Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Is This Guinness Good For You?

Working in Dublin for 18 months got me used to drinking Guinness.  Initially I loved it over there but as time moved on I began to prefer Murphys and once I discovered the Porterhouse pub I drank less of either.  The last pint of Guinness I had in the UK I ended up leaving.  It was sweet and syrupy and not at all pleasant.  Nothing like the smooth creamy stuff in Dublin.  

During a trip to Morrisons last week my eye was caught by a Guinness promotion with two different types of porter for just £1.50 a bottle so I thought it would be worth giving them a go.  These are apparently recreations of recipes from the 18th and 19th centuries.  There have been a few blog posts out there reviewing these bottles already and once I have tasted and reviewed I will read them.  I don't like to have any preconceptions.

When it comes to marketing, Guinness have always been pretty successful.  They have had many memorable campaigns over the years and a trip to the Guinness museum in Dublin is well worth a visit if you are ever in that great city.  All of the advertisements and slogans you will remember well from your youth (if you are as old as me) will come flooding back.  The labels on these particular bottles are both particularly attractive with a good retro look to them.  However, what really matters is the taste of course.

Dublin Porter (3.8% ABV)

I am a big fan of stouts and porters but I don't think I have ever had one that is less that 4.0% ABV in strength.  This is supposedly an interpretation from Guinness' earliest porter recipes.  Was it ever this low in strength though?  This beer is far too thin and it tastes like it has been watered down.  The taste is not bad at all to be fair.  It has a good roasted malt character with plenty of bitterness in there too.  However, it is far from smooth and far too carbonated.  There just isn't enough of the taste to be satisfied with.  Overall quite disappointing and a 5/10 for this one.           

West Indies Porter (6.0% ABV)

Well the strength is certainly a big improvement with this one which is based on a recipe going back to 1801.  My wife wasn't too enamoured with the first but this one she enjoyed.  It was certainly smoother and I was immediately taken with the sweetness of it with hints of vanilla initially before milk chocolate and liquorice notes came through.  Overall it is sweeter, much richer and much closer to what I like from a stout porter than the Dublin one although I do like a bit of bitterness in the finish which the Dublin one had and was missing here.  Carbonation was still too high and I would give it a score of 7/10.  

The success of any promotion is always down to the question of whether it results in repeat purchases.  For me the Dublin Porter is priced too high already for what you get.  It needs more body and I would not buy it again.  The West Indies Porter is well worth the money but if this is an introductory price then the 'regular' price would probably mean it won't be.  For someone like me who loves to take regular trips to the dark side I would say there are much better stout porters out there.


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