Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Stout Blind Tasting

Last night I got round to brewing my Black Rose Dunkelweizen, to a very simple recipe:
  • 3lbs Muntons Wheat Extract
  • 0.8lb Caramel 60
  • 0.8lb Chocolate Malt
  • 0.7oz Hallertau @ 60 minutes
  • 0.2oz Hallertau @ 15 minutes
  • 0.1oz Hallertau @ 5 minutes
  • Weihenstephan Weizen Yeast
The OG for this dark brew was a nice 1.054 and when I woke up this morning, the airlock is popping along with gusto and there is a delightful krausen on the beer.

During the "hanging around" bits of the brewing process, I decided to do a three way stout blind tasting test, using Guinness Extra Stout brewed in Canada, O'Hara's Stout brewed in Carlow, Ireland, and Dark Starr, brewed in Crozet by Starr Hill.

So that I didn't know which beer I was drinking, I had Mrs Velkyal do the pouring honours, and thus she first presented me with these

  • Sight - very dark, slightest ruby at edges, big tan head
  • Smell - light coffee, general roastiness
  • Taste - dark chocolate, a slightly sour, lactic touch
  • Sweet - 2/5
  • Bitter - 3.5/5
  • Sight - pitch black, rocky tan head
  • Smell - big coffee and chocolate notes
  • Taste - smooth chocolate cake, a beautiful classic stout
  • Sweet - 3/5
  • Bitter - 2.5/5
  • Sight - Very dark, ivory head
  • Smell  - roasted grains, touch of dark chocolate
  • Taste - light chocolate and coffee, not as pronounced as the others
  • Sweet - 2/5
  • Bitter - 2/5
With this tasting, I decided that I didn't want to try to identify each beer, but rather give my order of preference and then find out what Mrs Velkyal had given me, so here goes:
  1. Stout 2
  2. Stout 1
  3. Stout 3
Stout 2 turned out to be Dark Starr from Starr Hill, number 1 was the Guinness Extra Stout and third up was O'Hara's. So there we have it, Starr Hill's Dark Starr really does standard up to the behemoth of the Dry Irish Stout world as well as the craft brewing newcomer, and is deserving of the raft of medals it has won.


  1. "Behemoth of the Dry Irish Stout world"? It's just a local specialty, is it not? And it's a bit too strong to fall under Dry Irish Stout as a codified style.

  2. As a brand, surely behemoth is appropriate?


    Not only is it a local specialty, it is the most award-winning Dry Irish Stout in the U.S.! :D

  4. I'm more concerned about you preferring Guinness Extra to O'Hara's! :D

  5. Trust me, I was fairly confused by it as well!

  6. See, I reckon I dislike (normal) Guinness, but it does seem to do well in blind taste tests. I'm afraid to try it in case it turns out that I'm just a massive dogmatic snob and Guinness is actually objectively a decent beer.

  7. I should do a blind tasting of nitrogenated stouts at some point.

  8. "As a brand"
    I've never managed to taste a brand.

    By the sounds of it, this could be any old Labatt's beer with the Guinness name slapped on it. Does anyone know how long it has existed, or if it has earlier antecendants? Is it based on anything Guinness has ever brewed? Guinness used to own a brewery in the US back in the '50s. Did this show up after that?

    Bailey, there is no "normal" Guinness. Only local Guinness(es).

  9. TBN -- you know what I mean, though -- there's a family of 'normal' Guinnesses/Guinni and another of strong 'uns.

  10. If this is just an old Labatt's beer with a Guinness label slapped on it, then Labatt's must have made a fine stout once upon a time.


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