Shiner Ruby Redbird

Shiner Ruby Redbird

Shiner Ruby Redbird

I was trying to get into the mood to write this while drinking one of these, but the darn thing just sploodged foam all over. Something about that first sip gets some beer so excited that is just foams up and starts erupting all over your hand. Awkward!

You have to be living under a rock or in a third world country to not at least recognize the Shiner Bock name, since the Spoetzl brewery in Texas has been making that since 1913 (minus a few years for Prohibition, I assume). It always makes me think of my dad for some reason, but I guess if they’re bringing Old Spice back, they can bring some of these older breweries.

But Ruby Redbird? Hm. I’m willing try any beer once, but I’ve had a few barf-tastic experiences with these mixed concoctions. Grapefruit juice and ginger? I would not have asked for one of these unless a trusted bartender hadn’t waggled her eyebrows at me a told me I would like it.

I did like it, and in turn passed along the joy to a few friends and my whole wine-loving book club. And The Man even.

Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t a BEER. Not a real beer. But it’s pretty dang good for a flavored beer. On a hot Florida summer’s day, you’re going to want one of these instead of a fancy flavorful IPA or stout. It’s like a gateway beer for your friends who drink Bud Light.

So, flavor? No it doesn’t taste like a public restroom air freshener like some of these citrus beers do. It’s got some bready, malty beer flavor at the base, and round, ruby red grapefruit at the top. And just popping in the middle are hints of candied ginger. Nothing crazy. Nothing to get the hardcore beer fanatics all up in arms. A nice light, crisp beer that at 4% ABV, is not going to get you running around the pool twirling your bathing suit over your head.

[I originally had this at Loosey’s in a can, but have found it both canned and bottled at a lot of grocery stores and liquor stores.]

Shiner Ruby Redbird
6-pack cans or bottles
Shiner.com

Sam Adams, Porch Rocker

So why does this bottle of Sam Adams Porch Rocker beer have a bag over its head? Why do you think?

Remember way back in high school… I mean college when you had just turned 21. Remember Zima? Yeah, that. Imagine someone drank a lot of Zima, then grew up and wanted to make a beer that tasted like it. Yes, that’s a strange idea, but you can’t stop people from doing silly things. Like face tattoos.

Better yet, imagine a mild but acceptable beer had ‘maritals’ with a glass of off-brand country-style lemonade drink. Their child would be this beer. Not bad. Not actually bad. Just not… good.

I take that back. I’m going to hazard a guess that if you’re at the beach on a hot day, with sunblock smeared all over your sizzling skin, and you pop open a frosty bottle of Porch Rocker, you’re going to make those nom-nom-nom, lip smacking sounds of satisfaction. You might put the empty bottle in your neighbor’s recycling bin when you’re done, but that’s probably for the best.

If you drink this beer and you like this beer, I’m not judging. Really, I’m not. You have to drink what you like. And you have to like what you drink. It got a rating of 79% on BeerAdvocate.com, and a 39 on rateBeer.com (basically averaging 2.94 out of 5.0). So some people thought it was acceptable.

As for Zima and the like, a lovely term has been kicking around – malternatives. Nothing like beer, except in the eyes of a noob.

[Girl21]

P.S. Looking or a good read? Try this article: The Long, Slow, Torturous Death of Zima

Hogtown Craft Beer Festival 2012

It’s bad luck to call your event “1st Annual” but I hope that’s what this was. We look forward to the 2nd Annual Hogtown Craft Beer Festival at Kanapaha. Very much.

We’ve been attendees and fans of the Greater Gator Beer Fest for some time, but when faced with a choice, decided to try the new one at Kanapaha rather than the GGBF a few weeks earlier at Magnolia Park. Sorry, we did have to choose for financial reasons, and we’re glad we chose this one.

