Macro Showdown – Foreign, Foreign Stouts

I originally intended this “showdown” idea to be a regular feature of this here blog- I’ve failed completely at that.  This is only the second iteration but it should be a good one.

The contenders

I picked up a can of Murphy’s Irish Stout some time back and never got around to drinking it.  I went home on leave in August and picked up a couple four packs of Beamish Irish Stout to go along with our carbombs (more on that later) and still had one left at the end of the night.  I was looking at both the cans the other day, trying to decide which to open first and, *ding, idea.  I knew it was showdown time again.  I picked up a can of Guinness Draught yesterday so I could compare the two lesser known stouts to the king of ’em all.  Guinness is pretty easy to find in Japan, the others aren’t, though I have seen Murphy’s a few times lately but never on tap.  Have the bars picked the best stout to tout?  Or are they pulling the Super Dry over your eyes again?  Well, it looks like it’s time to crack ’em open and find out.


Guinness Draught – 4.5% abv. Pours a very dark brown with that famous creamy, tan head with sinking bubbles.  That widget really was a good invention- if you like a nitrogen head on your stout.  Just a bit of roasted and coffee malts in the aroma with some chocolate as well.  It’s mild, though.  I while back I heard that the proper way to drink a Guinness was to suck the beer through the head.  I’m not really certain what that means, but if it is supposed to imply that you should get some head with each sip then we are on the same track.  The beer itself is weak in flavor.  Very light roasted malts with some cocoa and a sour finish.  When taken with the head a little more of the roasty flavor comes through, though not much.  It’s easy to see why this is the most popular dark beer in the world.  Like it’s pale lager brethren, it’s low in flavor which makes it very inoffensive. That also makes it quite boring.  I used to drink this stuff by the gallon, but have since backed off as it’s just not worth the price you’re going to pay in Japan for such little flavor.

Is your can compensating for something?

Murphy’s Irish Stout – 4% abv. Ah, now that’s a can size I can get behind.  Deep brown in color with a tan head and while it has sinking bubbles too, I think it has one or two fewer.  That’s alright, though, that head is firm and creamy.  The aroma is mild, but still stronger than the guinness.  Roasted malts, milk chocolate, and is that molasses?  No, it can’t be- right?  No.  No, it isn’t.  It is the faintest bit of caramel malt though.  I swear it’s there.  The Murphy’s is much less sour than the Guinness which aids drinkability.  It’s super smooth and quite tasty.  Roasty malts, light cocoa, some coffee, and a dry, lightly chalky finish.  I like this one.  I like it a lot, actually.  Foreign stouts aren’t monsters of flavor and this one is no different, but it’s got a bit more than Guinness and what is there is a little more enjoyable.  I know why Guinness is sour, but I don’t think it works very well for them.  Murphy’s has only the lightest sourness going on and makes it a much more accessible stout.  Why isn’t this one easier to find?  I bet this would sell better side by side if it weren’t for brand recognition.

Does size really matter?  Murphy’s was better than Guinness and was served in a taller can- will Beamish make up for it’s can size or is Murphy’s gonna take the gold?

Best of both worlds

Beamish Irish Stout – 4.1% abv. Beamish is just a touch lighter than the other two but has all the same characteristics.  Dark brown color.  Tan, firm head.  Bubbles that head to the bottom of your glass.  Very light malts in the aroma along with light chocolate malts and some sourness.  Nice flavor.  It strikes me as a cross of the two.  Light roasted malts and a hint of chocolate but also a nice sour, dry finish. Such a smooth mouth I hardly recognize this as a stout.  The aftertaste on this one is by far the best, though.  Roasted malts, light chocolate, and just a little sourness keeps bringing me back for more.  Yep.  This is the winner.  It has the dry roasted maltiness of the Murphy’s with the sour finish of the Guinness- though thankfully toned down a bit.

