Showing posts with label Guinness Special Export. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Guinness Special Export. Show all posts

Tuesday, 20 November 2012


"See what someone's written here, Andrew. That Porter and Stout were exported to cold, northern countries and IPA to hot, tropical ones."


"It's bollocks. They exported stacks of Porter to India. And Stout to the West Indies. That and Strong Scottish beer. Even that wasn't strong enough for the planters. They'd throw in a shot of rum."

"We've Guinness and Havana Club. Why don't you try it?"

"You know something, Andrew? That's not a bad idea. I'm not that keen on the Havana Club straight."

"What's it like, dad?"

"Try it yourself."

"It's like Guinness. You can hardly taste the rum at all."

"I know. Great isn't it? Almost no rum flavour, but all the fally-over goodness."

"What's it called, dad?"

"No idea. What about Ruinness?"

"Sounds like a toilet-related illness."


"That sounds like a lumpier form of the last stuff."

"I know. Firefly."

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

How can you call that a Stout?

Guinness. Love them or leave them, you sometimes hate them. My own relationship with Guinness is equivocal. Just to prove that, I'm drinking one* right now.

Stout. What did the word originally mean, in a beer sense? Strong. Brown Stout is the name Stout began with, back in the 18th century. It had a brother, Pale Stout. Stout = strong, pale or brown = base malt.

Many things annoy me. My evenings are spent screaming at the TV, while Dolores covers her ears and the kids hide cower behind the settee. Pretty much top, beer-wise, is the assertion that you can't have an IPA under 4% ABV. Because IPA "was a strong beer" in the 19th century.

I've just two problems with that argument. First, IPA wasn't a strong beer in the 19th century. It was about standard strength. I've plenty of examples of a base-level X-Ale Mild that were stronger than Bass IPA (or whatever they called it, I think it was often just Pale Ale) in a given year.

Second problem: assuming beer styles are flies trapped in amber, unchanging. British beer styles have been exceedingly dynamic, in terms of strength, ingredients and even colour. Judging a modern British beer by the style guidelines of 1850 is ludicrous. Surely everyone can see that? Well, no they can't. Otherwise there wouldn't be the repeated, tedious complaint that Greene King commits fraud with their IPA.

I'm going to move this over the Irish Channel. And look at Guinness, applying the same logic that condemns Greene King IPA. Does Guinness match up to its 19th-century ancestors? How strong was Guinness Extra Stout in, say 1870? Or 1880? Or 1914?

Let's take a look at one of my traditional tables (I've deliberately thrown in some FES examples as a benchmark):

Guinness Stout 1870 – 1914
Year Brewer Beer Acidity FG OG colour ABV App. Attenuation
1870 Guinness Extra Stout 0.24 1015.51 1078.06
8.20 80.13%
1870 Guinness Stout 0.24 1015.51 1078.06
8.51 80.13%
1870 Guinness Stout 0.20 1019.56 1078.01
7.75 74.93%
1888 Guinness Stout 0.52 1018.1 1072
7.03 74.86%
1896 Guinness Extra Stout
1017.55 1072.26
7.05 74.43%
1901 Guinness Foreign Extra Stout
1013.302 1075.67
8.18 82.42%
1901 Guinness Extra Foreign Stout 0.243 1013.20 1074.98
7.86 81.34%
1914 Guinness Extra Stout


British Medical Journal June 25th 1870, page 658
"Chemie der menschlichen Nahrungs- und Genussmittel" by Joseph König, 1889, page 839
Wahl & Henius, pages 823-830

Based on that, an Irish Stout should be 7-8% ABV

Guinness Stout 1964 – 1966
Year Brewer Beer Acidity FG OG colour ABV App. Attenuation
1964 Guinness Foreign Extra Stout 0.07 1015 1072.8 200 7.56 79.40%
1964 Guinness Extra Stout 0.04 1007.5 1043.1 225 4.64 82.60%
1964 Guinness Extra Stout 0.06 1007.9 1044.9 150 4.82 82.41%
1964 Guinness Extra Stout 0.06 1007.9 1044.8 175 4.81 82.37%
1964 Guinness Extra Stout 0.06 1007.8 1044.8 175 4.82 82.59%
1966 Guinness Extra Stout 0.05 1007 1043 160 4.69 83.72%
1966 Guinness Extra Stout 0.04 1006.9 1043.5 170 4.77 84.14%
1966 Guinness Extra Stout 0.04 1007.4 1043 190 4.64 82.79%
1966 Guinness Extra Stout 0.04 1007.3 1043.6 170 4.73 83.26%
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/002

Look at that. Modern Guinness Extra Stout is barely half the strength that it was 100 years ago.  How can you call that a Stout? Fraud, I call it.