Not that it was perfect. Next year they’ve got to figure out the food situation. Guests were invited to buy a ‘Food Pairing’ ticket for an additional $15 (or purchase food separately), but at the end of the day the vendors were just giving their food away to anyone. The food area was also somewhat separated from the beer tasting field, so it was awkward. And the absolute worst offence was the choice of food vendors. There was a surprising list of out-of-town vendors, and an alarming vacuum of vegetarian options. So even though we brought cash to buy food, I ended up diving into the emergency crackers in my purse.

Other than that, and a few first-time kinks, the event was a lot of fun. Not only was it NOT in a parking lot, but it wasn’t saturated with Budweiser and Busch displays run by skinny girls in tube tops. There were plenty of craft breweries representing their art. There was shade to stand in, grass and chairs to sit on, and even live music off to the side. Some of the small breweries even had their actual staff (and brew masters) pouring the beer and talking about it like it was something they knew about.

It was nice to see some absolute favorites there, and we bee-lined for Victory Brewing’s table first thing, and then two steps over to Southern Tier. We stopped at Cigar City, SweetWater, and Swamp Head because we are fans. And we lingered at Mile Marker (wish they had the Coconut Porter), Stone Brewing (Levitation Ale was tasty), and Magic Hat (Elder Betty was interesting). That’s not to say it was all fun and games.

Cheers to Orlando Brewing Partners for their offering of organic brew, but there weren’t a lot of developed flavors to be found. With so many things to try, I can promise that the grass was watered with some unwanted beer from a few people drinking for quality rather than quantity.

Many of the breweries at the Festival are available at bars and pubs around town, so it wasn’t all new to the beer-lovers in our group. But there were smaller breweries that are up and comers. Mile Marker is a brewery in St. Augustine we never heard about and fully intend to visit on our next road trip. Not only were their brews intriguing and the team behind the table friendly, come on… it’s like an hour’s drive away. How could you not? Each of their offerings at the Festival were tasty.

Another note about the event was that instead of being jam-packed with college youths trying to get drunk, there were tons of locals and beer-lovers out an about. The Man and I generally run into a lot of people we know, but this was wall-to-wall locals. The event staff allowed designated drivers to pay the garden entry fee and get a DD bracelet so they could hang out with (and watch over) their friends. Plus it was Kanapaha for the love of god. How could you not have a good day?

Highly recommend you keep your ears to the ground for next year’s event and buy your tickets immediately.

Hogtown Craft Beer Festival
April 14th, 2012 | $35 General admission ticket
HogtownBeerFest.com
(let’s hope the prices don’t go up for next time!)

[Girl21]

Snakebite

Snakebite, Loosey's Pub

Brass monkey! That funky monkey!

If you remember when that song came out, you’re my kind of people. (Beastie Boys, License to Ill, 1986.) I only bring that up because I was looking up the history of one of my favorite drinks, and this fun little fact was flung at me like an unwelcomed booger.

A Brass Monkey is a shandy, which is a drink that mixes beer with some kind of soda or juice, depending on where you are and where your bartender is from. A Brass Monkey is a mix of orange juice and beer. And the version the Beastie Boys were familiar with was where a hard-partying rock and roll youth would drink off the first 1/4 of a 40 of malt liquor or beer, and top off the can or bottle with OJ.

No, that’s not my favorite drink at all. I feel like I just threw up thinking about that. I like a Snakebite, which is a specific type of shandy. It’s a combination of half beer and half cider. Many bartenders will just mix the two willy nilly and hand it over like a dead rat in a glass. But the classy folks will pour the cider first, then float the beer on top. I generally see this done well with a nice dry cider like Strongbow paired with a dark beer like Guinness for the maximum effect and flavor.

At Loosey’s (pictured), you get Donnybrook instead of Guinness, which goes much nicer with the cider because it lacks that slightly burnt after flavor. But I may have to try the version a friend was drooling over which was raspberry cider with Choklat Stout by Southern Tier. Probably best for dessert.

But watch out. Lore states that Snakebites get you drunk faster than the individual drinks that make them. I haven’t seen any supporting evidence, but there’s a long argument at several sites about this. I can only guess the reason for the myth is that originally a Snakebite had a shot of vodka in it in some regions. Which of course would sneak up on you and bite you in the ass.