World Beater

So it’s Beamish that joins the lofty ranks of Macro Showdown winner.  I’m sure they’ll be coming out with a special, limited edition can label touting it’s victory pretty soon.  It wasn’t a landslide for Beamish, though as this could have easily gone the other way for Murphy’s.  I contemplated switching the two for quite some time before finally deciding this was the best course of action.  Both of them are more enjoyable than the Guinness which means marketing is more powerful than quality in the beer world yet again.  It’s a sad fact but very true.

So, #2 is in the books.  It was fun.  I am buzzed.  What am I to do now?  Bars?  Yep.

Oh, carbombs.  You know what I mean by that, right?  1/2 oz Bailey’s Irish Cream, 1/2 oz Jameson’s Irish Whiskey, one pint of stout!  Traditionally, Guinness is used but the Beamish makes for a fuller, tastier drink.  So tasty!  If you haven’t had one, think Wendy’s frosty (or chocolate milkshake).  I wrote this post last night but didn’t get the photos edited until today.  In the time it took to get this up DH, from Good Beer and Country Boys, twitter’d that Beamish was his preference for carbombs as well.  Good beer minds…


8 thoughts on “Macro Showdown – Foreign, Foreign Stouts

  1. Chuwy

    Not gonna say “I told you so” but…
    There are gonna be quite a few ‘Irish’ wanabee xth generation who are gonna be p*ssed at this.
    The Guinness faithful.
    Faith implies belief, acceptance of an idea or theory without supporting evidence.
    I back up your findings, based on evidence – experiece, both my own and other people’s.

  2. Chuwy

    p.s. A while back, I found a place selling Murphy’s for 150 a can. Got me one or two – dozen.
    Murphy’s has been on tap at a few places this year. Beamish has popped up once ot twice (Faulte had it once, I think).
    I do think Guinness is better on tap than from those silly little black cans, though.
    Definitely Beamish, Murphy’s, Guinness, in that order. Good call.
    I’ll stop stalking your blog post now.

  3. Capa

    I agree that Guinness is a little better on tap than in can, though Murphy’s and Beamish would still win, I say. I would love to find the other two on tap sometime. I guess I’ll have to keep my eye on your Booze list a little closer- now if only my work would stop blocking it, argh!

    Stalk away!

  4. “I’m sure they’ll be coming out with a special, limited edition can label touting it’s victory pretty soon.”

    Heh-heh. Au contraire, one of Heineken’s first acts as the owner of Beamish was to end international distribution of it: this may be one of the last cans you’ll see. Whether that means they’ll ramp up their production and distribution of Murphy’s remains to be seen. I doubt it though.

    Personally I’d have put Murphy’s ahead of the other two, but I’ve never tried this with cans, only draught. A bunch of us in Dublin did a blind tasting last year, which also included O’Hara’s — a stout made by an actual Irish company as opposed to a British or Dutch one.

    And, may I just say as an Irishman, that having a cocktail called a “car bomb” is in exceedingly poor taste.

    1. Capa

      Ah, Heineken. One more reason to stay away from their brews it would seem. I’d love to have tried these on tap but only Guinness is easy to find out here.

      I agree that “car bomb” is a poor choice for a drink name- though until a few months back never gave it a thought. Chuwy (from comments above) pointed it out to me during a discussion once. Do the Irish drink much of that cocktail? I’m sure it goes by a better name if they do.

      Thanks for the comment!

  5. The Car Bomb. Loved by American college kids!! I believe the drink is called an Irish Car Bomb because it’s…..made with Irish booze and in poor taste. That was the point, but no one that I have ever met in the US even thinks about it. Doesn’t make it right though! If someone ordered a ‘World trade Bomb’ I think many would be offended as well….

    Capa..while in college me and some buds ordered a round of CBs at our local bar. The guy behind the bar asked us if we wanted Beamish instead of Guiness. We said we would try, but were skeptical. Let’s just say that after the drinks, I always ask if the bar has Beamish!

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