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Sunday 20 June 2010

Guinness in a can? Yes please

Forgive may think that I have gone mad but the other day I had Guinness in a can that I actually ENJOYED! No it was not infact a trick someone was playing on me by sticking a Guinness logo on another can it really was tasty Guinness from a can....well almost.

Before I tell you how to get a pint of good Guinness from a can I should explain one thing. Guinness has always been my fall-back drink. Im sure most of the beer bloggers have one. We've all been there, you go into an unknown pub and find they have absolutely nothing in the way of good cask or bottled beer and it leaves you with a bit of a problem. Certainly near where I am if a pub doesnt specialise in cask beer then it is likely it will have Greene King if you are lucky or Belhaven Best or Tennants Ember if you are not. The prospect of any of those drinks never fills me with confidence so I usually bounce straight back to the drink that was infact my first ever pint in a pub, Guinness. So there you go, I am not saying that Guinness is the best thing since sliced bread (though it is a bit like drinking it) but I am saying that I do enjoy a pint when the bar is barren.

Back to the canned stuff though. Guinness tried and failed in 2009 to launch 'surger' units in Tesco. The idea was that you paid £16.99 (yes, its a crazy price) and you get a pint glass, a surger unit and two tins of special 'surger' Guinness. The Guinness that is in the can is apparently the stuff that is in the keg before it goes through the chiller etc etc. After you used the two tins you then went back to Tesco and bought cans of the surger Guinness to use because the usual stuff explodes everywhere when you put it on the surger.

Basically the surger sends a sonic pulse through the bottom of the glass and up through your flat pint of Guinness and it eventually settles out to look like a nice pint of the black stuff. Nevertheless it never took off. Tesco were lumbered with huge amounts of stock and Guinness never really bothered with a full advertising campaign so it faded away. That is until now though.....Diageo are slowly starting to reintroduce pub sized versions of the surger into places that struggle to sell a full keg of Guinness during its peak freshness. In other words small rural pubs and that is exactly where I got to give the surger a whirl.

I was very sceptical about tinned Guinness as I have had it once before in first year of University and I swore never to have it again. In my opinion canned Guinness is to the world of beer what Christine Hamilton is to the world of professional darts, bollocks. So very worried I cracked open the Guinness surger can and poured away. It could only be described as black and VERY flat. A little drop of water on the surger (I have no idea why but I am sure there is a reason) and place the glass on and press the button. What happens next is a little moment of magic as you watch the head mysteriously appearing and shooting up the glass as if Paul Daniels was in the room. You need to give it the same time to settle as a regular pint and it does look the part I have to be honest.

Now for the most important part- The taste; Well it tastes like a pint of Guinness as if it was poured from the tap. Maybe even a bit creamier or that could have been my imagination. I was quite shocked I have to be honest but it does really taste like a normal Guinness. As far as cost goes I think it levels out at about the same. The pubs that they are targeting with this gadget this time around are small pubs which normally lose a lot of Guinness to the drain as they cant sell it quick enough. Therefore when you factor in that the cans are more expensive cost price but wastage will be reduced, it probably works out the same for both landlord and (hopefully) consumer.

I have to be honest, I dont see this kicking off in Weatherspoons as they have a big enough turnover to sell kegged Guinness but for places which struggle I can see this being a great alternative. Personally I struggled to tell the difference between this and normal Guinness but I would be interested to see how a regular Guinness drinker faired with this device. In the meantime I think I will stick to seeking out craft beer and just use Guinness (surger or not) as a fall back drink.


Wednesday 2 June 2010

Jaipur- A legend in its time?

You know that beer right? The one with all the hype. In every beer community whether it be in Chicago, Kent or Brussels there are always a handfull of beers that get an unbalanced amount of airtime on blogs and in conversation about beer. Not that I think all hyped beer is a bad thing right enough. There are many breweries and beers that I would probably never have touched hadnt it been for someone blogging and hyping up the beer. Whether it be Mark Dredge and his praise for Marble or Richard at MyBreweryTap telling me that I had to try some Crown Unpronouncable IPA.

One beer that springs to mind when I think about hyped UK beer is Thornbridge Jaipur. From the very first smell of this beer I could tell I was in for something that I hadnt quite bargained for. The aroma was fresh, a little pine and a balance of citrus and malt. The nose is very well balanced but that doesnt quite prepare you for just how balanced this beer actually is. Every sip of Jaipur is a pleasure with its perfect balance of sweet malt and a shovel full of citrus and pine hop. It is quite simply a piece of art in a glass.

Jaipur makes me wonder why more UK breweries dont give a little bit more trust to the powers of the hop. Jaipur is a perfect example that you can make (under UK standards) a well hopped beer and still balance it out and make it perfectly quaffable. It has inspired me more to finally seek out Thornbridge on cask and this is a little trip I am already working on. Naturally I'd also love to see the brewery but maybe I will wait till after September so that they dont think that I am a spy!

So thanks Thornbridge, thank you for restoring my faith in English IPA. I have another two offerings to drink from Thornbridge in the coming weeks, St Petersburg and Halcyon thanks to MyBreweryTap and I am looking forward to these even more now. Thanks for reading and thanks for sharing a part of my craft beer education. Next review should be coming very soon for Great Divide Hercules Double IPA too


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