Stout OFF!!!

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A St. P’s Day Special @PGA by Ken Carman

  Two of the most popular stouts in the world. Years ago I had Murphy’s and I wasn’t impressed. OK, to be fair I was in a bar in Ellicotville, NY and two people I had met were trying to get me drunk: they succeeded. So my “comparison” may not have been fair. Years later: still long ago in a different craft beer universe from now, I compared them at Seanachies: a sadly past tense Irish restaurant on lower Broadway in Nashville. Now it’s a honky tonk. Yeah, like we really needed another one of those. Barf.
  I still preferred the Guinness. Caveat: they were both on tap, these were canned with the widget.
So probably 10 years later my palate has changed and I was very surprised… Continue reading “Stout OFF!!!”

The History of Stout

Black and almost impenetrable by light, stout has a deep history rooted in Europe. Most notably recognized across the world as a cascading pint of Guinness, stout is eternally linked to the famous brewery from St James Gate, Dublin.

beer-history1In 1759, Arthur Guinness signed a 9,000 year lease on an obsolete brewery with just a handful of years under his belt as a brewer. At the time Ireland was under English rule, and imported English beers were taxed far less heavily than local Irish beers. Guinness held out until the tax laws were changed, giving him a fair chance at both the Irish market and the overseas trade. He then acquired a skilled porter brewer from London and soon was exporting Guinness Export Porter in the 1800s to as far away as the Caribbean.

Stout is a descendent of Porter. In the late 18th Century brewers began brewing a heartier version called stout porter. After time the word “porter” was left behind and the beer simply became known as stout. In 1817, Daniel Wheeler, created his patented roasting machine that allowed complete control of roasting malts and barley to create the distinct high roast of the beers to come. Capitalizing on this new invention Guinness started using the uniquely high roasted malts in their beers to create the famous espresso-like character that sets their beers apart. While Guinness was highly successful, it soon gathered competition from Beamish, Crawford, and most notably Murphy’s.

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Beer Profile: Guiness Extra Stout

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Profiled by Maria Devan and Ken Carman for PGA

Maria

This beer pours out thin and black but if held to the light you can see a dark brown hue. A fat loose head of tan foam that fell slowly to a film, then a small ring and left lace that was not permanent.

Nose is malty and grassy. Sweet malt , light toast, light caramel and grassy hops. Then some dark fruits evolve. Prune and a bit of something grapey and quite sweet. Taste follows the nose all the way except the first thing to greet your palate is metallic.

The malt is a bit awkward and husky but you begin to enjoy it, as a robust, the more you drink. The dark fruits are light and at first the prune is sour but that gives way to this grapey sweetness. Mouthfeel is light and has a nice dryness to the mid palate. Finishes a touch bitter and with that grass over top of a light caramel.

For a stout this was crisp and mild. With a bit of hop presence this is an easy drinking stout that gives some light toast and a touch of caramel to a bit of dark fruits and finishes a bit tame but altogether pleasant.

Ken

It’s always interesting to review a beer after someone else does, and I must admit Maria is better, nose-wise, than I am in many ways. And my hesitation: driven by my desire to be fair as a judge, to mention fruits except an occasional “like,” because I feel that unfair to any entries that may actually have plum etc. in them also gets in my way.

So the only thing I will comment regrading her review is the “metallic” may be the roasted barley, which is required for a stout and I believe more present as the versions of stout Guinness brews get stronger.

So here we go… nose: I just judged Murphy’s v. Guinness Daught/Dry. This is more complex with a very distinct sour to the nose, roasted barley and some chocolate: dark. Pale malt and deep roast since seems complex.

Nice big bubble, small bubble and creamy tan head. No light shines through, but the light in my place is pretty dim and I am without flashlight right now. Obsidian. On my sample the head lingered for quite a while. Of course head, as well as surface tension of the liquid itself, can be affected by the glass you pour it into. It also must be noted that even Guinness Extra is still not a heavy bodied beer, though more so than the Dry, mouthfeel-wise.

Some folks get “dry,” or “drying,” when roasted barley is used. I don’t, unless over used. This isn’t over, in my opinion. It’s not problematic either way, just a perception driven by that often stout-specific add.

