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Apr 23, 2014

Beer Break

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Beer Break Vol. 1, No. 25
More 'draught' talk

Feb. 22, 2002

Last week, we wrote about the "Guinness Draught" beer that drinkers are supposed to swig directly from the bottle. It is being test marketed in Illinois. We received this response from a reader in England:

"It is rather sad that you see fit to promote the appalling bottled 'draught' Guinness in your latest newsletter. The fact that Guinness has been using nitrogen for dispense of its stout for many years does not distract from that fact that the more recent 'draught' in a can and now in a bottle are poor substitutes for the real Guinness. The once treasured bottle-conditioned Guinness is sadly only a memory but what a magnificent beer it was, these more recent innovations are quite frankly rubbish.

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"Furthermore the promotion of drinking any beer direct from a bottle must surely be an anathema to any serious beer drinker. Tell me, how are you supposed to savour the aroma? Or is there none? It is a disgusting habit.

"What will you be suggesting we do next? Make a shandy with a Cantillon gueuze? Please get back to being a responsible newsletter and let's have none of this nonsense!"

We sent Ian M. Garrett a note back asking permission to use his letter because it allows us to make a couple of points. First, our goal with this weekly missive it to provide interesting tips for novices and aficionados alike. There are times we may rave about how great specific beers are or give you a thumbs up on particular products, but we don't want you to think that just because we write about something we are endorsing it.

(Remember when we wrote about hangover cures and the one that called for a mixture of bitter almonds and raw eel? We definitely weren't endorsing that one!)

The second point is specific to Guinness and this new product. We wish that Guinness still made its bottle-conditioned stout widely available. However, the presence of Draught Guinness in the marketplace broadens the beer spectrum. Its emphasis on quality control challenges other brewers to do the same, it has put beer with flavor on on offer at places you might not otherwise get it, and profits from selling Guinness allow many pubs to stay in business (while serving more of the beers we write about here).

That said, don't view this "draught in a bottle" as a scientific breakthrough. If you don't want to taste a beer, then drink it very cold from a can or bottle. If you do want to enjoy the flavor then serve it at a proper temperature in a proper glass.

Tasting notes

When we wrote Ian that we'd like to use his note, he replied:

"I have long been a fan of stouts and after the demise of real bottled Guinness I discovered that there were still excellent bottled stouts out there. I particularly enjoy Cooper's Stout from Australia, which has been available over here for the past ten years or so. More recently through working at the Great British Beer Festival on the 'foreign' bar ('Bieres Sans Frontieres') I have discovered what I believe to be two of the finest bottled stouts available: Sierra Nevada Stout and Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout, and probably my favourite real draught stout, Rogue Shakespeare Stout."

Ian is right -- those are all great beers. It reminded us of the astonishing number of excellent stouts available today from breweries that didn't even exist 5, 10 and 15 years ago. Here are a couple that don't have as high a profile ...

OASIS ZOSER STOUT
Brewed by the Oasis Brewery in Boulder, Colorado

Michael Jackson's tasting notes:

The beer, which has an almost tarlike appearance and a very dense head, has a fragrant, perfumy, bitter-chocolate aroma and palate; a firm body; and a smoky finish reminiscent of a smooth Scotch malt whiskey.

MOGOLLON APACHE TROUT STOUT
Brewed by Mogollon Brewing in Flagstaff, Arizona

Roger Protz' tasting notes:

Try saying that after a few pints. As black as Hades with a touch of ruby when held to the light, this is a delectable stout in the English rather than Irish tradition, sweet but not cloying, with an entrancing and inviting aroma of roast grain, creamy malt and licorice. Hops make an entrance on the tongue, their prickle and tartness beautifully cutting the richness of the dark malt and bitter fruit. Malt and fruit dominate the finish but the hops hit back with a late burst at the back of the throat. Rich, ripe, full-bodied and delightful, a superior stout that would be a fine companion for seafood dishes.

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