Monday, March 9, 2009

Get your Irish on

I've got two new pieces up at Massachusetts Beverage Business's website for March: one's on Irish beer, the other's on Irish whiskey. Two pretty good pieces, if I say so meself. There's also a fun sidebar on Welsh booze in the whiskey piece.

32 comments:

Anonymous said...

lew

just read this article. very informative. i had never heard of penderyn. thougth i would see if it were avail here in PA. the site said no. surprise surprise. i did try to see if they had it at binny's. YES they do. another reason to take a U haul to chicago to pick up souveniers

bob

Lew Bryson said...

Thanks, Bob, I liked this one. But to be fair, if you search the PLCB's product catalog, Penderyn is available at most of the premium collection stores; just checked it myself. Search on "penderyn", then click on the catalog number, then do a "state-wide" search, and you'll get a list, by county, of where you can find it. Cumbersome, but it works.

Bill said...

Looks like Guinness deserves some SBP praise. Chicago's Red Eye newspaper did a piece on comparing Guinness with Beamish, and Beamish came in at 4.2% abv, I think.

The Beer Nut said...

Where did you see Guinness Extra Stout that was stronger than regular Draught Guinness? It's the same ABV here.

And I think Guinness -- a product of Diageo plc, 8 Henrietta Place, London -- is definitely more "Irish" than Irish.

Steven said...

Naw, naw, no, no -- I been to Ireland man, the Guinness is definitely different than it is here!!

Sorry, I just hadda be "that guy" before anyone else! :-)

Of course it's different, yer drinking it in Ireland -- the atmosphere overwhelms!

Lew Bryson said...

What we get here -- Extra Stout -- is supposedly 6% ABV. But I won't argue your other point. Interesting that the two major Irish whiskeys are owned by French and English companies, too.

The Beer Nut said...

Yes, well we've always done a good line in tragedy 'round here :)

Incidentally, we do have a new 100% Irish-owned distillery coming on stream soon, from the owners of the largest 100% Irish-owned brewery: the Porterhouse. Though of course it'll take three years after distilling gets under way for them to bring their first whiskey to market.

Steven said...

"Where did you see Guinness Extra Stout that was stronger than regular Draught Guinness? It's the same ABV here."

Is it, seriously? Then what makes it "Extra?"

Lew's correct, the Extra Stout we're served here in the US (the one that is brewed in Canada, IIRC) is higher than the Draught, 7.5% ABV.

Looking around the web, I see that our label is the "Foreign" Extra Stout, whereas the Ireland & UK label is just Extra Stout. Though it looks like the "Original" version (sheesh -- how many are there?) is up around 6% (compared to 4.2 in the Draught).

The Beer Nut said...

"Extra Stout" is short for "Extra Stout Porter" -- a stronger version of the porter they stopped making in the 1970s. Guinness Extra Stout has existed a lot longer than the abomination that is Draught Guinness and which (d)evolved from it. Extra was the default Guinness for most of the brewery's existence, contrary to what the nitropeddlers currently in charge would like you to believe.

Foreign Extra Stout -- 7.5% ABV -- is a totally different drink (well, it's probably the same high-gravity crap as the Draught and Extra watered down slightly less).

So, Diageo Ireland brew:

- Extra Stout (4.2% - bottle),
- Foreign Extra Stout (7.5% - bottle) and
- Special Export Stout (8% - bottle).
All of these are different beers. If Lew was referring to Foreign Extra when he said Extra, then this is not the closest non-nitro version of Draught Guinness (4.2% - keg, can, bottle), Extra is.

There is no 6% ABV Guinness in Ireland. This is likely to be either the high-gravity Extra Stout brewed in Dublin but diluted differently, or a totally separate beer made in Canada for the North American market. The latter scenario (which is what I thought too) would mean that Diageo Dana lied to Lew about where they make the stuff.

There are loads more types of Guinness around the world. The Caribbean version is different again, and the Nigerian version is made with sorghum rather than barley.

Lew Bryson said...

