Guinness is a popular Irish dry stout that originated in the brewery of Arthur Guinness (1725–1803) at St. James's Gate, Dublin. Guinness is directly descended from the porter style that originated in London in the early 18th century and is one of the most successful beer brands worldwide.
A distinctive feature is the burnt flavour which is derived from the use of roasted unmalted barley (though this is a relatively modern development since it did not become a part of the grist until well into the 20th century). For many years a portion of aged brew was blended with freshly brewed product to give a sharp lactic flavour (which was a characteristic of the original Porter).
Although the palate of Guinness still features a characteristic "tang", the company has refused to confirm whether this type of blending still occurs. The thick creamy head is the result of the beer being mixed with nitrogen when being poured. It is popular with Irish people both in Ireland and abroad and, in spite of a decline in consumption since 2001, is still the best-selling alcoholic drink in Ireland where Guinness & Co. makes almost €2 billion annually.
Guinness stout is made from water, barley, hops, and brewer's yeast, and is treated with isinglass finings made from fishes' air bladders, although Guinness has claimed that this finings material is unlikely to remain in the finished product. A portion of the barley is roasted to give Guinness its dark colour and characteristic taste. It is pasteurised and filtered. Despite its reputation as a "meal in a glass", Guinness only contains 198 kcal (838 kilojoules) per imperial pint (1460 kJ/l), fewer than skimmed milk or orange juice and most other non-light beers.
Guinness stout is available in a number of variants and strengths, which include:
- Guinness Draught, sold in kegs, widget cans, and bottles: 4.1 to 4.3% alcohol by volume (ABV); the Extra Cold is served through a super cooler at 3.5°C (38.3°F).
- Guinness Original/Extra Stout: 4.2 or 4.3% ABV in Ireland and the rest of Europe, 4.1% in Germany, 4.8% in Namibia and South Africa), 5% in the United States and Canada, and 6% in Australia and Japan.
- Guinness Foreign Extra Stout: 7.5% ABV version sold in Europe, Africa, the Caribbean, Asia, and the United States. The basis is an unfermented but hopped Guinness wort extract shipped from Dublin, which is added to local ingredients and fermented locally. The strength can vary, for example, it is sold at 5% ABV in China, 6.5% ABV in Jamaica and East Africa, 7.5% in the United States, and 8% ABV in Singapore. In Nigeria a proportion of sorghum is used. Foreign Extra Stout is blended with a small amount of intentionally soured beer.
- Guinness Special Export Stout, Commissioned by John Martin of Belgium in 1912. The first variety of Guinness to be pasteurised, in 1930.
- Guinness Bitter, an English-style bitter beer: 4.4% ABV.
- Guinness Extra Smooth, a smoother stout sold in Ghana, Cameroon and Nigeria: 5.5% ABV.
- Malta Guinness, a non-alcoholic sweet drink, produced in Nigeria and exported to the UK, East Africa, and Malaysia.
- Guinness Mid-Strength, a low-alcohol stout test-marketed in Limerick, Ireland in March 2006 and Dublin from May 2007: 2.8% ABV.
- Kaliber, a premium alcohol-free lager. It is brewed as a full strength lager; then at the end of the brewing process, the alcohol is removed: 0.05% ABV.
- Guinness Red, brewed in exactly the same way as Guinness except that the barley is only lightly roasted so that it produces a lighter, slightly fruitier red ale; test-marketed in Britain in February 2007: 4.1% ABV.
- 250 Anniversary Stout, released in the U.S., Australia and Singapore on 24 April 2009; 5% ABV.
In October 2005, Guinness announced the Brewhouse Series, a limited-edition collection of draught stouts available for roughly six months each. There were three beers in the series.
- Brew 39 was sold in Dublin from late 2005 until early 2006. It had the same alcohol content (ABV) as Guinness Draught, used the same gas mix and settled in the same way, but had a slightly different taste. Many found it to be lighter in taste, somewhat closer to Beamish stout than standard Irish Guinness.
- Toucan Brew was introduced in May 2006. It was named after the cartoon toucan used in many Guinness advertisements. This beer had a crisper taste with a slightly sweet aftertaste due to its triple-hopped brewing process.
- North Star was introduced in October 2006 and sold until into late 2007. Three million pints of North Star were sold in the latter half of 2007.
Despite an announcement in June 2007 that the fourth Brewhouse stout would be launched in October that year, no new beer appeared and, at the end of 2007, the Brewhouse series appeared to have been quietly cancelled.
In March 2006, Guinness introduced the "surger" in Britain. The surger is a plate-like electrical device meant for the home. It sends ultrasonic waves through a Guinness-filled pint glass to recreate the beer's "surge and settle" effect. The device works in conjunction with special cans of surger-ready Guinness. Guinness tried out a primitive version of this system in 1977 in New York. The idea was abandoned until 2003, when it began testing the surger in Japanese bars, most of which are too small to accommodate traditional keg-and-tap systems. Since then, the surger has been introduced to bars in Paris. Surgers are also in use in Australia and Athens, Greece. The surger for the US market was announced on 14 November 2007; plans were to make the unit available to bars only. As of 2011, however hard to find, the surger is available for purchase both for bars and regular customers.
Withdrawn Guinness variants include Guinness's Brite Lager, Guinness's Brite Ale, Guinness Light, Guinness XXX Extra Strong Stout, Guinness Cream Stout, Guinness Gold, Guinness Pilsner, Guinness Breó (a slightly citrusy wheat beer), Guinness Shandy, and Guinness Special Light.
Breó (meaning 'glow' in ancient Irish) was a wheat beer; it cost around IR£5 million to develop.
For a short time in the late 1990s, Guinness produced the "St James's Gate" range of craft-style beers, available in a small number of Dublin pubs. The beers were: Pilsner Gold, Wicked Red Ale, Wildcat Wheat Beer and Dark Angel Lager.
A brewing byproduct of Guinness, Guinness Yeast Extract (GYE), was produced until the 1950s.
In March 2010, Guinness began test marketing Guinness Black Lager, a new black lager, in Northern Ireland and Malaysia. As of September 2010, Guinness Black Lager is no longer readily available in Malaysia. In October, 2010, Guinness began selling Foreign Extra Stout in 4 packs of bottles in the United States.
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Guinness Draught, beeradvocate.com
Does Guinness Beer Taste Better in Ireland?, www.sciencedaily.com