Made of more

Hav­ing learnt what Guin­ness For­eign ex­tra Stout re­ally is, our colum­nist com­pares it with the draught ver­sion of the brew.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - TASTE -

WHAT is the dif­fer­ence be­tween Guin­ness For­eign Ex­tra Stout (FES) and Guin­ness Draught?”

“Why does Guin­ness Draught taste so dif­fer­ent from Guin­ness FES?”

“If Guin­ness FES is a stout, then is Guin­ness Draught also a stout?”

Th­ese are just some of the ques­tions I get asked about Guin­ness all the time. Hav­ing al­ready dis­sected what Guin­ness FES is, I de­cided to ded­i­cate this week’s col­umn to an­swer­ing some of those ques­tions. Let’s start with the names. “For­eign Ex­tra” is the name given to all Guin­ness brewed out­side Ire­land with the term “For­eign Ex­tra” on the la­bels, while Guin­ness Draught refers to, well, the Guin­ness that is avail­able on draught.

In Malaysia, Guin­ness FES is only avail­able in bot­tle and canned form, while Guin­ness Draught is only avail­able on tap.

In some other coun­tries, you can also get Guin­ness Draught in bot­tles and cans (which have a spe­cial ni­tro­gen “wid­get” that pro­duces the fa­mous creamy head of foam).

At 6.8% ABV (and up to 8% ABV in other coun­tries, Guin­ness FES also con­tains more al­co­hol than Guin­ness Draught (which has be­tween 4.1 and 4.3% ABV).

Now, let’s get tech­ni­cal. As men­tioned in the last col­umn, Guin­ness is a tra­di­tional Ir­ish stout beer made from roasted bar­ley, hops, yeast, and wa­ter.

Ac­cord­ing to GAB Pro­fes­sional So­lu­tions man­ager Keith Nair, tech­ni­cally the two beers are both stouts, as the ini­tial brew­ing process for both beers are ac­tu­ally the same.

“In terms of brew­ing pro­ce­dure, they are both the same. How­ever, the main dif­fer­ence be­tween the two is the gas, the amount of hops, and Guin­ness flavour ex­tract that is used,” he ex­plained, adding that FES uses a lot more hops, which are mea­sured in bit­ter­ness units (BU).

“The hop con­cen­tra­tion of FES is much higher, about one third more than the Draught. Lagers tend to have 16 to17 BU – FES has 47 BU, and Draught has about 32 BU. FES also has slightly more yeast, so it pro­duces more al­co­hol.”

Another ma­jor dif­fer­ence be­tween the two is the gas that is used in the beers.

Guin­ness Draught con­tains 60% ni­tro­gen (N2) and 40% carbon diox­ide (CO2), while FES con­tains only CO2.

Ac­cord­ing to Nair, the gases used re­ally make a dif­fer­ence in the flavours. The use of N2 in Draught al­lows it to be put un­der high pres­sure, and causes the very fine bub­bles that form the beer’s iconic creamy head of foam. With its lower level of CO2, the beer also seems creamier and re­fresh­ing.

“Ni­tro­gen tends to make it creamier, but flavour-wise, you would lose a lot of bite,” he said.

“FES is slightly more acidic, but in terms of flavour in­ten­sity, the FES has much more of it – the bit­ter­ness units are higher, the hops are much more in­tense, and the al­co­hol con­tent is higher.”

To il­lus­trate his point, we did a blind tast­ing of the FES and Draught side by side. Visu­ally, it was easy to see which was which – the Draught had a creamy, white head of foam, while the FES has a slightly brown­ish head, with much larger bub­bles.

There is def­i­nitely a dis­tinct dif­fer­ence in taste be­tween the two – at the same tem­per­a­ture, Guin­ness Draught was lighter and eas­ier to drink whereas the FES was richer, slightly more bit­ter and ro­bust in na­ture, and the sweet af­ter­taste hits you much faster. The dif­fer­ences be­tween the two were more pro­nounced af­ter we let them warm up a lit­tle.

Un­chilled, the Draught tasted pretty much the same but it wasn’t as ap­peal­ing as it was be­fore, but the flavour pro­file FES on the other hand changed com­pletely.

When chilled, the flavours of the FES still came through but were still slightly muted by the cold­ness of the liq­uid, but given time to warm up a lit­tle, the in­ten­sity and rich­ness of the malt and hops started com­ing through even more.

By the time it hit room tem­per­a­ture, the FES had a sweet, malty, syrupy tex­ture and the malt and hops were re­ally hit­ting the spot, whereas I just wasn’t in­ter­ested in drink­ing the Draught warm.

“I like to drink my FES warm! More flavours come out when it is warm, and the added yeast makes it taste a lot sweeter. FES has heavy aro­mas, and goes well with desserts be­cause of the hops and sweet­ness, whereas Draught is good for food pairings and is more ver­sa­tile,” Nair said, adding that Draught also makes it eas­ier for be­gin­ners to start drink­ing Guin­ness.

“Af­ter we in­tro­duced it, we were sur­prised to see that it was con­vert­ing a lot of women drinkers to the brand!”

All the same, he reck­ons that the orig­i­nal Guin­ness is still the FES.

“Mov­ing from Draught to FES is like a grad­u­a­tion – ev­ery­thing goes up a notch! Ev­ery­thing is ‘more’ with FES – it has more hops, yeast, and CO2; it is richer, more ro­bust and in­tense in taste, and it’s also stronger in terms of al­co­hol! If you are re­ally into the orig­i­nal Guin­ness flavours, then the FES is the one for you,” he con­cluded.

Michael Cheang likes to think he has “grad­u­ated” to FES, but still likes a Guin­ness Draught ev­ery now and then. Reader re­sponse can be di­rected to star2@thes­

Bub­bly good­ness: Keith nair show­ing how the use of n2 in draught causes the very fine bub­bles that form the beer’s iconic creamy head of foam.

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