5/3/18: Guinness' Antwerpen Stout

4:36 PM

I need to clear the air before I launch into this post. First, I need to say that this bottle of beer ran me 50¢. It was on closeout at a local grocery store (now that I've moved, expect more of their closeout beers to be featured here--they have some good stuff for dirt cheap) for $2/four-pack. I stocked up. I passed my stock around. This was in February. Today I'm drinking what I believe to be my final bottle. I say "what I believe to be" because I may still have some of the stout lurking about my garage. Who knows?

Secondly, this was originally intended to be my St. Patrick's Day post. A cool Guinness variant for Saint Paddy's? Why not? Saint Patrick's Day was March 17th. It is now early May. That's how far behind I am on things.

But, since I trudge ever onward heedless of time's passing, here we are. Today I'm drinking Antwerpen, a cool stout variant from Guinness of which you may not have heard. Happy Saint Paddy's Day, I guess.

I'm fairly confident that you know Guinness. If you're not familiar with the brewery's history, you've probably at least had one of their signature stouts. To save time, I'll highlight a few cool facts about the Dublin beer crafters here (click that link earlier in this paragraph for the full spiel, straight from the horse's mouth): Arthur Guinness (the founder of Guinness) began brewing beers bearing his name in 1758 and started exporting them to England a decade later. In 1821 Arthur recorded the recipe for Guinness Superior Porter, which was the foundation of his family's acclaimed Irish Stout. Guinness Draught, the world's first nitro beer, was introduced in 1959, two centuries after Arthur began his beer odyssey. Guinness launched the Brewer's Project in 2014, which allows its brewers to explore their creative sides.

Now that you have some cool factoids to impress the bartender the next time you order an expertly-poured Guinness, let's move onto today's good stuff: Antwerpen.  The section on Guinness' website for Antwerpen has just about all the info you could want regarding the stout. Apart from it's full history (which dates back to WWII), the page talks about the beer's aroma (butterscotch, toffee, roasted barley, and blackcurrant), it's flavor (coffee, chocolate, molasses, licorice, and dark fruits), and mouthfeel (creamy, effervescent, warming). Oh, and it also lists the stout's 8.0% ABV.

I definitely pick up on the toffee and butterscotch from the nose. There's also a darkly roasted barley note hanging on in there. The stuff in my bottle also has a yeasty quality to its bouquet, akin to what you'd find in a Belgian tripel. Which is ironic, seeing as how Antwerpen was exported to Belgium to fill a void in the country's beer industry during the WWII. Overall, it's a mighty sweet aroma for a stout. I'm willing to bet that Purrl found that sweetness pretty offputting, seeing as how she only gave my bottle one paltry whiff when I offered it to her.

That sweetness from the aroma carries in the taste. The stout is incredibly malty. It's the first thing I notice when I swig, and it's immediately followed by a miniscule burst of yeastiness before the more subtle flavors settle in. There's molasses, chocolate, coffee, and even the dark fruits. But the inescapable sweetness returns in the finish.

The brew's stellar on the mouthfeel front. Big, bold, creamy. It's legitimately everything I want a stout to be. Hell, it's everything I expect a stout to be. I am not shocked that Guinness has this down pat.

I don't really travel out of the country much because of time and money, but I went to Scotland once during my senior year as part of a school trip. It was March. It was cold. It was really rad. At one point, our bus pulled off to the side of a road. The tour guide instructed us to get out and see why.

Beside the road there was a fenced-in pasture. Just inside the fence there was a cow. It was just any cow, however. It was a highland cow. Big, with a thick coat of reddish-brown fur. The tour group, myself willingly included here, spent a good fifteen minutes marveling at the thing before piling back into the bus to head to wherever we were heading. I don't remember where. But I do remember that cow. It looked like a red version of the shaggy dog from that Two Stupid Dogs cartoon. Don't ask me why an Irish stout exported to Belgium reminds me of a Scottish cow. It just does.

Fond memories of foreign cattle aside, I have to say that I'm not overly impressed with Guinness' Antwerpen (please note that I'm incredibly biased because I'm the the biggest Guinness fan, but also note that I'm reviewing this bottle on its own merit). It's just too sweet for me to recommend it at what would presumably be its full $10 price. But, if you're lucky enough to score four bottles of it for two bucks, go for it. At that price, it's 8.5/10. But, if you're paying full price, then know I'd only give it a 7.5/10. Your money would be better spent elsewhere. Happy Saint Patrick's Day, everyone.

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