I find myself quite happy with how the Irish stout turned out. Its almost like a cold cup of coffee (which would be much better than a cold glass of gravy with a hair in it, in my opinion). Let me see if I can come up with some tasting notes while I imbibe this pint.
Color: Deep reddish brown to darn near black. It pours with a moderate tawny (bet ya didn’t think I could use a word like that) head that sticks around for a short bit. The lacing on the glass is a nice reminder of what once was.
Initial impressions: Straight off the tap the flavor is akin to espresso. Kegerator temp bottles up the more subtle flavors only allowing the sharp bitterness to come through. Even with that it is one I could easily enjoy.
After warming: For this pint I let it sit for a little while (about 10 minutes) so it could warm up a touch. After it warmed a bit smells of dark roasted malt began to shine through. At the same time, more of the sweetness came through in the flavor. The initial flavor you find is the malty sweetness followed up by the sharp bitterness of the roast on the aftertaste.
Overall Impression: I will follow some of my original statements about this beer. It is what I remember Guiness tasting like many years ago. I don’t know if anyone else remembers what it is I am talking about, but it seems some time ago Guiness had a bit more substance to it. Now we have this almost water black mass that seems to be apologizing for being what it used to be (at least in the US).
I think the only thing that would be a major improvement to this iteration of the Irish Stout would be to serve it off of a nitrogen tap. Of course, this makes me wonder, why did we start using nitrogen in the first place? I would imagine that even before CO2 dispensing all beers were dispensed by using a beer engine and kegs were naturally carbonated. Natural carbonation does give the beer a creamier mouth feel, at the cost of unpreditability. With forced CO2, the beer has a much more predictable carbonation. (I may be talking to myself in circles at this point.) It is believed that the nitrogen gives the beer a creamier feel akin to natural carbonation (as well as the more stable carbonation of forced CO2).
Back to the point, I am more wondering when the use of nitrogen came about. I think I have a project to sate my own curiosity at least. And of course, the project I have thought of for a long time as well; adding a beer engine to my personal bar. That could be something a bit different. Set it up to work with 1 gallon kegs or some such.
Stuff to ponder it would seem. A bit like the last of this pint before me…