[Girl21]

Organic Cherry Ale, Samuel Smith

It’s all about expectations. This is why relationships fail. And why blind dates end in disaster. Reality mixes with your expectations, setting off an interesting chemical reaction.

Sam Smith Brewery has been making beer in the U.K. since the mid-1700s. Unless you are complete heathen who only drinks Bud Light or whatever is on special at your local gas station, you probably have seen (and maybe tried) something by Sam Smith’s brewery. You probably don’t know that (with one exception) all of Sam Smith’s brews are vegan.

Sam Smith brews tend to be reliably drinkable and traditionally made (yes, you can taste this). We picked up the Organic Cherry Ale at our last trip to the Wall of Beer at Ward’s. I’m a cider fan, but a fruit beer will also do. The Man is very patient with me on this. He likes IPAs and high ABV Belgian beers that are like getting hit in the mouth by a sack full of flavors. He doesn’t take my more timid approach to beers well.

Anyhow, I was tempted first onto the beer path through Lindeman’s lambic beer, often flavored with fruit. I challenge anyone who dislikes beer to have some of this and say it even tastes like beer. There’s nothing beer about it. Lambic beer is a seasonal beer that is very mild because it is spontaneously fermented, and the ingredients are selected to have very subtle flavors.

Not so for any of the Sam Smith brews. I went into this cherry ale thinking of the delicate Lindeman’s kriek (cherry) lambic, which it is not. Lindeman’s is a fair and cultured lady, where Smith’s is her country cousin that wears boots and mucks out the barn. Not that it is bad. It’s loud with sweet and sour cherry flavors, a bold ale body underneath, and a flurry of bold bubbles.

My fault was the expectations I had. Once I adjusted my brain and started drinking it again, the cherry ale went down a bit better. It had a great big fragrance of cherry pie, but the taste of cherry wasn’t quite as strong. The earthier notes of the grains came through better after I got past the shock of the sweet cherry. In fact, as I drank it, it lost the sweetness of the cherries and was left with that super tart flavor which was refreshing.

The Man had a hard time with it because he was thinking of ale when he started drinking it, and he quickly got burnt out on the fruit flavors and the sweetness. The hoppiness came out after a while, which filled out the flavors of grains and fruit. But for him, it has been permanently consigned to the “baby, you finish that so I can drink my good beer” list.

Overall it wasn’t bad. Samuel Smith consistently produces good beer. This is one of those things you can only drink one of. In fact, share it with a couple of people for an evening of beer tasting just for fun. Just be aware that if you invite this girl, she’ll still be wearing her boots from mucking out the barn. I’ll stick to the Lindeman’s lambic.

Samuel Smith
Organic Cherry Ale
1 Pint Bottle | 5.10% ABV
Price: $4.50-6.50

[Girl21]

Zywiec Porter: Polish Beer?

My dad loves to tell Polish jokes. He grew up in Chicago, and as a boy, had a job delivering a Polish-language newspaper in the Polish part of town. This was back in the day that if you went walking through the wrong neighborhood, you got the old stank eye from the old grandmas and the kids on the front steps. So of course being a German kid riding his bike through a Polish neighborhood, he had to duck a few insults, and probably a few rocks. I don’t fault his love of Polish jokes, but I do roll my eyes.

I say that because there’s only one reason I picked up a bottle of Polish beer while we were at the Great Wall of Beer at Ward’s the other day. It was Polish beer. My brain instantly bubbled up a dozen of my dad’s dumb jokes and I had to reach for the bottle. The Man’s mission is to make me like beer, so the minute I show interest in anything beer-related, he buys it. He caught me holding the bottle of Zywiec porter and it was instantly added to our cart.

At $3.99 for a 16.9 oz. bottle, it’s not inexpensive, but it’s also 9.5% ABV so you’re getting your money’s worth of WOO HOO! The Man opened this up to taste when his brother stopped by for a visit, and we split it three ways while I cooked dinner. I certainly felt the 9.5% ABV on an empty stomach, but ‘m also not a professional drinker.

