are being brewed specifically to cater to America's bargain basement beer culture. It's an odd disconnection.

Guinness in Ireland is a beer I can actually recommend to anyone. However, I must reiterate that this beer review is of that specific situation. Guinness tasted great everywhere in Dublin, be it in The Temple Bar, the Brazen Head, my own hotel, and especially at the Guinness Storehouse itself. Dublin really is a magical place and Guinness is a huge part of the culture. And when you are fortunate enough to enjoy a pint as a local, it's easy to see why.

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Guinness Draught by Guinness Ltd.
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