Let's Talk Beer, Shall We?

Evenin’, SDMB. Long time listener, first time caller.

I generally dislike beer of all kinds. But for some odd reason, I have this hankering to keep trying new beers. I just can’t help myself! I know I probably won’t like it, but I do it anyway. I’m not sure why. But on to the topic at hand:

I Love Guinness. For a few years, it’s been my favourite. I cannot stand the classic American ales (bud light, et al). They smell bad, they taste bad, they are bad.

Of all the beers I’ve tried, it’s Guinness or nothing. I’ve done ales, hefes, porters, stouts… you name it, I’ve probably had it in some form or another. So my question(s) is(/are) threefold: What is it about Guinness that makes it better, to me, than the rest? Also, where can I find those qualities in other beers? Do you have suggestions for others I might try?

MacKesson’s Stout


A good Hefeweizen, as long as it’s served cold and in Cafe Society.




A nice porter in a local brewpub on a nitro tap.

If you want something that gives you not just the taste, but the texture of Guinness, look for beers on nitro lines. The smooth texture in Guinness is from nitrogen bubbles rather than carbon dioxide - the nitro bubbles are much smaller and less obtrusive, and it makes a big difference in the way the beer “feels” and tastes. Some bars or microbreweries will have a brew or two (usually something dark - porters or stouts seem to be the most common) on nitro lines, espcially during the winter.

(I’m assuming you’re a fan of Guinness Draught) For all it’s color and head, Guinness is a very mild flavored beer. This is partly because of the nitrogen - which gives it the creamy head and mouth-feel so many like, but also hurts the flavor. I would recommend stouts and porters, but you said you didn’t care for them. Have you tried Guinness Stout? It’s not nitro’d and has a bigger flavor profile.

Join up at http://beeradvocate.com/ and poke around the different styles (and the forums too). It’s one of the better beer sites around.

I had no idea about – had never heard of! – nitro lines!

That’s interesting. You’re right, I was referring to Guiness Draught. I’ve tried Guinness Extra Stout as well, and although it was good, it just wasn’t as good as the Draught. Again, that’s probably because of the Nitro.

I’ll take a look around beeradvocate, thanks!

I’m not shook on Guiness. In Ireland I would always have Caffery’s. You should try some English brews such as Spitfire or Badger.

I’ll add those to the To-Try list!

Small nitpick: Bud Light and those macrobrews are not ales, but lagers.

I bet it has a lot to do with the nitro tap, as mentioned above. It’s also a fairly “light” beer, alcoholwise and I would say tastewise, but some may disagree. It’s pretty mild for a stout, low in hops.

I don’t particularly like it, but you may enjoy Boddington’s. The canned version comes with a nitro widget, and the bars should have it on a nitro tap. I’ve also seen Smithwick’s Irish Ale on a nitro tap here, although, from what I understand, it’s not traditionally served with nitro in Ireland. Beamish is a stout similar to Guinness that you would probably enjoy as well.

Welcome aboard! I recommend setting your “location” field, because you can get better answers to questions like these if we at least know the country you’re in. If you’re not in the U.S. or Canada, get hold of some Guinness Foreign Extra. I’d like to know what you think of it.

As pulykamell mentioned, beers like Bud Light are neither ales nor classic. They are watered-down, chemically-enhanced, artificially-carbonated, tasteless versions of German-style lagers. Just for reference, porters and stouts are both ales, whereas the vast majority of mass-produced large-brewery North American beers are lagers. You’ll tend to find more ales from the British Isles and more lagers from Germany, Belgium, and others countries in that area.

A classic American ale would be something like Sierra Nevada Pale Ale or Samuel Adams Boston Ale (not their Boston Lager, and definitely not Sam Adams Light).

If you like the creamy smoothness of Guinness on draught, hie thee down to your nearest microbrewery or brewpub and see if they serve up any good porters on nitro.

If you like the taste of Guinness Draught and are looking for more, try an oatmeal stout. Lots of body, lots of flavor.

If you want something stronger and sweeter than Guinness, hunt down an Imperial stout. They’re hard to find, but a good liquor store or grocery store (depending on where you live) should be able to order one for you. Caution: the alcohol content of an Imperial stout will be about double what Guinness has–it’s actually a pretty low-alcohol beer.

If you can identify exactly what you like after sampling a few dozen (or a few hundred) ales, you might want to try homebrewing. You can pick up Guinness “clone” recipes almost anywhere and use them as a starting point.