Before you even take a sip, the smell of chocolate hits your nose. And your first mouthful gets you good with molasses, malt, caramel, and rich oaky earth flavors. It’s quite intense from beginning to end. A bit overly sweet and in your face. It leaves a full burnt caramel taste at the end that lingers a bit too long. It has a lovely bubbly mouth feel that seems oddly cheerful contrasted with the very bold and solid flavor profiles.

Not that this is a criticism or a surprise. It is a porter; a Baltic porter to be exact. Porter is named for the people that drank the stuff in the old days. The big fellows who did hard work all day and couldn’t afford a lot of good beer in the evening. They wanted something cheap and strong. The Baltic regions produce a higher ABV porter than their comrades in other regions. Many experts attribute these variations to the commercialization of production, and the supply of ingredients because of wars and regional growing issues.

Okay, that was boring, but I had a fun time reading all about top-cropping, Reinheitsgebot, and John Feltham’s Folly. Suffice it to say that porter tends to be flavorful and packed with alcohol. And Baltic porter is just a little bit more so.

And speaking about commercialization, Wyziec started producing beer in 1852 but is now owned partially (61%) by Heineken, so that’s probably a major reason you can even get it in the US. The label claims they have been using the same porter recipe since 1881. I’m voting for them to continue doing what they’re doing. It was tasty and I’m glad we tried it. It was absolutely on the sweet and powerful side of things. I doubt I could get through a full pint on my own, and The Man is of the opinion that a half-pour is the best way to get at this beer.

So cheers to Polish beer. As for my dad and his Polish jokes… In doing some research on our family history, I suspect that part of our family line comes from a region of Germany that was handed over to Poland after WWII because of that whole invasion faux pas. Technically I think we’re a little Polish now.

Zywiec Porter
9.5% ABV, Baltic Porter
16.9 ounce bottle | $3.99 at Ward’s

[Girl21]

Gainesville House of Beer

Gainesville House of Beer Front

You’ll have to excuse us for not leaping with excitement when Gainesville House of Beer opened its doors. It is so close to Stubbies & Steins that any superbly drunk but dedicated beer lover could stumble from Stubbies to GHOB and find it on the first try. That, and it is one in a chain of several. A chain?

But we are ever ready to do our duty to you, our readers, and the beer culture of Gainesville. So after dining at Las Margaritas with friends the other night, we buttoned our lips at the suggestion of heading downtown for a drink at House of Beer. Yes, we would go and see what it was like. We actually enjoyed these friends’ company and could suck it up and try out the new place without acting like pouting children. I said it often while heading across town. Open mind. Open mind. Open mind.

Gainesville House of Beer is on the corner of University and SW 1st, where the burger place was (Jeff’s Deli was there for a while among other things). Down the block is Stubbies, then Sweet Mel’s (and Naughty Mel’s, whatever that mess is). In fact, within easy sober walking distance, there are a significant number of popular drinking establishments like The Top, The Bull, Tall Paul’s, Loosey’s, Palomino, Mainstreet Billiard, Durty Nellie’s, Piano Bar, :08, The Atlantic, University Club, and Stubbies (yes, I mention it again only because it’s a few doors away). Hell, you could even go to The Venue and get a beer if you don’t mind metal detectors at the door. So why would you open a beer place in that exact spot?

Don’t get me wrong. They have 40 taps, plus a decent assortment of miscellaneous bottled beer. The bartender knew his way around the beer, and was more than happy to pour samples and suggest options. The only excuse is that these guys are from the Dunedin/Palm Harbor area. They don’t know the area very well. Gainesville’s House of Beer is the third in the chain, and I can honestly say third time is not the charm because there is no charm in this location.

It’s a storefront box with awkward pillars and an uncomfortable little patio area for smokers. The long bar down the back of the room guards the expansive row of taps. The industrial flooring is as exciting as the Sam’s Club “Pub Style” collection of tables and stools. And the pressed tin beer advertisements seem like they were hung up quickly to cover the walls because the TVs were delivered a few weeks late.

