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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Finishing with a classic!

After 29 dark liquid days we have come to the end of stout month. Before we go though two final looks.

Someday I will have one in Dublin.
Our first review is of a classic. For most people in the world it is the first beer they will think of when they here the words “stout beer.” I am of course referring to Guinness. I don’t think you can do a stout month and not look at the biggest one in the world. 

Memory is a tricky thing because this was not as dry as I remembered; years of dark beer drinking have blended and faded my memories of past Guinness stouts. Truth be told I was never that big of a fan of Guinness, as I mentioned earlier this month I preferred Mackesons XXX Stout.

This particular model was the Foreign Extra Stout and it poured clear and very, very dark brown tinged with red and had a light tan head. The head stuck around for awhile, if I would have poured hard it may have stuck around for the entire glass. The drink it self has little carbonation, and a light coffee, malty taste. On the first drink it all came rushing back, particularly the characteristic Guinness slightly sweet aftertaste. It occurred to me I worked through the glass that the aftertaste actually sets up the next swig of beer and I was enjoying this more than when I started the glass.  

While the color is very dark and could lead to expectations of a heavy beer, you would be mistaken. This is rather light in body though it does pack a solid punch coming in at 7.5% ABV. The alcohol is well camouflaged though, making for a pleasant drinking experience.

I can see why this is one of the most popular beers in the world, it has enough characteristic to differentiate itself from others and honestly, it is a decent brew. It is not too heavy and it tastes good. It can be both an effective gateway to other stouts but there is enough allure that I can understand how this could also become somebody’s favorite beer. The end result is you can’t really go wrong with a Guinness but for veteran stout drinkers this may come up a bit short. 

For those keeping track at home this is a book beer and can be found on page 702.

The foil adds a nice touch of flair!
Our other candidate is Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout. A product of England, this beer poured clear and very dark brown with a light tan head. I poured it hard so the head stuck around for a while.  

On the drink this was very smooth, with minimal carbonation. It has a light chocolate malt taste followed by a pleasant and slightly sweet aftertaste that dissipates of the palette relatively quickly. Like the Guinness, while dark it is fairly light in body. Alcohol content comes in at 5% ABV and really I was hard pressed to taste the alcohol. Overall you could easily tip a few pints of this for an enjoyable evening.

Overall I would recommend this beer as a very accessible gateway to the joys of drinking dark, stout beers. It is an easy drinker but that should not take away from the fact that this is a fine crafted beer that has enough complexity to captivate both rookies and seasoned pros.

Here is the “party lines” on the Guinness and the Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout.

Foreign Extra Stout is brewed with generous hops and roasted barley for a bittersweet balance & full-flavored, natural bite. Developed over 200 years ago for global export from Ireland, the addition of extra hops ensured this Stout would arrive to its destination in perfect condition.

“Brewed with well water (the original well at the Old Brewery, sunk in 1758, is still in use, with the hard well water being drawn from 85 feet underground); fermented in ‘stone Yorkshire squares’ to create an almost opaque, wonderfully silky and smooth textured ale with a complex medium dry palate and bittersweet finish

Look for our stout month recap later this week where we will go through what we liked, what surprised us, and what disappointed us. 

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