Beer Break Vol. 1, No. 24
'Draught' ... straight from the bottle
Feb. 15, 2001
Those folks at Guinness are at it again. Back in the 1980s they told us that
"draught" beer didn't have to come from a keg or cask, that it could be
poured from a specially fitted can. Now they are introducing the U.S. market
to a "Guinness Draught" that you can drink right from the bottle. The product
has been available in Ireland for about two years.
First, a bit of history. Guinness began using nitrogen in dispensing draft
stout in the 1960s, offering what has become know as a classic Guinness pour
that resulted in a beer topped with a creamy white head. Talented bartenders
can even draw a shamrock in it if you want ... but that's a different story.
In 1988, the Irish brewery launched Guinness Draught in cans. Each can came
with a "widget" inside it. The widget was refined and made its way from the
United Kingdom to most of the world, including the United States, in the
1990s. You pop the top on one of these cans, wait a few seconds and then pour
out a Guinness that looks much like it would in a proper Irish pub.
This device was so unique that it earned Guinness the Queen's Award for
Technological Achievement in 1991. Many other brewers have since put
British-style ales in "nitro" cans (and sometimes bottles), including Irish
stout producers Murphy's and Beamish. But in every case, you've still got to
pour your beer into a glass to get a creamy head.
Or you did until Guinness began offering drinkers a "draught" they are told
they should drink right from the bottle. Guinness is rolling out the beer in
Illinois and backing the test up with an advertising campaign in print, on
the radio and in TV commercials.
The commercials focus on a "rocket widget" that rattles when drinkers shake
the bottle. The 2 1/2-inch long plastic, rocket-shaped device floats inside
the bottle and is "activated" when the bottle is opened. Each time the bottle
tips, a mixture of gases is released, creating the same creamy head Guinness
drinkers expect when ordering the beer on tap.
The 11.2-ounce bottles come with the admonition to "Drink it straight from
the bottle." It also has a message: "Hear something? That's the new floating
draught system deliver you the great taste of Guinness Draught. To really
enjoy Guinness Draught, chill for at least 2 hours. Drink straight from the
The wrapper on the bottle is a dark black where you see beer in other
bottles, and a creamy white in the neck area. We guess the idea is to
simulate the look of Guinness in a pint glass. If you peel off the wrapper
you'll see a couple of inches of billowing head that's renewed each time you
tilt the bottle.
The beer is creamy, but you certainly don't get the aroma of Guinness served
in a glass. Guinness has done a great job the last five years of dispatching
"draft technicians" across the United States to teach publicans how to pour a
proper pint and patrons how to appreciate them. One of the first things one
of these technicians will tell you after presenting a pint is to dive in
below the creamy head and get your mouth and tongue into the beer itself.
This happens naturally when you drink from the bottle -- but you won't end up
with a creamy mustache in the process.
That Guinness is backing this test with plenty of advertising dollars
indicates they expect the new "draught" product to be a hit. We know better
than to bet against them. We've already heard reports from Illinois that it
makes a great "badge" in bars and at parties.
We do hope, however, that nobody does something silly -- like pretending that
the plastic widget is akin to the worm at the bottom of a bottle of tequila.
(Don't worry, it is designed so it won't come out. You'd have to break the
bottle neck to get to it.)
ST BERNARDUS TRIPEL
Brewed in Belgium
Michael Jackson's tasting notes:
Almost iridescent, orange colour; the aroma of rosewater; surprisingly light
on the tongue for such a strong beer; a palate that suggests vanilla, cookies
and sesame seeds; and a tangerine-like finish.
SHIPYARD FUGGLES IPA
Brewed by Shipyard Brewing Co. Portland, Maine
Mitch Steele's tasting notes:
This single-hopped brew has an aroma that is largely hop: herbaceous, spicy,
and woody, with a hint of graininess. I found the hop aroma to be deeper and
more interesting than I would have thought for a single variety. The slightly
drying finish makes you want to drink more. If you want to experience the
full flavor profile of the classic English Fuggles hop, this is a great beer