“I got to feeling like a machine. And that’s no way to feel”
- John Shaft.
- (And we can dig it.)
I haven’t blogged in MONTHS. I’m tired all the time from work and running a house, which is pretty shit, and I haven’t really been “on the clock” for my weekend beery adventures, although I’ve been a pretty earnest and possibly annoying Instagrammer of beer. This weekend though I’ve managed to stay awake long enough to drink and write about the new Guinness Golden Ale, a couple of bottles of which the brewery posted to me.
But before that, I just want to draw a line under something I covered a couple of months ago.
The Office public house in Morpeth has won its battle with the council, and will remain open! I really doubt my posts about it had any effect at all but I’m glad that I could help champion the cause and that I could trash the “farewell to The Office” article I’d idly started drafting. Everyone should go and drink there right now.
Now that you’re back from the pub, prepare for a blisteringly hot take on Guinness Golden Ale, and let’s begin it with a word from The Man on The Street.
My learned friend raises a good, albeit profanity-free, point. Why indeed should the dark beer people go golden?
Ever drink Guinness in the sunshine? Stout is a bit of a non-starter on a hot day. Guinness manages to stay afloat during the summer months easily due to being one of the world’s biggest brewers but I imagine the Black Stuff doesn’t shift hand over fist during the beer garden hours of the Great British weekends. Making a Guinness product that’s a bit less hard going when it’s a face-melting 20C is good business sense. And golden ales are shifting at a high rate of speed. They’re a growth product.
With that in mind, and the “Big Brewery Does Something To Make Money” bombshell dropped, it’s time to dust off the tasting glass.
At the moment of opening a pondy, off-floral scent comes from the neck, and on a healthy inhale fills out more to a sweet, citrusy nose. It pours a red-gold with the highly disciplined white head we see on Guinness’ stouts. It feels weird ploughing through this foamy cap and not tasting an Irish stout beneath it, and instead the quite thin and (initially at least) barely-there flavour of this golden ale. After a few mouthfuls of hunting for some complexity in the taste a surprising intricacy in the scent develops, with notes of malt, biscuit, grass and a sort of pleasant dampness coming to the surface. Putting the glass down, taking a breather and returning to it yields a chocolaty aroma that, in its smoky way, reminds us that this is indeed a Guinness product.
Going back to actually drinking it, there’s more malt and a cereal taste, not the powerful cereality of a good oatmel stout, but cereal nonetheless, comes onto the scene. By this point the heavy carbonation, which was more irritating than the (possibly equally as heavy) carbonation in the two Brewer’s Project porters I drank last year, has faded, and with it the aftertaste seems to linger longer. There’s biscuit and a wisp of mashed-together mixed fruit on the aftertaste, and the backbone of the taste itself remains a very simple smack of barley and biscuit. It’s a simple beer that isn’t trying to push boundaries or revive old recipes, and I don’t think it was ever intended to be so. While the last two Brewer’s Project beers were a crack at recreating history this seems to be more of a go at making a Guinness you can take to the beach without looking like you’re trying to prove a point.
When the glass is almost empty, though, the taste does seem to rally and ends up giving a good account of itself. The citrus notes crisp up and become less muted as the glass empties. It gets more biscuity throughout the drinking process. The final aftertaste is sticky and vaguely marmaladish and coats the mouth, parching, softly dessicating and creating a bit of a thirst.
Guinness Golden Ale is a quick drinking beer. I had to apply the brakes quite a few times as I supped at it. It’s clean and simple and feels like it would easily lubricate a variety of different meals, and that it would do this in great numbers. It goes down easy. The carbonation was a bit excessive but didn’t stick around too long. It’s not the greatest golden ale ever made and I’m sure nobody in the Saint James’ Gate area is losing sleep over this. It would be easy to slam this beer from wall to wall to get clicks and high fives but I’ll stand by the statement that it’s a decent beer. It’s nice. It’s not a world beater or a mould breaker and it’s not shaking up any kind of beer scene, but it’s not Dead Crow either. It’s a fine, simple beer to drink a shitload of on a hot day. It's not a flavour explosion. It's a holidale.
Guinness Golden Ale is pretty decent. Probably not a quote they'll seek out and put on billboards.
Anyway, it’s good to be back! Cheers, everyone.