It was Friday before work and I had about 15 minutes to kill at the beloved Morris Beer Store. A bit of hubbub centered around the checkout counter as Gail, the Beer Maven chatted with a sales rep and Ashley and the handsome young guy volleyed remarks about his upcoming 21st birthday.
I dropped off the printouts from last week’s reviews and quietly went into my familiar ogling stride up and down the craft beer shelf. I had nothing in mind, nothing special hit me. Then I caught something out of the ordinary in the Guinness section. Bam! It hit me right away. A comment from a reader named fretwalker rang a bell in my cubby-hole cranium:
“Just tried Guinness’ 250th anniversary stout, an exemplary dry Irish stout, best I’ve had from Guinness. Your beloved Morris Liquors should have it!”
My beloved Morris Liq… well how about that? There, in the Guinness section was the new arrival, Guinness 250th Anniversary Stout. I pondered the fact that over the last few weeks I’ve had a number of very dark beers. I thought, “Is this what I’d want to review?” YES. “Is this what the readers want?” I chose YES to that one as well.
To mark the 250th year anniversary of the signing of the lease on St. James’s Gate Brewery by Arthur Guinness, we introduce a special commemorative stout. This premium recipe provides a refreshing taste which underlies the complex flavor of stout.
I grabbed the sixer and paid the $9.99 at the counter.
Saturday was filled with more homebrew preps. Today was the day my son and I transferred his wheat beer from the primary fermenter (carboy) to the secondary fermenter (plastic pail.) During the siphoning he added some freshly thawed, sliced peaches. It will sit in the secondary for another two weeks.
Toward evening there was a flurry of activity out on the driveway as people started showing up. All four of my sons and some their buddies were going to carpool to a Disturbed concert in Chicago. Mom doled out parking places for the vehicles left behind, read them the riot act on how to behave and they left. Peace once again descended on the Manly Garage.
When beer time rolled around, I got to thinking about the new stout. Will it be thick and rich and blow the back of my mouth out? Or will it take me completely by surprise?
The bottle was a bit different. I compared it to a “regular” bottle and the neck of this Guinness bottle was about a half-inch shorter. The bottle’s shoulder however, was at the same height. I opened the bottle, expecting to hear that familiar nitrogen capsule discharging, but there was no noise. Just the Tssst! of the opening of the cap.
Into the glass it went and liquid looked just dark brown, not that oilpan black like the Sam stout. (There was no capsule in the bottle.) The tannish head rose up a 1.5 inches but there was no cascade. So much for the physics show. Let’s have a sniff. The aroma was that of a dark yeasty and malty brewing smell that I’ve gotten familiar with in doing homebrews. Quite pleasant. There were no surprises and nothing came up funny smelling. Let’s taste.
Nice. Nice and smooth. The first sip didn’t hit me with that initial dry bitterness or any overwhelming roasty-toastiness that regular Guinness has. It was more laid back more subdued. Successive tastes brought out the beeriness in the beverage rather than the dark, roastiness of the malt. This beer is lighter in taste than the regular one and goes down quite easily.
I could taste the dark malts in the beer but it wasn’t overwhelming and as I neared the bottom of the first glass, the twinge of sweet caressed my tongue. Man, this is quite enjoyable. But let me go out on a limb here. I’m thinking that because this beer is so smooth and that the bitterness is not so pronounced, it is more akin to porter than to a stout. It wasn’t as heavy as I imagined it to be at the outset. Regardless of what style the beer should be in, let me say again that this is a great beer. Smooth, tasty, rather lightweight and perfectly drinkable.
This Guinness 250 could almost be classified as as the old stout’s skinny cousin. More genteel, not into sports or hard labor but rather into chess, word puzzles and geekery. This Guinness 250th anniversary beer is truly a special concoction. It has a taste worthy of the honour. This is a stout to cut your teeth on, an introduction to the style, if you will. Perfect in all it’s proportions but easier and less radical than the traditional stout.
The Guinnes 250th Anniversary Stout was made available on April 24th and only for a limited time. Make an effeort to pick some up soon.
Special thanks to fretwalker for recommending this superb libation.
Taste: B+ > Lightheavyweight contender for the crown.
Smoothness: A- > Fresh razor in a new shaver.
Drinkability: B+ > Why, yes. I’ll have another, thank you.
Bang for the buck: B- > Worth the price just for the taste experience.
Wife’s all-encompassing opinion: Reeeealy dark, whoa. (sip) Doh! I don’t know what to think. (sip) It’s got a distinctive smell. (sip) You almost get a bitterness but then it goes away. I’m not quite sure what to make of this. (sip) When it’s in my mouth it’s icky but when it goes down it’s really not too bad. (sip) Better than I would have thought being it’s so dark. (Thanks for leaving me some.)