A Good Beer Blog


Have you read The Unbearable Nonsense of Craft Beer - A Rant in Nine Acts by Alan and Max yet? It's out on Kindle as well as Lulu.

Maureen Ogle said this about the book: "... immensely readable, sometimes slightly surreal rumination on beer in general and craft beer in particular. Funny, witty, but most important: Smart. The beer geeks will likely get all cranky about it, but Alan and Max are the masters of cranky..."

Ron Pattinson said: "I'm in a rather odd situation. Because I appear in the book. A fictional version of me. It's a weird feeling."


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Jeff Alworth -

Exquisite. Please review more bad beers.

Craig -

Soooo, no to the Extra Stout and yes to the FES?

I personally dig the FES. I wrote a post, back in June, about tropical stouts. I did an FES tasting, along with Coopers Best Extra and Dragon stouts—on an 85º day, in front of the grill, I might add—just to see if some stouts really do work in the heat. I was surprised, they were all pretty good on a hot day. All were complex, but not heavy and thick.

The Beer Nut -

You have your Guinnesses crossed there, Alan. There's no such thing as "Guinness Foreign Export". Your bottle there is Foreign Extra. What Ron drinks is Special Export. They're very similar, but slightly different.

I did a side-by-side of FES, SES, <i>a</i> North American Guinness Extra (dunno if it's the same one you have there) and Irish Guinness Extra earlier this year.

Gary Gillman -

Guinness Extra isn't bad but the FES is in a different league I'd say (too). I'd try aging them, Alan. Even though pasteurized, my experience is they both improve with about 6 months age. The FES can go even longer and was originally designed to be long stored.

The elements knit together.


The Beer Nut -

Gah! Stupid forgetting-how-Alan's-markup-tags-work.

Bailey -

OK, I thought the Beer Nut had the tasting note of the week with "Satan in an aran sweater" but "brown crayon" might beat it. Two very evocative words. Might need to go an buy some crayons and spend the day doing drorings, now.

The Beer Nut -

I just re-read my tasting note on this beer and where I have "a dry and slightly metallic tang on the end" Alan has "that tang of the plastic and cat sick on the carpet taste that I recall but, to be fair, it is very neatly tucked into a corner".

Which shows I need to work much harder on stealing Alan's prose style. My "WWAW" armband just isn't working.

Steve Lamond -

I was going to point out that tasting note too Bailey...Alan, how canyou be sure it smells of brown crayon and not violet crayon, have you been smelling with your eyes again or have you conducted rigorous testing into the smell of crayons. Also which brand of crayon?

Alan -

SL: Crayola. 1967. I was four and I remember.

BN: Your G Extra Stout to the right of the picture looks the same but I see the Irish claim. The one to the left could be it but you say it is 6% but mine is the Canadian standard 5% strength. And I would not call what I had sugary.

Craig: I will give it "complex" - yes, it sure was complex.

The Beer Nut -

Yes, the one on the right of mine is standard Irish bottled Guinness. It would have been clearer if I'd been able to get the normal distinctive pint bottle. My North American one didn't have an ABV on it, so I'm going on Internet rumour that it's the same as yours, made for the US market, but I could be totally wrong.

Ethan -

Guinness FES on a beach in the Caribbean is one of the best things that can happen to you, ever. that is all.

Velky Al -

Guinness FES is one of my favourite beers, it is simply magnificent. However, I am not sure I would be as harsh on the ES, simply because it is a major step up from the Guinness in a can or those widget bottle things, and usually better than Guinness on tap in a pub (though my local pub now has a rotating stout tap rather than a Guinness tap and we get O'Hara's on tap semi-regularly). Whilst on the subject of stouts, Cooper's Best Extra Stout is a rather delicious treat as well.

The Beer Nut -

@Ethan Ah, but Caribbean FES is a different drink again. I compared Jamaican and Irish FES here.

Alan -

See, I think Canadian ES is not the same as ES elsewhere but a different sort of unattractive creature - especially in the past - my past. No one would have chosen it in 1990 over widget can. See, you have to deal with the scarring I have suffered in my interpretations of all this. Note, however, the independent use of the adjective "harsh" here. More here on the use of gakky extract. More here, too.

Craig -

Here's my tropical stout breakdown: http://drinkdrank1.blogspot.com/2011/06/tropic-thunder.html

Joe Stange -

We can get the FES down here in Costa Rica. And frankly I am not sure what I would do without it.

Alan -

Do you pronounce it "fez"?

Craig -

Why did everybody else get a fancy underlined hyperlink "here" for their FES posts and I still have the crappy old URL?

The Beer Nut -

'Cos you just pasted the URL in instead of linking it via the href tag?

Mark -

The Guinness Extra Stout available in Canada is 5% and brewed by ABInbev (Labbatt). This is the awful drink Alan reviewed first.

