Guinness Extra Stout

Review Date 10/3/2000  Last Updated   3/17/2020   By John Staradumsky

My goodness. My Guinness. Ok, I didn't make that up. But I wish I had. It was actually a slogan used by the brewery to sell its beer, one of many over the years. "Guinness is Good For You" is another one that I particularly like. Beer good for health? Perish the thought in this country, but the Europeans, with a variety of cultures that far predate Hollywood and McDonalds, know better. Doctors in Ireland have been known to prescribe Guinness to pregnant mothers, in moderation of course.

It is a common misconception that Guinness is higher in alcohol content than many beers. In fact, it is lower than many. Guinness draws its strength and flavor from the use of roasted malt and barley, not from additional fermentation. A whopping 48 percent of beer sold in Ireland is stout, mostly Guinness but also some brewed by rivals Murphy's and Beamish.

Tonight I'm sampling bottled Guinness Extra Stout, which I actually prefer over draft or canned Guinness. Draft Guinness is smoother and less bitter than the bottled version, slightly sour, and served with a thick creamy head via a nitrogen tap pour. Pub Draught Guinness, complete with nitrogen-dispensing widget, emulates the draught version fairly well.

Guinness Extra Stout is jet black in color with a generous tan cauliflower head and a rich chocolate-pudding nose. The palate is packed with rich dark chocolate flavors, more of the pudding notes, a rich coffeeish character, and an intense roasty bitter finish which lingers on the tongue leaving a burnt toffee sensation.

Would you believe I didn't like this beer the first time I tried it? I didn't. Stout is an acquired taste, and I recall to this day my beer moment of that first Guinness. I was sitting in my car on my lunch break from work, a young man in my early twenties enjoying a beer. At the time, I was convinced somebody at the brewery wasn't paying attention and badly burned a batch. Where was quality control that day? Surely, they let one slip by. Today I know better, and of course now I love the stuff.

I can think of no better combination than bottled Guinness and fried oysters. This is a classic pairing that I have enjoyed on numerous occasions. The pungent shellfish and roasty beer work together perfectly.

Guinness produces a rare (at least here in the United States) and delightful Foreign Extra Stout, which you should definitely try, if you get the chance.

Recently, Guinness released a bottled equivalent of its Pub Draught canned product, complete with widget inside. Curiously, the bottle suggests you pop the cap and drink straight from the bottle. Why would they want you to do this?

In utter defiance, I pour mine into a glass and watch the murky, silky bubbles slowly rise to the top to form a creamy tan head. The nose is enticing, a tad coffee like. The palate is delightful, creamy smooth and wonderfully reminiscent of a freshly poured pint. There are hints of chocolate, strong suggestions of roasted barley, and a creamy smooth, slightly roasty bitter finish. Exceptional!

Go and buy some. Now. Or else.

Update 3/17/2020: It wouldn't be St. Patrick's Day without Guinness now would it? A bomber bottle of Extra Stout sells at Publix for the amazingly low price of $2.49 (at least that's what I paid). Smooth, creamy, roasty bitter and delicious, just the thing after the traditional meal of corned beef and cabbage.

And remember, try a new beer today, and drink outside the box.

*Pricing data accurate at time of review or latest update. For reference only, based on actual price paid by reviewer.