Thursday, March 17, 2011

Guinness Foreign Extra Stout

I have a feeling a lot of BeerTubers are going to be reviewing this beer this St. Patrick's Day as it's the "newest" version of Guinness. "Newest" being a relative term since this particular version of Guinness was never available in the United States until last fall but has been sold globally for decades! Guinness Foreign Extra Stout is basically a hoppier, stronger version of regular Guinness and lacks the nitrogen widget. I've never been a huge fan of Guinness, but I do like a good imperial stout, so which way would this beer lean?

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 14/20
Chad9976 (624) - Albany, USA - JUL 16, 2011
When Americans think of Guinness they almost always associate it with their flagship Draught Stout (you know, the one that’s nitrogenated with a pure cream-like head and cascading bubbles?). But did you know the Foreign Extra Stout is actually the highest-selling version globally? Why it’s never been sold in the United States until recently is something of a mystery. This is a stronger version of traditional Guinness to be sure, but those expecting major differences or more complexity might be a little disappointed. It’s a good beer, but nothing more than that.

I poured a 12oz bottle into an Irish tulip stout glass.

Appearance: Just like regular Guinness, this beer is pitch black and just a hint of ruby red shows when held up to the light. It forms a huge, dark tan, sponge-like head that lasts seemingly forever and laces the glass well.

Smell: A generic stout aroma for lack of a better description. There’s a slight oaty quality and some roasted malt with a touch of black licorice, but that’s about it.

Taste: Much like the appearance and aroma, the beer tastes like a generic, conservative stout - only a little stronger. The first half is quite mild with some sweetness and a dairy-like flavor commonly found in milk and oatmeal stouts (although this is an Irish Dry Stout). The second half kicks the palate with dark-roasted malt akin to the robustness of a French roast coffee. Guinness FES is also noticeably more bitter then regular Guinness and dries out the palate faster too.

My only beef with this beer is that it doesn’t offer anything original. No chocolate or coffee flavors, just a hint of black licorice in the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Despite the higher potency and robustness, I was surprised the beer was on the lower end of medium-bodied. Low carbonation and a soft, gentle texture on the tongue.

Drinkability: Almost as good as regular Guinness as it slides across the palate like water. There’s a dry aftertaste which gets a little annoying, but is easily tolerable. The 7.5% ABV seems high as the beer drinks and feels like something more in the sessionable range.

Overall, this is a good beer but nothing particularly special. There are many other options for stouts with the same potency, higher complexity and similar price range. Still, I’d take it over Guinness Draught Stout any day, and you should too.

Grade: 7/10

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