THE PLACE: Cellbridge, County Kildare, Ireland.
The time: early 1700s.
In 1722, one Arthur Price, vicar of Cellbridge, bought the local brewery, Kildrought Brewery, and placed his friend Richard in charge of the business. Price went on to bigger things, namely becoming archbishop of Cashel, and died in the year 1752. In his last will and testament, he bequeathed to his friend Richard’s son, his godson Arthur, who was 27 years old at the time, 100 British pounds for the purpose of expanding the brewery.
A couple of years later, Arthur leased a brewery in a village southwest of Dublin where the Liffey and Rye rivers meet, in the town of Leixlip, and proceeded to make ale for a number of years. Once things were off the ground, Arthur had his younger brother take over production of the village brewery and headed for the big city, namely Dublin.
In December 1759, Arthur got his hands on a 900-year lease (do they make those anymore?) for a brewery at St. James Gate in Dublin. He married in 1761, and proceeded to have 21 children. Simultaneously, he was brewing ale at St. James Gate, and began exporting it to England in 1769. At the time of his death in the year 1803, Arthur’s brewery in Dublin was producing 30,000 hectoliters (about 792,500 gallons) of beer a year.
Arthur’s last name by the way, was Guinness, and the family name continues to grace the bottles of Guinness Stout that now travel the world.
Stout, if you’ve never had it (Really? You’ve never tried it on a cold New Hampshire night?) is a warm fermented ale, very dark in color, with flavors that run from roast to dark chocolate and coffee. The style’s origin was in a beer called a stout porter, popular in London in the 1800s.
Guinness, while justly famous for the stouts, has not limited itself to this. There have been a number of experiments that, frankly, didn’t pass muster and were soon withdrawn including Guinness Lite, Guinness Bitter and Guinness Red. In 2010 they released a Black Lager. We’ll see how that one does.
Another of these experiments has been a blonde ale, also referred to in Ireland as a “golden ale,” a style of beer that is typically dry with noticeable malt flavors.
Which brings us to our two beers for this week, first a Guinness Blonde, labeled as an American lager. Dark golden/light amber under a white frothy head, frothy at the center and creamy toward the edges. The nose leans toward hops, while sweet malt is on the palate. It’s a medium to medium–plus weight beer with very good bitterness from the hops, balanced against a palate of bread and malt. The finish carries the malt right along to the end. Just right for this season–changing time of year.
The second is Guinness Extra Stout, more in keeping with what we think of when we think of Guinness. It stands in sharp contrast to the blonde, and is a black beer under a deep and huge tan and creamy head. The nose is all malt, which becomes progressively richer as you work your way down through the head to the beer. Full-bodied, it is rich with roasted notes, coffee, and hint of toast. Long and pleasing finish that carries the weight and the intensity right to the end.
For the beer lover, Guinness has you all set for the season: Blonde for now, stout for later. And that 900-year lease? Guinness is good until the end of 2659. Prost!
Jim Beauregard is a local beer and wine writer who can be reached at email@example.com