The beer we get labeled Extra Stout is indeed brewed under license in Canada. That's not the beer we were discussing when she made the statement: “All the Guinness sold in the UK, Ireland and North America is brewed in Ireland at the historic St. James’s Gate Brewery in Dublin.” The truth is, sales of draft Guinness Stout so far outweigh sales of the bottled Extra Stout that when even people who should know better -- me, and Dana, for instance -- say "Guinness" over here, that's what we really mean: the draft Stout. If apologies are in order, they'd be from me for not being as extremely precise as I could have been.

However, comparing the Guinnesses you have in the Irish market to the Guinnesses we have in the American market is, at best, pointless, particularly given the company's (whichever company) long-time penchant for making different versions for different markets.

The Beer Nut said...

I think that's exactly the point: Diageo -- like all globalised companies, I guess -- have this agenda to prove that their product is exactly the same all over the world. While pasteurised, high-gravity-brewed, nitrokeg Draught Guinness certainly seems to be, I think it's fun (and educational) to look at all the local variants.

Despite the best efforts of the macrobrewers, the world of beer is not yet totally homogenised.

Lew Bryson said...

Given the wide use of 'Guinness extract,' the malt coloring product similar to Weyermann's Sinamar, that's no surprise. I'm not acting as a Diageo apologist. Just don't want this twisted mess to get any more tangled than it needs to be!

ReDave said...

Good 'ol irish fight!

Steven said...

First of all, this is no donnybrook -- it's great, educating discussion on a fine subject! No waves to be made.

Second, I completely understood Lew's distinctions, but then we've only ever had 2 (2.5?) kinds of Guinness over here -- Draught (actually tapped and canned/bottled) & Extra Stout (now labeled Foreign Extra, and I can't recall if it always was).

I wish I'd sought out the Extra while in Ireland, would love to try it.

But to my sources for ABV (okay, it was BA -- I admit it, there - yeh happy?), they show separate Extra Stouts for Ireland and the UK; one at 6% (Original), the other at 5% (UK).

Perhaps this is dated info from the days of a Guinness brewery in England? I'd have to defer to BeerNut, he's the one down the block from the current source.

maibock said...

Enjoyed the Guinness article - quite informative. I'm still a bit confused between the distinction of porters and stouts, but I agree, one doesn't need to be thinking about such things.

Speaking of a donnybrook, mind if I ask how Victory's Donnybrook compares to Guinness?

The Beer Nut said...

If Foreign Extra was ever called Extra, that's definitely an American special. As ever, Ron Pattinson is the expert here. He mentions that the two beers had the same gravity from their introduction in the early 19th century until 1917. Extra dropped and fluctuated through the mid-twentieth century -- but Foreign Extra was always the strong one, and is pretty much a living fossil as far as beers go. Kegged Draught Guinness didn't exist until 1959 -- before that there was Extra on cask, an urban rarity in Ireland at least. My grandfather drank his stout from bottles.

It could be that Park Royal was making Guinness at 5% and 6% sometime recently, but the little Ron that sits on my shoulder would prefer better evidence than Beer Advocate, and the big Ron has all Extra Stout under 5% since 1954.

Jeff Alworth said...

Lew, great article on Irish whiskeys. They're among the most drinkable liquors in the world, for my money, and as you note, not well-known or appreciated. I've been emailing it around all morning.

The Beer Nut said...

Maibock, as far as Guinness is concerned, Stout was the stronger version of their Porter; Porter was the weaker version of their Stout. That's pretty much it.

Lew Bryson said...

I really think we're talking more about an American labelling issue here, more than anything else. The bottled Guinness Extra Stout we've had here for years -- first from Ireland, then from Canada...8 years ago? -- was and is 6%. If it's changed its labeling to Foreign Extra Stout, that's news to me, Steve. There is, of course, plenty of confident bullshit spread about Guinness, so you'll find a lot of that. Hell, I may well be misinformed myself.

Steven said...

"If it's changed its labeling to Foreign Extra Stout, that's news to me, Steve."

Well, now I might just have to go look for a bottle. Where might I find one these days... oh yeah, St. Pat's is next week! ;-)

Steven said...

