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Everything You Never Wanted to Know About Guinness Stout

FAQs

Q: I've seen Guinness sold in Germany even when the Reinheitsgebot applied to imported beers. How can that be?

A: "In line with the German Purity Law, the barley is replaced with pale and roasted malt in Continental Europe." (MJBC p 181)

Q: What types of Guinness are there?

A: MJ states 5 or 6 main types in 19 variations. So far, we've been able to identify (Detailed specifications are listed in the last section of this FAQ): 

Draught Guinness (Ireland, NA), is smooth full-bodied and creamy. Despite its body, it is a rather mild beer (OG 1039, 3.4% abw, 4.2% abv). This beer is pasteurized. There are many local variations of this product. The canned Pub Draught Guinness using the draught-flow system is a packaged version of this beer. (Note: I have been challenged from several quarters for saying that Irish draught Guinness is pasteurized. The above assertion is contained in Michael Jackson's Beer Companion. Quoting from page 182, first column, last paragraph in the column: "Draught Guinness for the Irish and American markets ... (specs omitted) ... is flash pasteurized." Until someone can prove me wrong, the statement above will stand.) 

Bottle Conditioned Guinness (Ireland) had similar specifications to the Draught Guinness, but the presence of the yeast provides for a "...spicier, fruitier, drier, more complex and lively, fresh character." (MJBC, 182) 

Bottled Guinness (Britain) has similar specifications to the above two beers, but it is pasteurized. 

All Malt Guinness (Continental Europe) is available both draught and bottled. It is slightly stronger and also has a little more of the characteristic stout bite. 

Guinness Extra Stout/Guinness Original (bottled, available widely) is stronger with even more stout bite. MJ reports this to be 4.8% abw, 6.0% abv, but one poster says that in advertising from Guinness Imports, the strength is listed as 5.6%. This product is licensed for production widely around the world. 

There is a strong bottled version (Belgium and others) that is somewhat sweeter and stronger (7.5% abv) 

Foreign Extra Stout (primarily tropical countries) is also about 7.5% abv. However, this is blend of Guinness's, included one aged for three months. 

In Nigeria, which bans barley, Guinness is made from sorghum. 

Q: Why does the bottled Guinness taste so different than the draught or canned "draught-flow" product?

A: (U.S./Canada answer): These are two entirely different beers. The bottled Guinness is Guinness Extra Stout, while the others are simply Guinness. The Extra Stout uses more roast barley and has somewhat higher IBUs, resulting in a harsher, sharper flavor. Which you prefer is a matter of personal taste.

(Ireland answer): The bottled product is bottle conditioned, meaning the presence of live yeast. The yeast gives it a very different character.

Q: What's the significance of the harp symbol on Guinness products?

A: Arthur Guinness & Sons deliberately chose the harp symbol as its logo or symbol to appeal to nationalist pride in Ireland. The harp is also a symbol of Ireland., which appears on the back of their coinage. The Irish Government and Guinness versions of the symbol are identical, except for the fact that the Guinness Harp faces left, while the official government version faces right.

The following is un-substantiated, but interesting and supplied by Antony Courtney Antony.Courtney@cs.tcd.ie: " At Trinity College Dublin, a complementary glass of Guinness is served with Commons, the traditional evening meal for Scholars and Fellows of the College (and other paying guests), served in the Dining Hall. 

The Guinness for Commons is provided to College Catering free of charge by Guinness. The long-standing folklore explanation around the Commons table is that this was due to an arrangement reached between Guinness and Trinity College Dublin in the 17th Century. According to the explanation, Trinity allowed Guinness to use the harp which appears in the Trinity coat of arms as part of their logo, and in return Guinness agreed to provide free Guinness for Commons in perpetuity. (Note that this is unsubstantiated rumor, but one which has been around for quite some time.)" 

Q: What products besides the various Guinnesses does Guinness produce?

A: Arthur Guinness & Sons also own Smithwicks (pronounced without the "w"), also sold as Kilkenny. Rumor has it that the Kilkenny name is used to make the ale sound more Irish in some markets. Others have suggested that the Smithwick's name had been trademarked in some markets. 

Guinness also owns Harp Lager and Macardles ales. In England they also market "Guinness Draft Bitter" which uses the same draught-flow system and Guinness stout.

Q: Is there anything I need to know when I go into a pub for a Guinness?

A: You don't "go into a pub for a Guinness" A bird doesn't fly with one wing! You always have two! 

Q: What do the numbers on the Guinness labels mean and why isn't there a set of numbers on the Pub Draught cans?

A: We are still looking into this, but we believe there are license numbers for the different styles of Guinness. 

Ernest H. Joynt, III ejoynt@whoi.edu offered the following information: 

Guinness Extra Stout (purchased in the US) L/A1 821212 
Guinness Foreign Extra Stout (made in Trinidad) L/AU 771712 
Guinness Special Export Stout (8.0% abv, made in Dublin) A/RM 571012 

The letters and numbers preceding the six-digit number are actually written with the first letter over the other two. For example, the Guinness Extra Stout is "L over A1". 

The Pub Draught Guinness does not have this type of numbering on the can. We do not know why. 

Q: Is the Guinness family still involved with the Guinness company?

A: The family still has a large financial stake in Arthur Guinness & Son PLC, but have not been directly involved in the management since 1992.

Q: Why are there so many Irish pubs springing up?

A: Well, there are two types of people in this world: Those who are Irish, and those who want to be!

In fact, Guinness has set up a business that will totally outfit an "Irish Pub" for a would-be publican. All the publican has to do is provide the site. In Germany, there are new Irish pubs opening weekly.

Q: Someone told me that Guinness intentionally added sour Guinness to their beers. Is that true?

A: Yes, part of the process is to blend in some specially soured Guinness. The following was extracted from the Homebrew Digest. I believe the original author was Martin Lodahl, but I may be mistaken: "...they have a series of huge oaken tuns dating back to the days before Arthur Guinness bought the brewery, which they still use as fermentors for a fraction of the beer. The tuns have an endemic population of Brettanomyces, lactic acid bacteria and Lord knows what else, and beer fermented in it sours emphatically. They pasteurize this and blend small quantities of it with beer fermented in more modern vessels."

Q: I've heard that Guinness contains oysters. Is that true?

A: No. At one time, oyster shell may have been used as finings to rid the beer of unwanted solids, but this was not in this century, and may not have ever been done by Guinness. There are oyster stouts that contain oyster, oyster extracts, etc.

Q: Doesn't Guinness contain oatmeal?

A: No. It is a rather common misconception that Guinness (and all other stouts) contain oatmeal. Oatmeal Stout is a distinctive style stout. The revivalist of this style was Samuel Smith's Brewery in Yorkshire, England, at the request of its North American agent, Merchant du Vin of Seattle.

Q: How does one spell Guinness?

A: Never! That's a waste of nectar! Oh, Sorry. I thought you said "spill".

Guinness is spelled exactly as you see in the question -- two "N's", two "S's" and a "U" before the "I". The "G" is always capitalized out of reverence. Unfortunately, it is misspelled in the index of the 1991 Pocket Guide to Beer (only one "N").

Q: Doesn't Guinness contain {insert name of animal} {insert your favorite word for urine}?

A: No. It is not part of the formulation, and there is virtually no opportunity for this to happen by chance. 

Hello Jamie
just had a wee thought. 
I've heard several expressions used to describe a pint of Guinness

...a blonde in a black dress

...a parish priest

thought it might be interesting if a list were compiled of all the colorful
ways used to denote this drink
cheers David

 


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