Friday, December 7, 2012

The Gift of Guinness

Pottering around the shops a week or so ago with Mrs V, I saw a Guinness Holiday mix pack, with the rather natty slogan 'Be Generous, Give Guinness'. Making sure that purchasing said box of beer wouldn't send us into a poverty ridden experience, toiling in a work house and wretchedly asking the Beadle for more, I put it in the trolley (that's 'cart' for my Americans friends and readers). Sadly, disaster was just around the corner, the handle gave way as I was putting it in the car, sending a shower of beer across the asphalt of the car park.

Only 2 bottles had gone to meet their Maker, and after being good citizens of planet Earth, cleaning up the mess, informing the customer service people in the shop and in the case of Mrs V picking glass up by hand while some man sat in his car watching, not bothering to offer help until his own wife turned up, and apparently proffering nothing more than a cursory 'mind you don't cut yourself' - they drove off just as I returned to scene of carnage with a customer service bod - we went home. If you have ever had the pleasure of listening Mrs V venting at the sheer lack of manners and gentlemanly conduct that seems par for the course these days, you can imagine the ride home.

What about the beer though? Well, there would have been 3 bottles of the following:
  • Guinness Draught
  • Guinness Black Lager
  • Guinness Foreign Extra Stout
  • Guinness Generous Ale
As it was, only 1 bottle of the Generous Ale made it safely to the cellar, to fight another day. That other day was last night, while Mrs V watched American Horror Story I went up to the kitchen to prepare the starter for my sourdough bread and drink some booze.

For reasons best known only to my subconscience, I started with the Black Lager and it was pretty decent really. Very dark, with notes of cola, some coffee, a reasonably subdued roastiness and a nice dry, clean, lager like finish. Definitely not something I would turn my nose up at in the future, sure it's not something worthy of leaping in the car and driving across hill and dale for, but it reminded me of some Czech dark lagers I have tried, and for some reason put me in mind of the Guinness Extra Cold that was all the rage back in the 90s.

In a vain attempt to create some semblance of order, I opened the Guinness Draught next. Unless you have never drunk Guinness in your life, you know exactly how it was, dark, roasty, smoky but thin and watery, with a vague hint of something artificial about it. It was also the only bottle not proudly boasting being 'Brewed and Bottled in.....Dublin' and being a 'Product of Ireland'.

On to the one I had never seen before, Generous Ale, a holiday special that apparently celebrates the legendary generosity of Arthur Guinness to his workers and the wider community. Again a pretty decent beer, a beautiful deep red and lots of sweet caramel, a touch of honey and a little hop bite at the end to give it some balance. I was kind of bummed that the 2 broken bottles hadn't been the Guinness Draught to be honest.

In the interests of full disclosure, I will admit that I am a paid up fan of Guinness Foreign Extra Stout and its inky, silky delights, it's sachertort sweetness and burnt sugar bitterness, I just think it is downright delish - though after the Extra Stout I drank with Reuben of Tale of the Ale fame in Paris last year, it might not be my favourite Irish FES, but we can't get that other beer over here so I am ignoring it.

Overall then, a couple of decent beers, one of my favourites and then the Guinness Draught made this a reasonable choice of mix pack. I am looking forward to the rest of the Black Lager and FES, and perhaps hoping to find a six pack of Generous Ale somewhere. The Guinness Draught will likely be used to marinade a ham for Christmas! Sure Guinness might be part of the evil multinational corporation that is Diageo, but the guys at St James' Gate make some pretty tasty beers, just make sure they are actually a 'Product of Ireland'.


  1. Not a comment on the beer, but if the handle gave way, why weren't you offered a replacement by the supermarket and why didn't you demand one?

  2. Two main reasons:

    1. I didn't think about it
    2. I was carrying the box by a single handle, so partly my fault

    Also, I was in the car park and I've always had this thing in my head that if I break something in the car park it is my own tough shit.

  3. Good article ... been reading more of your blogs lately. I also was decently impressed by the dark lager that they have. I need to keep my eye out for the Generous Ale. I do prefer the draught Guinness to the Foreign Extra Stout, but it has been some time now and I should give it another try. With the draught, I never had a good taste to the bottles, but the cans are so much better. Correct me if I am wring, but the cans of Guinness Draught are made in Dublin, not here in America ... I haven't really paid attention to the bottles.

    One last comment, I find it disgraceful for these multi-national companies to buy up these beer companies. I have problems with companies like AB-Imbev, SAB-Miller, and Diego. They say that they don't change the beer, but that is hard to believe. To my benefit I try to stick with local beer (within the Midwest being currently located in Cincinnati, OH) and indulge in buying something that is shipped.


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