So, you like Guinness. While I don’t drink it very often anymore, Guinness Draught is a good beer with a long history and loyal following, and I’m not telling you to stop drinking it, especially on St. Patty’s Day. Guinness is a dry Irish stout, and its most enduring attributes may be the downward cascading effect of the bubbles and the thick creamy head that settles on top of your glass. People are often mesmerized by this process, and rightfully so. It looks pretty cool. This effect is accomplished via the use of forced nitrogen and a restrictor plate on the tap. Most draft beer is force carbonated with just CO2 when poured into your glass. But, beers on a nitrogen tap, such as Guinness, are carbonated with a mix of nitrogen and CO2. Nitrogen is less soluble than CO2, which allows the beer to be poured under high pressure through the restrictor plate in order to create the cascading affect and creamy head.
Many people equate dark beers with high alcohol and a heavy body, but Irish stouts, including Guinness, are actually very low in alcohol. The popular Guinness Draught that you see everywhere is in the range of just 4.1% to 4.3% ABV. In comparison, Bud Light is 4.2% ABV. Despite its jet black color, Guinness is a very sessionable beer and is medium bodied.
So, if you like Guinness why should you think about trying something else? First of all, variety is a good thing. Second, you just might like some of these better than Guinness. Irish stouts are a very popular style, and there are many other options available from some great local breweries. Third, for any of you that try and live a low impact, green lifestyle, drinking a local brew is something you should be interested in. Not to mention, supporting local businesses can be a good thing.
Below are just a few examples of locally available beers that are similar to Guinness. All of these are served on nitrogen taps.
Big Time Buck Mulligan’s Dublin Stout – This seasonal beer from the U-district’s Big Time Brewey might be the best example of an Irish stout you’ll find in the city. It is available for a limited time at the brewpub. Stop on by tonight to grab some, when they’ll have bag pipers come visit around 8pm or 9pm.
Black Raven Morrighan Stout – Black Raven Brewing has made quite a name for themselves since opening in Redmond last year, and you’ll understand why if you give this classic example of an Irish stout a try. The Morrighan is available year-round as part of their standard lineup of beers. But, if you are planning on going to Black Raven today to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, they will have two casks of the Morrighan Stout aged with treacle and Irish whiskey soaked oak chips starting at 4pm.
Moylan’s Dragoons Dry Irish Stout – This 5% ABV Irish stout took a Gold medal at the 2007 Great American Beer Festival, and it is available in 22oz bottles. At least, I think it is available in Seattle…I swear I’ve seen it recently. If you’re looking for a bottle, try calling some of the bottle shops listed my retailers links.
Snoqualmie Falls Black Frog Nitro Oatmeal Stout – Snoqualmie Falls puts their own twist on the classic style by using rolled oats to give the beer an extra smooth texture along with the nitrogen tap. They also use chocolate malt to bring out more chocolate and coffee in the taste. It is available at the Snoqualmie Falls taproom and at select accounts around Seattle.
Even more options:
Diamond Knot Steamer Glide Stout
Hale’s Dublin Style Cream Stout
Elysian Daedalus Irish Stout
Boundary Bay Dry Irish Stout
This is the first in a series of posts targeted at people who enjoy popular mainstream beers to introduce them to similar craft products from smaller, and often local, breweries.