The most annoying thing about the night can’t be directly pointed at GHOB. At least I am hoping it was some overly-excited patron that stuffed the jukebox and treated us to a long series of bad ‘80s music. No, I agree there is good ‘80s music. But this was the stuff that you find only in the bottom of the box of Salvation Army’s Vat O’ Dusty Cassettes. As in, why would you offer this on your juke box unless you hated your staff and patrons?

This will be the end of my rant about the lack of personality of the establishment. If I wanted to go to this kind of bar, I would visit one of those gargantuan outlet centers in Georgia and find where all of the soul-drained employees went during their lunch breaks to top off their buzz. But I like my bars to have a little personality. I spend a good deal of time there after all. And the downtown is rampant with interesting places to park your arse and waste a few hours with friends.

On the plus side, GHOB does have a good selection on tap. This is not an argument. They have Victory, Bell’s, Southern Tier, Chimay, Boddington’s, Swamp Head, Rogue, Shipyard, Abita, Red Brick, Cigar City, Woodchuck, Sam Adams, Left Hand, Sweetwater, Dogfish Head, Ace, and more. And they even have fancy glasses to serve the different types of beer (and cider) in.

They do have big name beer like Bud Light, Miller Light, PBR, and Corona, so if you have those friends that can’t tolerate their beer with flavor, you’re free to bring them with you if you like. And GHOB has wine, cider, and lambics for those that are less than excited about beer. You can download the PDF of their bottle and wine selection if you like (you should know by now how much I hate this lazy way of displaying a menu online, so their terrible website was another nail in the coffin).

If you’re waiting to get into Stubbies, you could have a beer at GHOB and watch TV while someone holds your place in line. We went on a Friday night and it wasn’t busy at all. The girl on the door was writing a paper for school and watching the crowd across the street at The Bank or whatever it’s called this week.

House of Beer wasn’t bad. Don’t get me wrong. It’s just not a place we wanted to spend a lot of time. We all had a drink and tried to settle before giving up and continuing on to another drinking establishment. It might someday develop character. We might even go back. Maybe.

Gainesville House of Beer
19 W University Ave
Gainesville, FL 32601

352-376-1100

www.gainesvillehob.com

Open:
Monday-Friday 2PM-2AM
Saturday & Sunday 12PM-2AM

[Girl21]

Gainesville House of Beer, CC Puppy's Breath Porter

Peroni Nastro Azzurro

Peroni Nastro Azzurro

“Una birra per favore,” says the lovely lady in my car stereo. “One beer please,” parrots her male counterpart.

With the death of CDs, practically the only thing in my car is an old set of ‘Learn Italian in Your Car‘ discs I got for Christmas ages ago. When I can’t get Pandora to play on my phone for some reason, I fall back on these CDs rather than abuse my ears with broadcast radio. I love listening to these CDs actually because the woman’s voice is so sweet and perky with just a hint of attitude. Plus Italian is a beautiful language.

The reason I bring this up is that we bought some Peroni lately to make macaroni and cheese, and I’ve been cooking with it ever since. Yes, some of the beer does make it into the food–I don’t drink all of it while I’m slaving away in the kitchen.

Peroni Nastro Azzurro is an Italian beer, a pale lager to be exact. This is not a fancy beer by any stretch of the imagination. It’s best described as ‘typical’ Italian birra. It’s light, bubbly, and best served cold. It has sweet malty and yeasty flavors, with a hint of white wine, and ends with a satisfactory bitterness that is just right. It’s not going to satisfy the real beer drinkers, but it’s not Michelob Ultra.

It’s a nice beer for cooking with because you’re not wasting a good beer by burying it under other flavors, and there’s just enough flavor from the Peroni coming through that you can taste the beeriness. Beside the obvious use in the cheese gravy for the mac-and-cheese, I’ve also been using it in pasta dishes since I’ve run out of my usual white wine and have thus far failed to put it on my shopping list (blast and damnation!). The acid from the tomatoes and citrus is highlighted by the mellow beer notes and that final slight bitterness.

