Thursday, 8 November 2007

More Guinness

Why two posts today? Because I forgot to publish yesterday's ("How can I be sure?"). And you can never learn too much about 19th century Guinness. At least that's what I reckon.

These are the gravities of the main Guinness products in the 1800's. The weakest - Porter - is considerably stronger than today's Extra Stout. FES, on the other hand, is pretty much unchanged since 1860.



You may have heard me dream of Guinness producing a bottle-conditioned version of Special Export, the 8% version that's sold in the Benelux. I was pained to discover that this was the first type of Guinness to be pasteurised, way back in 1930. Guinness paid for a pasteuriser to be installed in John Martin's bottling hall. Given that strong beers are still usually bottle-conditioned in Belgium, this seems slightly odd.

I would start a campaign for Guinness to make a naturally-conditioned version of FES or Special Export. Either would be wonderful in this form, I'm sure. But I doubt Diageo would be interested. They're too busy launching slightly tweaked versions of draught Guinness. It's a lack of imagination and daring typical of large brewers.

4 comments:

terrycollmann said...

The laugh is that Ireland was one of the last outposts for bottle-conditioned beer in the 1960s, because all the little local bottlers for Guinness, Smithwicks and the like wouldn't pay to upgrade their equipment to include filters and pasteurisers ... the archives of the trade press (in the National Library in Dublin) are full of the rows that went on as the local bottlers sought to resist the pressure from Guinness and the rest to change, the bottlers' main argument being that the beer wouldn't taste as good when it wasn't allowed to pasteurise properly (though in reality they were less concerned about the beer, and more about their wish to avoid massive capital expenditure on new kit ...)

The Beer Nut said...

Yes, for those of us living with the consequence that's really ****ing hilarious.

Em, am I reading you wrong, Terry, or should that last "pasteurise" be "condition"?

It is truly amazing that there wasn't more of a fuss made by drinkers over the move to bland mass-produced beer, especially given how bizarrely protective today's Irish drinkers get about any one "messing with their pint". But then, it was doubtless viewed as modernisation and The Way Forward. This was at the same time that Ireland was ripping up her railway lines because cars were The Way Forward. Anyone who's tried getting to and from Dublin airport can see how well that worked...

terrycollmann said...

Oops, yes, sorry, "pasteurise" should have read "condition" ... also for "black" read "white" throughout ...

The real tragedy, BN, as I don't need to tell you, is that Ireland has probably the finest selection of cracking pubs and bars in the world, and Irish pub culture is still great (despite a sharp rise in the percentage of alcohol being drunk at home) but its beer selection is absolutely dreadful. I note, however, that there's been a sharp rise as well in the amount of craft beer being imported into the Republic, which can't be entirely down to just you, so maybe things are changing ...

The Beer Nut said...

Preaching to the choir, man...

Our biggest importer went out of business a couple of months ago, but amazingly the selection in good offies didn't seem to suffer much. Other importers picked up the slack and now it seems that the staff of the folded company have rehabilitated it as well. I doubt this would have happened, even a couple of years ago. So yes: good news there (and I like to feel I'm doing my bit).

However, I doubt that the problem of Bad Beer in Good Pubs can be solved by imports. We need more local craft breweries, and for the pubs to stock their wares. And that means we need a change in our licensing laws to make a pub licence more affordable and publicans less risk-averse. And that, in turn, means we need to reduce the unfortunately high levels of political power wielded by the nation's publicans.

Perhaps more home drinking will help this. Once again, I'm doing my bit there.