* Guinness Special Export

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Official - it's hot

It's officially hot. As you can see from this photograph:

Guinness Special Export. The only beer I ever put in the fridge.

"Tell them the shandy is mine, dad."


The shandy is Lexie's

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

First Guinness of summer

It's a sure sign of summer . . . hang on, I've already done that . . . more than once.

The first Guinness of summer needed to be documented. That's what I thought. But I am pretty weird. So maybe you disagree. About the first Guinness needing to be documented. You doubtless agree about the weird bit.

It looks lovely, doesn't it? The Guinness to the right.Behind it is our garden. It looks more like a jungle every year. Plants clutter it much like books litter our house.

Sun and Guinness. They go together like a . . . . Can anyone think of a word that rhymes with Guinness?

Friday, 3 July 2009

It must be summer

I put a bottle of Guinness Special Export in the fridge yesterday. A sure sign that the summer is here. It was so warm, I added ice to my Hummel Räucherator. ("Urgh, that smells funny," was Dolores's reaction when I suggested she try it "like ham.")

That's about my only concession to Summer. Icing my beer when I get home from work, tired and sweaty after being squeezed into a number 15 bus. (The summer tram and bus schedule has just started. It means one thing: fewer trams and buses. Great. There aren't enough 15's in the normal schedule.) Other than upping my Guinness Special Export consumption when it's really hot, the passing seasons have no effect on my drinking habits. I still survive on a diet of St. Bernardus 6, 8 and 12.

I don't understand why people swap to pale, light, lagery beers as soon as the temperature rises over 20º C. I just don't get it. My taste buds don't change. My personal preferences are unaltered. Why should I suddenly abandon my favourite beers? Crisp, cool, refreshing. Is lager really that? Or have we all just been brainwashed by the marketing men at the Megabrewery Corporation?

A lightly-chilled bottle of export-strength Stout. What could be more summery than that?

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

The perfect summer beer

Counterintuitive is my middle name. (I don't actually have a middle name. My parents could only afford one. Times were hard in the 1930's) Light, pale-coloured beers. That's what are usually seen as perfect for warm weather. But is it true?

Had my family been able to afford three names, perverse would have come after Ronald and Counterintuitive. Ronald Counterintuitive Perverse Pattinson. It as a certain ring to it. (I keep telling Alexei he was lucky I hadn't discovered archives before he was born. Otherwise he'd be answering to the name Barclay.) Stonch has called me perverse for liking U Rotundy. He could be right. That adjective is likely to get thrown around some more when I tell you my perfect summer beer.

It's not only excessive carbonation I don't care for. I dislike all but the most minimal level of carbonation. But that's not what I meant. I don't like my beer chilled, either. My fridge has no beer in it. Except for that bottle of something or other Rosé I put in there 18 months ago. Refreshingly warm and flat is how I like my beer. With one exception.

When the temperature gets too warm for me to feel comfortable (that's 20.1º C), I stick a few bottles my summer beer in the fridge. Arriving home all sweaty from a day at the coalface, I climb into my tin bath and get Dolores to bring me a beer. A nice slightly-below-room-temperature glass of Guinness Special Export.

My Dad really did go down the pit. His side of the family is from the Northeast and many of them were miners. He liked being a collier so much, he went and joined the Royal Navy after a single day. He worked in the stokehold of battleship HMS Rodney. So he still didn't get to see daylight during working hours. But he did at least get to travel.

Continuing the tradition of iced Mild, if there's no Special Export in the fridge, I'll add a few icecubes to my glass. This may sound like sacrilege, but I've even put icecubes in my 1914 SSS.

Guinness Special Export. My perfect summer beer. Black, strong and heavy. It works for me. You may say "A strong Stout - that's a crazy beer to drink in hot weather". That is conventional wisdom. But if strong Stout is so poorly suited to warmer climes, why is Guinness Foreign Extra Stout sold throughout the tropics? Someone must agree with me,

What's your perfect summer beer?

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.