“A fine beer may be judged with only one sip, but it’s better to be thoroughly sure.”
Disclaimer: Bottles of Guinness Antwerpen Stout and Guinness Rye Pale Ale were provided to us, for the purpose of reviewing them. This post is not otherwise paid for or sponsored by Diageo or any of its affiliate companies.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s talk about beer. If you’ve read my post about the Guinness Brewers Project, or my review of Guinness Nitro IPA, you know that I love it when Guinness releases a new craft beer. This year, they’ve debuted Antwerpen Stout and Rye Pale Ale. Both were released in the U.S. in late September 2016, and according to the press release, will be available through the end of the year.
Guinness Rye Pale Ale
The fact sheet I was given describes this as “a rustic ale with citrus notes and a slight earthy, spicy character to the finish.” Unlike most of the stouts and porters that Guinness brews, this recipe is not very old. The story goes that the folks at the Open Gate Brewery (the experimental brewery at St. James Gate) brewed it last December, as a gift for friends, family, etc. It turned out so well that they put it on tap, and now they’re sharing it across the pond.
RPA Tasting Notes
This ale has a bright, medium amber color, more akin to a dark-ish honey than maple syrup. The nose is very juicy citrus, and there’s a subdued hint of rye sour in the flavor. The mouthfeel is medium to heavy, with kind of a cleansing finish.
If you read this blog much, you know that we like our hops around here. This pale ale uses Cascade and Mosaic hops, making for a very juicy product. Despite the perfectly clean fermentation, I find that the rye lends an almost sour (think lambic) quality to the nose. The rye also gives it a dry, almost peppery finish.
Guinness Rye Pale Ale has quite a lot of presence to it, and makes sense as a holiday beer. As Ben put it,
“There’s some fruity caramel in here. Holistically it’s like a caramelised fruit bread. The rye could could almost be taken for gingery notes…it has a great, almost biere de Noel profile to the whole thing. Though if you’re expecting that rich level of malt, it’s not gonna happen.”
Guinness Antwerpen Stout
From the name, I’d guessed that maybe Guinness was branching out into Belgian-style beers, and had created a stout with Belgian yeast. Not so. Guinness Antwerpen Stout has been around since 1944, when it was brewed for export to, you guessed it, Antwerp. There, it’s called Guinness Special Export. Though they’ve been brewing it for around 70 years, this is the first time Guinness Antwerpen Stout is available in the States.
This is most definitely not a Belgian-style stout; it’s brewed with the same (very clean) yeast as Guinness Draught. There’s no point trying to hold back on this one. I cut my beer teeth on Guinness Stout, and I’m always excited when I get to try a new (usually old) stout or porter from them. Even so, I was a little surprised at just how good this latest U.S. release is.
Stout Tasting Notes
The nose is coffee, chocolate, raisins, and as Ben said, it “smells like a bourbon barrel.” The Antwerpen Stout has a creamy, long-lasting, dark tan head. It’s full-bodied, and like all Guinness stouts, cleanly fermented. The finish is roasty, but not very bitter; there’s actually a hint of sweetness. Ben describes it as having a “rich, kinda raisin-bready, molasses-lick boozy flavor. All good English (and Irish) Imperial Stouts have it.”
Once, we made our own candi syrup, which I detailed in a post on winter saizon. Anterwerpen Stout reminds me of that homemade candi syrup, which included sauteed raisins. Like Ben said, it’s a “burnt sugar and raisins” character. This stout is as good as (or better than) I’d hoped it would be.
Hurry. Offer Ends Soon
Both the Rye Pale Ale and Antwerpen Guinness beers are brewed with the same yeast as Guinness Draft, which makes them an interesting study in the wide range of beers you can achieve with one yeast. Both are cleanly fermented, and made with “premium roasted barley.” Naturally, the Rye Pale Ale grain bill also includes rye malt (10%).
Between the two, I love the Antwerpen Stout more. This is not surprising, since I am very fond of stout. The calorie conscious among you will be interested to know that Antwerpen Stout, with its 8.0% ABV, is only 134 calories (per 11.2 oz. bottle). The 5.0% ABV Rye Pale Ale is ever-so-slightly more caloric, at 140 calories (per 11.2 oz. bottle). Hurrah, smaller bottles!
Both are excellent fall/winter beers, and my only complaint is that they’re only available for a limited time. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to make a beer run.
“Guinness does not make a bad beer.”