If any one holiday is associated in the popular consciousness with beer, it has to be St. Patrick’s Day, and if any particular beer is associated with that day, it would have to be Guinness. Here in the US, we’re all familiar with Guinness Draught, but their Foreign Extra Stout accounts for 45% of Guinness sold worldwide.
According to a Guinnes press release, the beer originated in1801 under the name West India Porter. It had higher hopping and alcohol content to make it better able to survive trips to the Caribbean. It was imported into the US from 1817 until Prohibiton, was made available here during 1956 before being discontinued, and became available in the US again in 2010.
The Foreign Extra basically looks and tastes like a bigger, bolder version of the Draught. With a slightly aggressive pour, it came up nearly half rocky, tan head, atop a nearly opaque black. Even under a light, the characteristic Guinness red hue could not be seen. The aroma was actually fairly hop-forward for a stout: bitter, herbal, maybe even a tad astringent. Luckily, this is balanced by a very strong sweet malt character. At first it makes one think of chocolate milk. With time the flavor becomes more complex, with a bit of a molasses or toffee flavor. The beer is over all very sweet, maybe even a little creamy. The very slight sour note present in the Draught seems to be here as well. For all that malt, the beer is frothy, but not syrupy or sticky.
If you’re a fan of Guinness and of big beers, then this big version of a Guinness should work for you.