Guinness 250 Anniversary Stout
Arthur Guinness signed the lease for his famous brewery at St. James's Gate way back in 1759, and they've been cranking out the beloved beer ever since. They are celebrating that longevity this year by releasing a special 250th Anniversary Stout. It's only a limited release, so there's not the whole new Coke versus old Coke controversy to worry the traditionalists. The Black Stuff will still be offered, with any luck, forevermore. My only quibble, and it's slight, is why bother tinkering with the stout recipe for this release? That has proven itself to be nearly perfected – just ask any self-respecting Irishman. Besides, one of the first beers they released was an ale. It would have made more sense to celebrate by offering that again. Or, the other early offering, a porter.
The good news is, the Anniversary Stout is not at all bad. If it were anybody but Guinness brewing it, it would be a decent addition to the stout options on the shelf. But, it would never do as a replacement for their original stout – not even the Guinness Draught version that we have to settle for in the States.
The first thing to note is that this beer isn't 'nitrogenated' like the Draught. No need to bother with the fancy pours, or look for the beautiful tumbling, tiny bubbles. This stout is just typically carbonated and pours like any other beer. The head is still slightly off-white, but the larger bubbles give it a less-creamy look. Other than that, the appearance is much the same. The aroma, too, is similar, except for the surprise introduction of a few extra hops.
Those hops are most evident in the flavor. This 250 version has a crisp little edge that the original lacks. Most of the rest of the old Guinness flavors are still in this thing, but those extra hops give it a refreshing bite and balance out some of the malt. There's a lighter feel, despite there being a touch more alcohol. If you equate smoothness with creaminess, then this version sacrifices a bit of that for what they are calling the extra 'zing' of the hops. Still, it's a fine beer that goes down especially well in the summer. Just different enough to call it special, but familiar enough to keep the old Guinness drinkers happy.
Most people would never think the original stout is heavy, even though something about it tends to scare some people. The color, maybe, but probably just ignorance. Just walk into any Irish pub and it's obvious that Guinness is a session beer. This one is even more of the same in that regard. Neither gets in the way of any food you may want to nibble on during your session, but Guinness stout is all about getting plenty of beer down your neck. It's for sitting about with the old friends and telling the stories, then singing along when the songs start. It's a good times, fun-in-the-pub style beer. The beer snobs will tell you there are better tasting, better this, better that, style beers out there. Non-beer drinkers will still be afraid of the stouts, and stick to their watery rubbish. There are beers that pair much more precisely with particular food but, for just hanging out with friends or making new ones, Guinness is the stuff.
So, the Anniversary Stout is certainly worth a go. If you're an old, dyed-in-the-wool Guinness drinker, it won't make you want to switch, but you'll like it well enough. If you're new to Guinness and have been leary of it till now, or were one of the ones who thought that the extra stout version was what everybody was on about all this time, this might be the time to give it a try. The extra hops might appeal to you. For me, the 250 is just not different enough from the original. If I want a Guinness, the original is still the one I'm going to grab every time. I'm just hoping for the 251st anniversary, they come out with a nice, proper Irish ale. Then, it might be time to celebrate.