28 April 2010

Black Irish

Today is my blog's fifth birthday and I'm celebrating with stout. Two kinds, in fact: The Porterhouse's new Celebration Stout (far right) hit the shelves last week. This is a scaled down revamp of the 2006 10th anniversary edition, a mere 7% ABV, in 33cl bottles. It still packs a punch, though: very bitter, mellowed only slightly by notes of coffee and very dark chocolate. More than anything it reminds me of Wrasslers XXXX in a way that the new bottled version of Wrasslers doesn't. So far so good, but how does it stack up against version 1?

It doesn't. While the new one is great by Irish standards, Celebration Stout from 2006 is world class. There's not really any bitterness left after three and a half years, instead it's exceptionally smooth and mellow with a boozy cherry liqueur complexity that, if I didn't know better, would have me swearing blind that it's barrel aged. Mrs Beer Nut said it reminds her of the milder sort of imperial stout produced by De Molen and I can see where she's coming from. A celebration indeed.

It's possible that the bitterness in the new bottles is because it's still a bit green, having only just come off the bottling line. My hazy memory from 2006 is that the original had this sort of aggressive hopping back in the day too. I'll be interested to see how it pans out: time to lay in the bottles.

And while I'm on the subject of new local beers, I picked up a four-pack of Guinness Black Lager in Belfast last Friday, where it's currently being test-marketed. On Saturday I was doing a bit of brewing, as is my wont, and needed something easy-going to to quench my thirst. Ice-cold, straight from the bottle is the recommended serving style so that's what I did. Then I waited for some flavour. Vainly. Trying to ignore the wateriness I found a hint of the mild sourness which passes for character in bottled Guinness Extra Stout, but nothing that makes black lagers worthwhile: no fresh roasted coffee or dry crispness. Any kind of decent yellow fizz would render this pointless.

Best of luck with it, Diageo. Here's hoping it's the thin end of a schwarzbier revolution leading to better things.

16 comments:

  1. Hoppy Blog Burpday. Damn fine way to celebrate, I must say.

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  2. Is there anywhere you can get the guinness in Dublin? Same question for the celebration actually. I did not see it in Sweeneys yet.

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  3. I got the Celebration in DrinkStore and have seen it in Redmond's too.

    No, the Guinness is strictly Norn Iron only, where it's being promoted very heavily in the pubs. I'll bring a bottle to the gig tomorrow, though won't be able to guarantee its temperature.

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  4. Tried Porterhouses bottled Oyster stout yesterday and really liked it. Must pick up a bottle of the celebration.

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  5. I must getme some of that Celebration Stout.

    Congrats on the milestone, by the way.

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  6. Happy anniversary! And thanks for coining the phrase "thin end of a schwarzbier revolution."

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  7. I'd get t-shirts done except no-one would believe I'm the thin end of anything.

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  8. Happy anniversary, maybe you should bake a cake with the guinness - they sent me a recipe once!

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  9. Happy anniversary!!

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  10. Say it, we're black and we're proud!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3paf2TLrgsg

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  11. Congratulations on the blogoversary!

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  12. Yeah, happy, er, birthday, or whatever. I think we made 3 years at some point last week, but we forgot to mark the occasion.

    What options do Guinness have left now? Guinness Yellow? Guinness Vier? Guinness Black Wit? (Actually, that last one might work...)

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  13. Happy 5th Anniversary, I hope we last as long. Hopefully you'll find takers for the other 3 bottles away of the Guinness. Might as well let a couple of others suffer :) I was lucky, my supplier split the packs so I only had to buy the one bottle, which shows they know their customers better than the Guinness marketing dept.

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  14. Thanks for the wishes, all.

    Bailey, I have to confess a sneaking feeling of jingoistic superiority that Guinness Red and the Black Lager, though made in Dublin, are only sold in the UK. Though of course it's only because your beer market has proper competition while ours doesn't.

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  15. Happy anniversary-- if a bit late! I'm so behind I will never catch up. I wonder if I can get the Celebration stout at the Porterhouse in Covent Garden? Even if it was a tad disappointing, from your description it sounds pretty good.

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  16. Thanks! And I'd be surprised if they didn't have it sooner or later.

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