Beer styles london

Memorable Beers #6: Guinness FES

When we host a party, we’re always delighted to open the door and have a plastic bag thrust at us: “We know you like beer so we brought a few interesting things we picked up.”

We have a very vivid memory of the end of a party some time in around 2005. Everyone had gone and music was playing into an empty front room strewn with empty beer cans and paper plates. We slumped onto the sofa, slightly exhausted and a little tipsy, and decided to split one more beer before tidying up. We reached for a bag of beers a friend had brought, harvested from the corner shops of Walthamstow.

The bottle that came to hand was Dublin-brewed Guinness Foreign Extra Stout. Being snotty about Guinness, we didn’t expect much except a nastier, boozier version of the stout we occasionally drank in an emergency in the pub.

The aroma, like smelling salts, snapped us out of our post-party drowsing: jaded as were our palates, it poked its way through. It tasted, we both agreed, like a delicious pudding. (We were enjoying, not taking notes, so that’s where the insight ended.)

Why do we remember this particular moment so vividly? Perhaps because of the shock of having our prejudices overturned.

4 replies on “Memorable Beers #6: Guinness FES”

you probably already know now that the Nigerian Guinness is good too, another handy corner-shop buy (in London at least, not sure about Cornwall!)

I kinda hate to admit it, but I have had many “stouts” and assorted black ales I’ve enjoyed more than standard Guinness. A beer shouldn’t depend on nitrogen to make it better.

The draught bottles we have are disappointing. We have the Extra Stout which is much better as bottled Guinness goes. But it’s brewed in Canada.

Somewhat recently though, the better shops have started carrying the Foreign Extra Stout, which left the other two varieties in the dust. I was excited to see a new Guinness in town that’s brewed in Ireland. It was even better finding out it was really good.

When comparing Guinness “varieties” It kind of makes you wonder if beer drinkers pallets have evolved with the explosion of craft beers, or if they’ve been dumbing down the original for mass market appeal.

One point of view is that we should keep quiet about Foreign Extra: the only reason Guinness haven’t ruined it, some say, is because they haven’t noticed that they’re still making it.

Yep. I spoke to a senior Diageo production bod at a product launch last year and asked why they don’t do more promotion and distribution of FES. He was confused and said they do loads of promotion of FES, and it’s a massive seller for them. Then he realised I meant in Europe and his face went blank, like it hadn’t occured to him it was part of the local portfolio.

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