Made of so much more

Guin­ness’ Open Gate Brew­ery in Dublin: where new Guin­ness vari­ants are cre­ated.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - TASTE -

WHEN one hears the name Guin­ness, one usu­ally thinks about that fa­mous big, bold, black beer. So when I found out that Guin­ness was ac­tu­ally brew­ing a blonde lager and an In­dia Pale Ale ( IPA) for the Amer­i­can beer mar­ket, I was ini­tially scep­ti­cal.

Af­ter all, stout is what Guin­ness does best, and what they have been do­ing mag­nif­i­cently for 257 years. Why would they need to brew an­other style of beer? A re­cent visit to the Open Gate Brew­ery at the Guin­ness Store­house in Dublin, Ire­land, gave me the an­swer to that ques­tion.

“Guin­ness has al­ways had a cul­ture of in­no­va­tion, and brew­ing new beers,” says Domh­nall Mar­nell, a man who has ar­guably one of the coolest job de­scrip­tions in the world: Guin­ness beer spe­cial­ist.

“Af­ter all, Guin­ness did not make Guin­ness Draught in 1759, and just con­tinue to make that un­til now. We’ve gone from ales, to porters, to stouts, to ex­tra stouts, to ni­tro­genated stouts, and so many oth­ers in be­tween as well. Beers like Guin­ness For­eign Ex­tra Stout ( FES), we’ve made since 1801. It’s avail­able in Asia and Africa, but most peo­ple in Ire­land or the USA would not know it ex­ists.”

A work­ing mi­cro­brew­ery and pub si­t­u­ated within the main Guin­ness brew­ery, The Open Gate Brew­ery, opened its doors to the pub­lic a cou­ple of months ago. Be­fore that, it was known as The Brew­ers Pro­ject, a small group of Guin­ness brew­ers who were in charge of com­ing up with new beers, whether by re­viv­ing old recipes or by cre­at­ing their own.

“What’s great about the OGB is that there is no pres­sure. We bring a beer in, for maybe an eight week cy­cle, peo­ple come and taste it, and if they like it, then we can con­sider bring­ing it out again,” Mar­nell says.

It’s ac­tu­ally a process that makes sense con­sid­er­ing that that is what most craft brew­pubs do any­way. What Guin­ness has to their ad­van­tage is they cer­tainly have the re­sources to al­low their team of brew­ers to go crazy with their “ex­per­i­ments” on a larger scale.

“The brew­ers in here are just hav­ing a lot of fun. They’ve got all th­ese re­sources and li­cense to brew any beer they want. So any idea they have, they brew it. We’ve had ev­ery­thing from Im­pe­rial dunkels, Ger­manstyled dark beers with Guin­ness yeast, milk stout, and just re­cently, we had a vanilla, toasted- oat­meal ale, which was ab­so­lutely gor­geous,” he says.

Among the lim­ited edi­tion beers on tap dur­ing our visit to the OGB is an An­twerp Im­pe­rial Stout, a 9% al­co­hol by vol­ume ( ABV) full- bod­ied malt mon­ster of a stout that tasted like bit­ter dark choco­lates; and the Vi­enna Com­mon Lager, a 5% ABV cros be­tween a Cal­i­for­nia com­mon lager and a Vi­enna dark malt lager that is a light, easy, re­fresh­ing drink with a great bal­ance.

Ac­cord­ing to Mar­nell, the cur­rent global craft beer move­ment means that this is as good a time as ever for Guin­ness to start ex­per­i­ment­ing with new beers.

“We’ve got 257 years of brew­ing his­tory be­hind us, and right now, there is no bet­ter time to start brew­ing dif­fer­ent beers. We can re­ally open up our range now be­cause there are more beer drinkers want­ing to try dif­fer­ent styles and dif­fer­ent beers,” he says.

“For many years, Guin­ness Draught has been our No. 1 variant in Europe and the US. Then you’ve got FES in Africa and Asia. So for many years, what we’ve been re­leas­ing were just vari­ants of what we al­ready had. The OGB changes all that.”

To fur­ther prove his point, we are given a spe­cial tast­ing of the dif­fer­ent vari­ants of beers cur­rently pro­duced by Guin­ness not just at the OGB, but also around the world.

What bet­ter way to start a tast­ing than with cur­rently the most fa­mous Guin­ness variant around the world? Launched in 1959, this ver­sion of Guin­ness is ni­tro­genated in­stead of car­bon­ated like other beers, and has be­come the brew­ery’s flag­ship variant, the one that is served most around the world.

The ni­tro­gen makes Guin­ness Draught a lot eas­ier to drink than the bot­tled ver­sion – won­der­fully creamy and rich, with bal­anced flavours of malted bar­ley, slightly bit­ter yet sweet caramel notes, and a re­fresh­ing, al­most sooth­ing fin­ish. Def­i­nitely a good start­ing point for a novice Guin­ness drinker, and a great reg­u­lar ses­sion stout as well.

Guin­ness Draught:

This is THE orig­i­nal Guin­ness stout, which Guin­ness Draught is based on. This is ba­si­cally the same beer as the Guin­ness Draught, but car­bon­ated in­stead of ni­tro­genated; it has the same char­ac­teris-

Guin­ness Ex­tra Stout:

tics but sim­ply does not have the creamy mouth­feel that the Draught has. It’s still the same beer, though, so you still get a lot of rich, malty, coffee notes and a malty fin­ish.