I’ve been holding onto a beer bread recipe that calls for a pale beer, and I think this might be the time to try it out. I’ve always loved beer bread because of its interesting texture and ideal combination of beer and bread flavors. (I know, those are actually the same flavor generally, but it’s like the fascination with twins–a variation on what should be the same thing actually.) Can’t wait to see how it turns out.

In the mean time, I am waiting to get the point on my ‘Learn Italian‘ CDs when the cheerful, sassy lady tells me how to say “Ho mangiato la pasta così tanto che sto per esplodere!” That should be a handy phrase to know for when we head over to the big boot.

Peroni Birra, SABMiller
Peroni Nastro Azzurro
$6-9 6-pack

[Girl21]

Maduro Oatmeal Brown Ale, Cigar City Brewing

Maduro Oatmeal Brown Ale

Back in college I ran a cigar shop. This was the height of the cigar madness of the late ’90s and I think the most expensive cigar I sold went for $35 a piece. Not per box, but per cigar. How do you sell expensive cigars like that? You’re a female and you lounge around the shop smoking a double corona maduro (yes, that’s the big black kind of cigars).

So when The Man gave me a pint of beer to try and told me it was Cigar City Maduro, I had to resist the urge to undo a few buttons, fondle the pint glass, and offer to show him my humidor. There’s a vast difference between a maduro cigar and a maduro beer. I’m not so sure I could sell a $35 beer, even in my best push-up bra. But this is yummy beer.

Tampa and Ybor City is quite famous for cigar making back in the day. The whole area is still steeped in the musky scent of aged tobacco and Cuban ex-pats. What else would you want after a long day of rolling cigars in a non-air-conditioned warehouse? A tasty beer. Which would be why there have been breweries in Tampa just as long as the cigar warehouses.

Cigar City Brewing started up in the heart of the tobacco capital of Florida with the intention of making the best beer in the country from the best ingredients, etc., etc. I think it’s a copy-and-paste job that most microbreweries insert into their ‘About Us’ page on their website. Don’t let that hold you back. CCB makes a collection of tasty beers.

At The Top, The Man likes to get a pint of CCB’s Maduro Oatmeal Brown Ale because it’s usually on tap, and it’s generally friendly to whatever we might have for dinner. As per its name, this oatmeal ale has a good quantity of oats in with the barley. ‘Maduro’ is translated to ‘mature’, which in cigars means the tobacco is aged long, mellowing the flavor and leaving it sweeter.

This dark, molasses-colored beer has lovely notes of cocoa, malt, hops, and roasted coffee. There are hints of smoke and nuttiness, and even moments of vanilla in the background. But even though there is a rich collection of flavors in a single pint glass, it’s never crowded or overbearing. It’s actually quite amicable and ready to make friends with many kinds of food.

It’s fairly easy to find Cigar City beers here in G’ville but they’re usually bottled. Jai Alai IPA and this Maduro are the two most popular. I really want to try the Espresso Brown Ale next. There are some places that have CCB beers on tap, such as The Top (and the Maduro goes great with the Tempeh Rueben with the tempeh substituted with seitan). The Maduro is totally different than my usual cider (shown above), one being fresh and crisp while the other is mellow and friendly.

Having a CCB Maduro isn’t quite as fun as leaning against my cigar counter, blowing smoke rings from a huge maduro cigar, making customers quiver uncertainly. But it’s just as tasty on a warm dusk night.

Cigar City Brewing
3924 W Spruce Street, Suite A
Tampa, Florida 33607
info@cigarcitybrewing.com
www.cigarcitybrewing.com

Tasting room:
813.348.6363, ext. 206
Hours:
Sunday to Thursday | 11:00am-9:00pm
Friday & Saturday | 11:00am-12:00am

[Girl21]

Donnybrook & The Beer Monogamy Myth

Victory, Donnybrook Stout

Before I bring down the wrath of thousands of Guinness lovers upon my head for what I’m about to say, I will preface this with the emphasis that there’s nothing like a Guinness beer. But…. No, wait! Just listen for a minute while you sip your beer.

