I have had Smithwick's on pushed CO2 tap and think of it as that classic dreary keg ale Dave Line was warning about in the 1970s. In Chapter 11 of Pete Brown's 2003 book Man Walks into a Pub, entitled "Kegs, Casks and the Decline of Bitter" we learn what a kegged beer really is. It is not pretty:
Keg bitter is much more straight forward [than cask-conditioned]. It is filtered, pasturized and chilled, then sealed in a container and pumped up with carbon dioxide to make it more stable and consistent, and to prolong its life, so it stays in drinkable condition for months rather than days. Rather than yeast, it is the added carbondioxide that gives the beer its sparkel, the same as in fizzy pop or carbonated water. It is the stuff you see coming out of most pums on the bar. The keg is pressurized and gas is pumped into it to force the beer up the pipes. Keg bitter is, essentially, no diferent than a supermarket four-pack save for the size of the can.On tap, this fizzy pop of an ale is somewhat sweet, somewhat brown water. I have not had that many and many at all in recent years so I speak from recollection. But filtering removes tasty little particles of real stuff and pasturizing gives it that slightly parboiled feel. Without the yeast a brew like this is something like beer that never quite was.
So it is with some lack of a thrill that I approach the opening of the bottle I have yet to open, having written all of the above. It pours a big foamy head which resolves into large collapsing bubbles rather than a head. The first taste is soft of butterscotch with a dirty bitter edge. Aroma Dupontesque. A cloying taste is left in the mouth. That is about it. It is hard to imagine that 89% of advocatonians give this a thumbs up. It is also hard to imagine that this was made by Guinness.
500 ml bottle at the LCBO for somewhere between 2 and three bucks CND. Buy a Old Speckled Hen instead. If you want an Irish Red, find some Garrison Irish Red Ale from Halifax, Nova Scotia.