We now move on to the new Guin­ness beers that were in­tro­duced in the Amer­i­can mar­ket re­cently. Ac­cord­ing to Mar­nell, th­ese beers were in­tro­duced to fill gaps in a US beer mar­ket in which craft beer is cur­rently all the rage.

The Blonde Lager is a crisp, re­fresh­ing lager with a some­what yeasty nose, and is light and slightly cit­rusy on the palate. It’s got more body than most lagers, and a dis­tinct “Guin­ness- ness” to it that Mar­nell says is down to the Guin­ness yeast they use.

Guin­ness Blonde Lager:

I have to ad­mit, an IPA was the last thing I’d ex­pect to try in the home of Guin­ness. But I was sur­prised by the Ni­tro IPA. Brewed us­ing five dif­fer­ent hop va­ri­eties, this is a very easy, 5.8% ABV ses­sion IPA that has a pleas­antly fresh, hoppy nose, and an easy bal­ance of hops and malts on the palate with a rel­a­tively light fin­ish.

Guinnes Ni­tro IPA:

Back in 1796, Guin­ness de­cided to make their own ver­sion of a dark brown ale called a porter, which was ex­tremely pop­u­lar in Lon­don at the time. The new Dublin Porter

Guin­ness Dublin Porter:

is a beer based on the old recipes for that his­tor­i­cal beer. At 3.8% ABV, it is rel­a­tively light and easy for a porter and has a nice sweet, bis­cu­ity, malt flavour that lingers on the fin­ish.

At 6% ABV, this is a fuller, richer porter than the easy- drink­ing Dublin Porter. Based on an 1801 recipe from the Guin­ness ar­chives for a porter that could main­tain its fresh­ness for more than a month while be­ing shipped to the West Indies, the old ver­sion of this brew was said to be the pre­cur­sor to FES.

The new one is a medium bod­ied beer with a rich, malty, co­coa flavour that in­deed re­minds me of the FES, though more like a cross be­tween the FES and the Draught.

West Indies Porter:

Guin­ness Golden Ale:

In­tro­duced in 2015, this is one of the new­est ad­di­tions to the Guin­ness fam­ily – an ale brewed us­ing Guin­ness yeast, Ir­ish bar­ley, hops, and am­ber malt. It is a crisp golden in colour, and is a very easy drink­ing ale with a good bal­ance of malty, bis­cuit and nutty flavours, and a de­cent malty fin­ish.

It has been a run­ning joke among Guin­ness en­thu­si­asts that Guin­ness can’t brew a proper lager. Well, with the in­tro­duc­tion of Hop House 13 in 2015, the joke has pretty much stopped.

One of the early suc­cesses of The Brewer’s Pro­ject, this is a sur­pris-

Hop House 13:

in­gly tasty lager – hop­pier than the usual com­mer­cial lager or pil­sner, but with rich malty notes that give you that dis­tinct Guin­ness flavour.

Now this is a rare one. Brewed by Guin­ness at their brew­eries in Nige­ria, this beer is made with a com­bi­na­tion of malted bar­ley and sorghum, a grain that is com­mon in Africa. While FES re­mains the flag­ship Guin­ness variant in Africa, the Africa Spe­cial was in­tro­duced as an al­ter­na­tive to FES in a bid to draw younger drinkers to the brand. The sweet sorghum notes are very ap­par­ent in the nose and on the palate, and it re­minds me of a much, much sweeter ver­sion of an FES. Also, de­pend­ing on whether you like your beers sweet, the sweet soghum can ei­ther be unique or off- putting.

Guin­ness Africa Spe­cial:

Guin­ness For­eign Ex­tra Stout:

As men­tioned be­fore, Guin­ness For­eign Ex­tra Stout is a variant of Guin­ness that has been brewed out­side of Ire­land since 1801.

It re­cently cel­e­brated the 50th an­niver­sary of be­ing brewed in Malaysia, and, to date, re­mains one of Guin­ness’ most pop­u­lar yet un­der­rated beers.

Tast­ing FES af­ter hav­ing tried so many of Guin­ness’ other vari­ants re­ally high­lights just how good this beer re­ally is, and how much I’ve taken it for granted in the past.

It has an in­tense aroma of sweet, al­most coffee- like malt, and on the palate, it is one of the most full- bod­ied vari­ants in the en­tire range ( prob­a­bly due to it’s rel­a­tively strong 6.5% ABV), and has a creamy, sweet, malty palate that ends with a slightly bit­ter but ut­terly sat­is­fy­ing malty fin­ish.

The tast­ing at the OGB may have opened my eyes to the dif­fer­ent vari­ants of Guin­ness around the world, but in the end, the one variant that re­ally stands out for me is the one that gives me a taste of home.

Pur­chase five glasses or bot­tles of Guin­ness at par­tic­i­pat­ing out­lets through­out March and stand a chance to win one of 12 pairs of tick­ets for an ex­clu­sive hosted trip to Dublin. Also look out for the Guin­ness St Pa­trick’s ‘ Friendli­est Fridge’ at se­lected Malone’s out­lets ev­ery thurs­day this month – for cations and more de­tails, visit ce­book. com/ guin­ness­malaysia.

Michael Cheang has gained a hole new ap­pre­ci­a­tion for G in­ness FES. Drop him a note at the tipsy- turvy Face­book page ( face­book. com/ mytip­sy­turvy).

EL EANG/ the Star

the Open Gate Brew­ery is a work­ing mi­cro­brew­ery and pub si­t­u­ated within the main Guin­ness brew­ery.

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