Like most beer drinkers I look forward to March and St. Patrick’s day as an excuse to get sloppy. I know a lot of real beer guzzlers think of St. Patrick’s day as an amateur drinker’s occasion- and I guess it is. Others consider it a day for reinforcing negative Irish stereotypes- and I guess it is. But it’s also an excuse to try some beers with an Irish heritage that you may not always drink on a regular basis. I like Guinness and Harp, but there are many more out there (see our St. Patrick’s Day feature for a running list of imports) so I went to the local beer distributor and picked up a four pack of Beamish Stout. And let me tell you- I appreciate Guinness more than ever.
Like Guinness, Beamish Stout comes in large cans with “widgets”. The widget, pioneered by Guinness, is a little spherical contraption in the can that contains nitrogen and beer. When opened, the capsule releases pressure and agitation in the beer occurs, creating the head. This occurs to simulate the taste and texture of a stout freshly poured from a tap (see our Guinness Draught review for a more detailed explanation). Also like Guinness, a can of Beamish should immediately be poured into a pint glass once it is opened to get the full effect. I don’t know if you can drink it directly from the can but I would not recommend trying it. Since I’ve never had a Beamish from the tap I can’t say how well the can version measures up to the tap, but I can say that it does not measure up very well to Guinness.
Oh sure, it’s dense, malty and dark with hints of chocolate flavor like any stout. But it does not finish well and seems a little watery when compared to Guinness… I might even venture to call it the light beer of stouts- but conversely, it has a slightly stronger “burnt coffee” flavor than other stouts. Guinness is the only beer that I can nurse. It’s so full bodied and packed with malty tastiness that it is easy to savor and enjoy slowly. Sadly, I cannot say the same for Beamish.
Beamish is brewed by Beamish & Crawford Brewery, Cork, Ireland.