3.4AROMA 6/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 6/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 15/20
I’ve always found Guinness Draught Stout to be one of the most over-rated beers in the world - not that it’s bad, it’s just not quite the best of the best. Now that the St. James’s Gate Brewery is celebrating 250 years of producing this world-famous beer, the time has come for a special edition of it: Guinness 250 Anniversary Stout. Honestly, it seems to be nearly the same beer to me, just without the nitrogen and a bit more body.
POUR, COLOR AND AROMA
This brew pours like any other beer and seems to be much lighter, flowing fairly rough out of the bottle. It forms a large, dark tan, foamy head – most of which lasts throughout the life of the beer (and leaves generous lacing on the glass). The body is identical to the traditional version: opaque black with no noticeable carbonation. The aroma is a bit grainier, and yet fairly sweet as are most Irish dry stouts. I noticed a slight nuttiness in the nose and of course a malty scent.
Upon my initial swig of Guinness 250 Anniversary Stout I was immediately reminded of traditional Guinness Draught Stout, the difference being a lack of creaminess due to the fact this beer is not bottled or canned with a nitrogen widget. Although I suppose this is the point, since the inherent appeal of the original formula is its velvety body. This is more or less the same brew sans nitrogen.
This is an Irish dry stout after all, so not surprisingly the first taste I noticed was lightly roasted malts with a significant chocolate finish. The slightest hint of coffee was also detectable, but mostly in the aftertaste. It also has an almond-like flavor and a fairly watery composition, keeping the overall palate here mild.
I actually found the 250 to be slightly sweeter than the Draught, and (thankfully) lacking that metallic taste the original always seems to have. But unlike the Extra Stout, which has a taste of such deeply roasted malts to the point of having a burnt flavor, 250 is much lighter. Perhaps “toasted” is a more accurate description of it.
A lot of the appeal to Guinness Draught Stout is its smoothness, and although the 250 lacks the nitrogen creaminess, it’s still easy to drink. The mouthfeel is fairly thin and certainly easy on the palate. The mild taste lends itself to a smooth, satisfying finish.
Another difference between this edition and original Guinness is the body. At 5% ABV, 250 is a bit heavier, but the average beer drinker would likely not notice this. It certainly feels as light as the traditional brew and easily lends itself to sessioning (if only the price and availability did the same).
If the St. James’s Gate Brewery is attempting to make a more drinker-friendly Guinness I think they may have gotten it right with 250 Anniversary Stout. It’s got genuine but mild flavor, easy drinkability, and a fairly light body so as to not overwhelm the drinker. Some might call it a gimmick, but just because a beer is gimmicky doesn’t make it bad and this is proof of that.