Stout, Porter and Guinness. Three of my favourite topics. Today they all come together in a coming together sort of way.
One of the common misconceptions about Guinness is that the "Dry Stout" style it represents has been around since Moses was in nappies. And that an essential ingredient has always been roast barley. You can guess what I'm going to say now: both ideas are utter crap.
I'll start with Guinness in the 1920's and 1930's. Until 1917, Guinness Extra Stout had the same gravity as Foreign Extra Stout: 1074º. Like all other UK beers, government legislation drastically reduced its gravity as the war progressed. Though, due to the somewhat laxer rules applied to Ireland, not as drastically as English beers. The nadir was 1049º in 1918. Not that bad when you think Mild was mostly 1027º. And higher than the gravity of Guinness today.
Between the wars, the gravity of Guinness Extra Stout was pretty constant at 1055º. Take a look:
Take a look at the apparent attenuation. It's mostly around 75%. That's very different from post-1950 Guinness. But more of that tomorrow.
Whitbread also brewed a beer called Extra Stout. Which too had an OG of 1055º. And attenuation of about 75%. It has a profile very similar to Guinness. Though the grists are different. Whitbread Extra Stout had this grist:
pale malt 73%
brown malt 7%
chocolate malt 7%
Guinness Extra Stout used a combination of pale, amber and roast malt. I think. Or maybe just pale and roast malt. Definitely no brown or chocolate.
The blackest day - I confess that I have been most remiss in my marking of International Stout Day up until now. 2017's iteration would likely have passed me by also, were it...
8 hours ago