Actually, if they’re brewing to style, all stouts will be low in hops.

Oops! misspoke, my fault.

I’ve got a can in the fridge right now, looking forward to trying it!

I tried Smithwicks (which my Wifey berated me for pronouncing as it’s spelled instead of “Smit-icks”!) in Ireland and although I can’t speak certainly as to whether it was nitro’d, I did not enjoy it then. Next time I get the opportunity, I’ll Smithwicks with Nitro. Thanks for the suggestions!

I thought I had set my location! Alas! I’ll figure it out. I’m in Carmel, Indiana, USA, if you’d like to know. I would love to get my hands on some Foreign Extra (I didn’t even know it existed until we went to the Guinness Brewery) – any ideas how I can get some?

Porter on Nitro. Noted.

On the one hand, I would -love- to homebrew! On the other hand… I watch Alton do it, and it seems like a lot of work. That’s right, I’m a lazy jerk.

(Currently Drinking: Bell’s Porter)

You might like a smoked beer.

I personally think they are like dying and waking up in a bier garten, drinking bier in Heaven.

They aren’t easy to find, though.

Yes, I realize now that I’ve made a complete mess of that sentence and what I was trying to say. Honestly, re-reading it, I have no idea where that hops comment was supposed to go. Like you said, stouts are generally supposed to be low in hops (unless you’re Three Floyd’s brewery, whose stouts even have an obvious hop signature.)

Have you tried Caffrey’s or Kilkenny? Both are nitro-poured Irish ales, and I believe the latter one is what a Smithwick’s with a nitro pour is sold as in Ireland. Either that, or it’s a very similar beer.

Oh, and I just noticed you’re in Indiana (although a bit south.) If you ever find yourself in Munster, stop by Three Floyd’s brewery and try their Black Sun stout. It’s a nitro pour stout, and quite fantabulous–a bit hoppier and maltier than Guinness. They also sell them in 22-oz bombers, but those are not nitro-ed.

I’m not a huge beer fan, but I try lots of different beers just to see what they’re like and because people keep asking me about them at work.

My “Normal” (ie, readily available on-tap non-wanker/obscure) beer is Toohey’s New, a very drinkable Lager.
If I’m somewhere with a decent selection, I’ll get James Squire’s Amber Ale, which is really nice but only available in bottles (you can’t get it on tap here, unfortunately).

Cascade Premium Light is a good “Light” beer, and the low-carb Pure Blonde isn’t bad either.

If you’re looking for a European-style lager that isn’t Heineken or from anywhere else in Europe, Tsingtao is very nice and I often recommend it to people who like Heineken and want to try something different.

Asahi is also worth your time, and Tetley’s is very nice indeed provided it’s drunk nice and cold with plenty of foam. Old Speckled Hen is a bit pricey but a nice drop, and you should try Elephant Beer at least once just so you can say you have. Just don’t drive for a couple of hours afterwards. :wink:

Alton was (dare I say it) a little unconventional in his home brew episode. It’s been a while since I’ve seen it, but I remember having a couple ‘huh?’ moments while watching it. Basic home brew is actually really easy, as long as you have really good sanitation practices and a little patience. It’s a hobby that’s very easy to get into, and it’s only as complicated as you make it. There are a bunch of homebrewers on the SDMB - I’ll bet if you started a thread with questions you’d get quite a few responses.

That’s my recollection, too. I believe I counted what I thought were three blatant errors of fact in that episode. I’d have to watch it again, but I remember being very disappointed in that particularly episode (I am otherwise very much a fan.)

Agreed. As easy as boiling water and running a dishwasher.

That’s where I discovered it, too. Unfortunately, they ship it just about everywhere in the world except North America. If you find a source here, let us all know!

Not to be critical, Martini, but he said he doesn’t like lagers, and your entire post was a big list of lagers.

You’ve been successful at doing your sanitizing in a dishwasher? Really? The hours and hours of hand-cleaning and hand-sanitizing were the only thing I didn’t like about homebrewing. If the dishwasher really does an adequate job, that makes my day.

Hours and hours? What were you doing? I’d just sprinkle some no-rinse sanitizer in a big sink, dip all my stuff in there, wait about 5-15 minutes (usually, I just let it sit while I boil my wort, or whatever), and done. No need for rinsing. The part of homebrewing that sucks is bottling. Everybody I know says once you keg, you’ll never go back to bottling again, but I haven’t gotten around to getting a keg yet.