The roasted barley is strong on the palate and could be mistaken for metallic. Medium on the light side of body. Carbonation low but bites on the inner cheeks pleasantly. Slight bitter but no hop flavor noted. As it warms the body seems to express itself a tad more.Some sense of chocolate driven by the malt, but the roasted barley is more the star here, backed up by that Guinness, classic, slight sour.

To me this is everything Guinness Draught should be. You have the malt. It’s not a heavy quaff, but an interesting one. There’s slight carbonation that lifts the roasted barley and the pale malt to prominence. It does fill the mouth without having a heavy or even heavier side of medium body. Slight sweet behind assertive roasted barley and pale malt.

I can get the fruit/plum and caramel notes Maria did, but as my readers know I say there’s a vast difference. Some brews actually have them as adjuncts, and I have no desire to confuse folks into thinking any brew has actual “plum” in it when it doesn’t. Usually I’d say “plum-like” at best. But that’s just me. Plenty of BJCP judges higher ranked than me love to use these descriptives and the tasting portion of the test, well, use them and you might do better. Especially the more you use specific fruits.I can also get “grassy,” though to me this is less “grassy,” and more a slight sour sense. This would be expected since they sour some Guinness and then add it back in.

I’m guessing Maria would give it a high three on the PGA scale, mine would be more a 4.3.

Welcome to the PGA beer rating system: one beer “Don’t bother.” Two: Eh, if someone gives it to you, drink. Three: very good, go ahead and seek it out, but be aware there is at least one problem. Four: seek it out. Five: pretty much “perfecto.”

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Maria

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Ken

Ancient Irish Ale

beer-historyMartynCornellIt was a tough life being a king in ancient Ireland. The Irish poetic epic called “the Cattle Raid of Cooley” describes the typical day of King Conor Mac Nessa, the legendary ruler of Ulster around the end of the first century A.D. King Conor, the poet said, would spend a third of the day watching the youths at sport (the ancient equivalent of tuning into the football on television); a third playing fidchell, a popular Iron Age board game; and the last third of the day drinking ale – coirm or cuirm in Old Irish – “until he falls asleep therefrom.”

Cuirm comes from the same root as the curmi mentioned by the Roman writer Pliny, about A.D. 60, as a drink made from barley and consumed by the Celtic Gauls. At some point the “m” in curmi changed to “v,” and when the Romans adopted the Gaulish practise of ale drinking they called it cervesia in Latin, from which the Spanish word cerveza is derived. Coirm, as well as meaning ale, also meant a drinking party or feasting, and coirm agus ceol was the Irish for feasting and singing.

Another Irish word for ale was scó, which occurs in the old Irish expression scó scethach, used for beer that was off, and meaning literally “vomiting ale,” or “vomit-inducing ale.” Under ancient Irish law, if anyone served scó scethach to his guests he could be sued for the consequences. (Incidentally, the modern Irish for beer, lionn, was originally a word for any sort of liquor.)

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On Tap: The Top 10 Irish Beers

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Ireland is full of traditional and new breweries alike, and while it’s become famous for one style of beer – the Irish Dry Stout – there are plenty of other options to be had. That said, this list is reflective of what Irish beer is really all about.

If you’re looking for new twists on Irish beers, or perhaps Irish beers brewed in the United States, you might be interested in my St. Patrick’s Day article from last year.

10. Porterhouse Brewing Company Oyster Stout

Established in 1996, Porterhouse has become Ireland’s largest independent brewery after getting it’s start in the pubs of Ireland. While not all oyster stouts actually use oysters in the brewing process – some are just commonly served with oysters – Porterhouse’s does, as oysters are used in the conditioning tanks. The result is a very subtle oyster flavor that makes the beer slightly different from the traditional Irish stout.
9. Franciscan Well Shandon Stout

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Heineken and Sam Adams Boycott St. Patrick’s Day Parades

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beer-news10Two of the country’s biggest beer companies are withdrawing their sponsorships of upcoming St. Patrick’s Day parades because gay and lesbian groups aren’t allowed to march openly.

“We believe in equality for all,” a Heineken USA spokeswoman said.

Sam Adams said it had tried to convince Boston’s parade organizers to modify their rules and allow LGBT groups to march.

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