I shan’t be drinking green tinted beer this St. Patrick’s Day; that’s a travesty that, thankfully, hasn’t made it over to Blighty.
I’ll be drinking to the health of St Patrick, with a glass (or two) of Stout.
Whenever Ireland and Stout are mentioned, the first brew that comes to mind is Guinness, which hails from Dublin, but is, of course, now brewed in some fifty countries worldwide.
The original home of Guinness Stout is the St. James’s Gate brewery in Dublin. Indeed Lee Salawich visited the St James’s Gate Brewery back in 2011 and wrote about it for The Brewclub here.
It occurred to me, while writing this post, that I’ve never visited the Guinness brewery. That’s something I plan to remedy this May; of course that means a weekend in Dublin, which is no hardship!
Recently Guinness have established a ‘pilot’ brewery within the hallowed grounds of St James’s Gate, and it is from that pilot brewery that this review’s brews hail. Much like Adnams, Shepherd Neame, and Truemans, the guys at Guinness have trawled back through Brewers’ diaries (in this case from the 18th and 19th centuries) to source authentic recipes.
The first of today’s brews is ‘Guinness Dublin Porter’ which can be traced back to an entry in the brewers’ diaries from 1796. That pre-dates the ‘retro’ brews from Adnams, ‘Sheps‘ and Truemans by around a hundred years.
Let’s put 1796 into some sort of context, in 1796 there were just fifteen stars on the star spangled banner, and George Washington was still President, at least until November when John Adams was elected.
Let’s get drinking!
Guinness Dublin Porter 3.8% ABV
Dublin Porter is brewed to 3.8% ABV, which is on the weak side for a porter, London porters of that period were brewed to over 6% ABV.
It pours, as you might expect, very dark, bible black with a foaming, off-white, head that fades slowly, leaving a generous lacing down the glass as it fades.
There’s not too much nose, mostly burnt toast and maybe a hint of vanilla.
The flavour is, frankly disappointing, as is the body of the beer. It’s a light to medium-bodied brew, and the flavour is more of the burnt toast, but also slightly metallic.
This feels more like a dark lager than a Porter, and there are better Porters and dark lagers ‘out there’.
Frankly, I won’t be buying this again. I’ll give it just two Brewclub Stars.
Let’s hope the West Indies Porter is a little more impressive.
Guinness West Indies Porter 6% ABV
Guinness claim that their West Indies Porter is based on an 1801 diary entry that described the first Guinness ‘purposely brewed to maintain its freshness, on long sea voyages to the Caribbean and beyond’.
Much like the principle behind India Pale Ale, the beer was brewed to be stronger, and with more hops; hops, of course having preservative qualities.
This one pours equally dark, with an even fuller, latte coloured head. More head, more lacing. And more nose, this time we have roasted coffee and the merest hint of milk – latte again.
And the flavour is, again, more. It’s more full bodied than the Dublin Porter, with richer, roast coffee, caramel and cream flavours. Backed with a well veiled 6% ABV; it tastes by no means potent, but pleasing nonetheless.
I’m happy to give this three Brewclub Stars.
I tried these two brews one evening, alongside Shepherd Neame’s Double Stout, and overall, I’m afraid to say, the ‘Sheps’ won the night.
So, I will indeed be drinking St Patrick’s health, but with an English Stout, not an Irish one.
I know that might sound like heresy, but as The Brewclub’s tag line reads “It’s all about the Beer”.
To Saint Patrick!