Once again Lew is right, and I've been duped by my failing memory.

The Guinness we have is "Extra Stout." No foreign-ness involved. And the label reads, "Product of Canada," but no mention of alcohol percentage (yes, I ran down to the local store).

But just as Lew, I've always heard and read that this brew is higher ABV than the Draught -- tastes different (over here) too; much more rich and roasted in its malt character than the Draught. Less water in the mix? Can't say.

Oh, and here's a little sumthin' on Guinness in N. America I'd been looking for that our friend Jess provided at one time:
http://jesskidden.googlepages.com/guinnessinamerica

Bill said...

The bottles of the non-nitro Guinness I bought on Friday in the Chicago burbs still say Extra Stout, not Foreign Extra Stout. Don't know if that clears or muddies...

Hey, 250 years! Woo-hoo!!!

The Beer Nut said...

I love that letter, Steven! Guinness ("Incorporated in England") turning on the schmaltz like a tap. As if there was any such thing as Guinness Stout in 1759...

Bill said...

Ah, yes, the US now has three Guinnesses -- the Draught, from Dublin; the Extra Stout, from Canada, a bit stronger and still with that mildly sour tang that I associate with Guinness and rarely find in the Draught; and now Guinness Foreign Extra Stout, which is stronger than the Extra. Could this be the rumored Guinness that was sold in the Mediterranean? Or did they see that larger abv beers do well here and make this just for the US?

The Beer Nut said...

Bill, Guinness has been making Foreign Extra to roughly the current 7.5% ABV since at least the 1820s -- a wee bit before the American market became interested in strong beers. It's most popular today in Africa and the Caribbean. As I mentioned (via Ron) above, it wasn't a stronger beer than the Extra Stout until 1917 when Extra dropped its ABV.

I've been told that the tang in Foreign Extra comes from a blast of Brett it gets at some point in the process, though these days it's as likely to be an artificial Brett flavour.

Tell me more about "the rumored Guinness that was sold in the Mediterranean". I've never heard of that.

I'd really recommend that anyone interested in this stuff go an read Ron on Guinness, and the gravity tables in particular. It's a mine of information.

Steven said...

"and now Guinness Foreign Extra Stout, which is stronger than the Extra."

Bill, I've yet to see that on any shelves here in the US, where did you spot it?

BeerNut -- Schmaltz was the cornerstone of marketing in 1950s USA! ;-)

Steven said...

-- a wee bit before the American market became interested in strong beers."

While that's all true, I think what Bill was alluding to is that the US hasn't seen the Foreign Extra in all this time.

If it's really available these days, I want... no, I need to try some!

The Beer Nut said...

Well, just to show off, Guinness Special Export is much better than Foreign Extra. Special Export is 8% ABV and contract-brewed for John Martin's in Belgium. Even though it's made in Dublin, we have to buy it here as an expensive import. It's fuller and smoother than the Foreign Extra.

Bill said...

Steven -- Guinness' US website now has Foreign Extra as on of the three Guinnesses available. I haven't seen it on shelves yet.

BeerNut -- folks who vacationed in Bermuda or Jamaica or some such would come back and talk about this massively strong Guinness called Foreign Extra Stout. It was never available in the U.S. My question was rhetorical, and wondering if the U.S. new FES was the stuff found in the islands and I guess elsewhere, or something brewed just for the U.S. even as it shares a name with something available elsewhere.

The Beer Nut said...

Ah. You meant Caribbean rather than Mediterranean. Gotcha. Well, as I said, Foreign Extra has long been popular in Africa and the Carribbean. It could well be that it's now being distributed to the US from the brewery in Jamaica. Jamaican Foreign Extra is particularly sweet compared to the Nigerian and Irish versions, I'm told.

Steven said...

"Guinness' US website now has Foreign Extra as on of the three Guinnesses available."

Sweeet! Eyes peeled.

Mediterranean, Caribbean, what's an Atlantic Ocean between beers? ;-)

Bill said...

My mistake!