If you’ve not had a lot of Guinness, and not developed a deep, abiding love for the beer, then this whole post might be lost on you. Guinness appears dark and brooding, as beer goes. It has a head on it that looks like you have to chop a hole in it with an ice fishing saw. Yet it is creamy. Almost milky. And underneath that is the bright, soulful, yeasty, hoppy stout beer. There are a good many people that are devout Guinness drinkers.

The Man is a diehard Guinness lover, through and through. The glassware in our home is a seemingly endless supply of Guinness pint glasses. (Not my ideal stylish home entertaining statement to make. Dorothy Draper would have to go lie down if she saw this.) He will give any sketchy, sh!thole bar a chance if they claim to offer Guinness on draft.

So you can imagine the evening we were at our home-away-from-home bar for a relaxing drink on the patio, and we were casually told of plans to switch the place over to carrying only American craft beers. It took a moment for The Man to realize this meant Guinness was included in that sweeping gesture, as it’s from Ireland. There was a brief twitch of his bottom lip and a wild look of panic in his eye as he imagined having to go elsewhere for his favorite draft beer.

But lo, the angels played their harps and flower petals fell from the sky. Hope was offered in the form of a new beer that was similar to Guinness yet made in the U S of A. Victory Brewing Co. is gaining support for its Donnybrook Stout as a beer similar to, or even better than (gasp!), Guinness. The Man clung to this mad hope like Bob Barker clung to his career as host of The Price is Right.

It took some doing, a few false starts, but eventually the Donnybrook arrived on site and was ready to pour. It wasn’t quite as tarry brown as Guinness but it had a lovely creamy head on it. The Man had a ceremonious sniff, then a sip. He made me sip it, and then nearby friends had to try it. There was shrugging of shoulders and shaking of heads. More tasting. More grunting among the men at the bar. Then with very little fanfare and a remarkable lack of earth shattering chaos, Donnybrook was declared a perfectly good swap for Guinness. I was expecting a hoard of irate Irishmen frothing at the mouth and brandishing shillelaghs to appear through a crack in the floorboards.

It was actually a few weeks later that the true impact of this arrival was revealed. After quite a few delicious Donnybrooks, a Guinness connoisseur can have a Guinness and realize what the Donnybrook is missing. Guinness has always had this lactic mouth feel and a tangy aftertaste as an entertaining contrast. So does the Donnybrook. But the Donny lacks Guiness’ burnt caramel undertones that actually muddle the flavors quite a bit. So with the Donny you can taste the hops, yeast, roasted barley, and the full clean cresting flavor curve better.

That’s not to knock Guinness. It’s still a tasty beer that is much lighter and flavorful than the dark color would suggest. In fact, there’s the rumor of the bloke that tried the Guinness diet–only Guinness beer, a little milk for calcium, and a vitamin C supplement for a week, and you’ll be fine. As far as we’re concerned, it remains a rumor since the guy’s blog has disappeared (aliens?!). But that won’t stop college guys across the country from trying their own Guinness diets, I’m sure.

If you like Guinness and want to send us all kinds of hate mail for suggesting Donnybrook is at least as good as your favorite, I invite you to have a Donny first. We don’t believe in this one-or-the-other TV show contest thinking. We’ll have a Donny and a Guinness at the same time if it is an option. There’s no such thing as beer-monogamy. I checked.

Have a Guinness to calm your nerves if you have to, and then try a Donnybrook Stout. If you still need to rail at us for having an opinion, sit on your shillelagh.

Victory Brewing Co.
Donnybrook Stout
Victorybeer.com
420 Acorn Lane
Downingtown, PA 19335
[Brewery & Restaurant!]

• On tap at Loosey’s
Downtown Gainesville

—————–

Diageo
Guinness Stout
[Dublin location offers museum and bar!]

• Found on tap at a variety of local establishments such as The Top, Durty Nelly’s, and Gator City.

[Girl21]