What is brand extension and what is letting brewers brew? If you are a garage project, you are the latter but if you are owned by a multi-national corporation then it is always the latter. Or so it is said.
I say, try the beer first, then decide. With St. Patrick’s Day on the horizon, this is a good chance to test the beer instead of your pre-conceived notions as Guinness has two new porters arriving stateside. Both are based on historical recipes from the Guinness brewing books. Recipes that are over 200 years old.
Start with the Dublin Porter at an extremely low 3.8% ABV. I found it to have a lovely aroma and a mix of sweet and smoky at the same time. It is very light and won’t please those Imperial Stout fans but I found it just right for an afternoon after a rain shower when Los Angeles has blue skies and sun but also a little wind blowing. There is quite a bit of minerality as well as some caramel notes too.
Next up is the West Indies Porter (an early iteration of what would become the Foreign Extra Stout). This beer is stronger at 6.0% ABV, pours that familiar dark brown, and has a definitive toast aroma wafting out of the glass. This porter is more in line with what I associate with Guinness. Smoke notes, salt, an erstaz Rauchbier as it were. Chocolate notes peek out from underneath as well.
Both beers come from The Brewers Project. You can call it R&D or those tired of brewing the traditional Guinness. They are the ones responsible for the Nitro IPA that I found a little light on hops (should have been called an Irish Pale in my opinion) as well as Guinness Blonde which is a little too pitched to mass market lager crowds for my liking. Speaking of issues, 11.2 ounces per bottle for these porters? How much is Diageo saving by lopping off .8 ounces?
Whatever you imbibe to celebrate Celtic culture, make sure it is what you want and not what a beer snob or a marketing campaign tells you to drink. I still think that Guinnesss Draught from the can is still unbeatable.
Your Beer of the Week is the Worst. Transplants Brewing has inexplicably linked up with the Worst Beer Blog for a collaborative IPA, “Hops are a Preservative.” This 7.2% ABV beer is labeled an “Indiana Pale Ale” and will be on tap at the Transplant’s taproom in Palmdale and also is entered into Mohawk Bend’s L.A. IPA Fest this weekend (which you should visit either Saturday or Sunday for the leftovers).
Planning a craft beer trip and traveling to and from breweries can be a hassle. Especially on the highways of the greater Los Angeles area. Now there is a new-ish website and app that can help you with the logistics of tasting beer in L.A. HopPlotter puts their map front and center with markers indicating where breweries are located plus colors that let you know if they are currently open or not. You can plot an itinerary and share it with friends so that everyone can find their beervana.
Find more of Sean Inman’s writing on his blog, Beer Search Party.