The Guinness Special Export Stout that Ron P is a fan of, is by far the best Guinness made. For those passing through, it is currently available at the Bushwakker brewpub in Regina, SK.

Ethan -

I might be wrong, but I believe the FES imported to the US market _is_ the Caribbean one.

Brew Revolution -

Ahhh Guinness. You dark and seductive brand-bitch-slap you. I have constantly tried to give Guinness a new try in case I was wrong. It always dissapoints. <a href="http://www.brewrevolution.com/2011/09/beer-tasting-el-salvador-guinness-extra-stout/" I did not get quite as waxy as you did Alan but it still left me bitter and wrunzled.

Robert H. -

Well, I hate to sound like a know-it-all, but…

The Guinness Foreign Extra Stout available in the United States and Canada is made in Ireland, at St. James Gate, just like it should be. There are two Guinness Foreign Extra Stout's available in the Caribbean, one brewed by Desnoes & Geddes in Jamaica, and one brewed by Carib in Trinidad & Tobago, and neither are available in America.

There are also, confusingly, two Guinness Extra Stout's made in Canada: one is made by Labatt's for the Canadian market (which is what Alan reviewed here), one is made by Moosehead for the American market (which is what The Beer Nut reviewed.)

As far as I know, none of these are Labbat 50 with syrup added.

Oh, and that “tang” is what makes Guinness Guinness, and different from nearly all other stouts and porters made today (although it was originally a defining characteristic of the style.) Complaining about it being there is like someone drinking a double IPA and complaining that it's hoppy, drinking a lambic and complaining it's sour, or drinking a light beer and complaining it's light. You might not enjoy it, and you don't have to, but it is supposed to taste like that, and those who love Guinness love it for tasting like that (like, uh, me!)

Alan -

I actually bought my my Guinness in the states and, no, you do not sound like a know it all.

But you do sound like a buffoon. Telling someone else what something tastes like to them while seemingly suggesting that all Guinnesses are the same and equally worthy is about the thickest thing I can imagine posting as a comment.

Robert H. -

I wasn't trying to tell “someone else what something tastes like to them”, or suggest that “all Guinnesses are the same and equally worthy”, at all, and don't know why you got that from my post, and, honestly, I'm sorry that you did!

All I'm saying is that a flavor you described (“that tang of the plastic and cat sick on the carpet taste”) vividly brought to mind a flavor I taste in every Guinness to some extent or another, that I happen to love (despite how unappetizing you made it sound), and which defines an essential part of the classic “Guinness” flavor to me (that is to say, what makes every Guinness — no matter how different they may otherwise be — taste like a “Guinness”, and not just any other random generic stout.) Maybe I was wrong and you were describing something else entirely? I don't know…

As far as saying all Guinness are the same and equally worthy, I don't feel that way at all! I've only ever actually had the three available in America, and of those I find Guinness Draught fairly mediocre (I hate all that nitrogen nonsense, and it's too watered down to stand up to even the blandest of bar food), but I like Guinness Extra Stout (it was the first beer I ever drunk, and it's still the one I've drunk the most, and find it an enjoyable, easy drinking, yet fairly distinctive and flavorful “everyday” sort of a beer), and Guinness Foreign Extra Stout is very possibly my favorite beer (although it's a bit too strong for me to drink in quantity, and I don't keep any sort of list of “favorite” beers.)

Oh, and sorry about being mistaken about where you got your Guinness — all that talk about Labatt's got me confused…

Alan -

Good defense. Solid, kind but neither needy or overly assertive. All is forgiven.

What I can't stand is this: coming around and using a comment to tell someone they are an arse. Thought you had. You didn't. My fault entirely. Sorta. I am not going to fisk your comment to point out where I was led astray as that is bad manners.

The things is this. I really liked the FES and half-detested or at least was fully gakked by the ES. I really really really have never like the Canadian product and have no idea why they continue it. It is crap. In fact, I have never met anyone who liked it. But you do. That is enough for me to think again. Not because it is nice to be nice (which it is) but because it is a big world out there. And someone may well like what I take to be the tang of the plastic and cat sick on the carpet.

Well done, Robert. You have turned me 180 degrees in a very short turning circle. I would apologize but, really, better I should thank you for your honesty and clarity.

The Beer Nut -

An insider tells me that the tang, once derived from the mini beasties living in the wooden brewing equipment, is now achieved with food-grade lactic acid added to the recipe.

Alan -

I'd send you some of the Canadian stuff just to prove my point. It is ghastly whatever the hell it is they add.

Ethan -

Fair enough; the FES available in the US is not entirely unlike the FES available in the Caribbean market, however. 7.5% ABV, and roasted-bitter as all hell, in a lovely way.