WASHINGTON. First of all, let me acknowledge that I am not a beer connoisseur. So in today’s review, I hereby lean on a phrase employed by the casual observer exploring a museum’s fine art collection: “I’m no expert, but I know what I like.” Recently, in honor of this St. Patrick’s Day – March 17, 2019 – I bought a package of Guinness Draught Stout Pub Cans. A 4-pack of 14.9 oz. cans costs $10 or so, depending upon where you buy it. At any rate, that’s how I ended up with two cans of Guinness Draught on my table at home.
Stewing over Guinness Draught Stout
My wife, Ellen, who only occasionally drinks beer, poured one can to drink and used another one in a recipe for an Irish-style stew she had heard about from a friend. She did not reveal to me her impression of Guinness Draught until I had sampled it myself. By the way, you can find the recipe, which as it turns out is a fantastic anytime meal, by following this link. (Illustration below.)
Straight from the can? Or after a more artful virtual pull?
In the interests of full disclosure, this was my second attempt to drink Guinness Draught, Pub Can style. About two months earlier, I had purchased a 4-pack of said beer, my first-ever sampling of Guinness Draught. I was hoping to enjoy a “stout” beer. At that time, I opened one, took a sip and immediately took the unopened cans back to the store. Yes, I know, only a redneck would drink Guinness directly from the can. I stand guilty as charged.
I told the manager that something was off about the beer. To his credit, even though the store has a no-refund policy for alcoholic beverages, he saw that I was extremely unsatisfied and gave me a refund anyway.
Fast forward to St. Patrick’s Day. I thought I should give the beer another try. My first experience may have been a fluke.
This time I poured it into a beer glass the right way: angled down the side of the glass. It was picture-perfect! It was dark and stoutly-looking, topped off with a creamy, pleasant tan head.
I took one sip. Then another. I was underwhelmed. Again, I suspected that something was off about the beer. Does Guinness expect Americans to like this stuff? I have tasted better non-alcoholic beer. Ellen’s understated reaction echoed my own. “It’s… um, a little weak.”
Is there such a thing as “Guinness Light”?
Apparently, someone at Guinness thinks that putting the little nitro ping-pong ball in Guinness Draught makes it palatable. It’s supposed to emulate a pulled-from-the-tap brew at everyone’s local Irish pub here in the States. I am sorry my Irish friends, but Guinness Draught from the can is weak, watery and almost tasteless.
Seems to me, a more fitting moniker for this beverage would be “Guinness Light.” At least, then, no one would expect a stronger brew with some body to it.
Guinness has several versions of its beer, and I hope those are more satisfying than the cans of Guinness Draught I experienced. The gold standard was set for me many years ago, when I experienced my first Guinness in a pub. It was a premium stout beer with all the character you could (and should) expect, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. Guinness Draught from a can, however, is one variation on this brew I have resolved to pass up in the future.
Meanwhile, a Happy St. Patrick’s Day 2019 to one and all!
— Headline image: Packaging for a 4-pack of Guinness Stout in cans.