A Beer Sommelier's Irish Picks

Greg Engert, a restaurant beer director, shares his favorite Irish and Irish-style brews.

IRISH FOREIGN/EXPORT STOUT:

TRADITIONAL: GUINESS FOREIGN EXTRA STOUT
Finally, this stronger take on the classic Guinness arrived in the US in the fall of 2010. Initially brewed in Dublin in 1801, the considerable strength (7.5% abv) and richer flavor -- due to more malt and grain sugar going unfermented -- permitted this brew to travel more deliciously to foreign lands. It was actually originally known as West India Porter. The enhanced antibacterial properties of the ale -- resulting from the higher alcohol content -- kept the beer better, and the fuller flavor masked imperfections that would naturally develop in beer travelling long distances prior to refrigeration and/or pasteurization. Guinness Foreign Extra Stout is silky-smooth and bitter-sweet, with increased intensity of red fruit in the nose, and a gentle boozy closure. It's perfectly warming for the more lion-ish days of March.

OFF THE BEATEN PATH: SCHLAFLY IRISH-STYLE EXTRA STOUT
Guinness Foreign Extra Stout actually made its US debut in 1817, but its importation ceased with the onset of Prohibition in 1919. Though it has made a triumphant return, other American craft brewers have also begun brewing their own renditions to satisfy the thirsts of craft drinkers for this fantastic style. Among the best of the bunch is the Schlafly Irish-Style Extra Stout, brewed by the Saint Louis Brewery. This was the first microbrewery to be established in Saint Louis, in 1991, and they have consistently crafted ingredient-driven riffs on world classic beer styles. The Irish-Style Export Stout is no exception, and is a sort or imperial version of the Dry Stout they have been making for a number of years. Though big in flavor, it is creamy and balanced on the palate, with malty, caramelized sweetness pitched perfectly against the coffee and cocoa notes. True to its American craft beer roots, a noticeable hop character accompanies the roasted finish and draws up an aftertaste that is redolent of pine.

MORE NOTABLE FOREIGN STOUTS:
COOPER'S BEST EXTRA STOUT (AUSTRALIA)
LION STOUT (SRI LANKA)
DRAGON STOUT (JAMAICA)

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