Nick Carr on September 29, 2014 11 Comments Quick Characteristics Brewery: City Brewing Co. (in collaboration with Guinness) Location: Latrobe, PA Style: American Lager ABV: 5.0% IBU: ? Appearance: Light Gold with White Rocky Head Aroma: Mixture of Floral, Light Citrus & Pale Malt Flavor: Fresh Grain, Subtle Hops, Butter-Smooth Character with Hints of Green Apple Availability: Year Round Pairs With: Salads, Grilled Chicken, Salmon, Butterkase Cheese, Apple Cobbler I know what you’re thinking: Guinness going Blonde, what the heck’s going on? Next we’ll see snakes sprouting legs, pigs flying and Budweiser releasing a stout (Bud Black, maybe). It is interesting to note that this is not their first foray into lighter beer. Light beers in the brewery’s past include a couple pilsners and Guinness Brite lager. On a side note it’s interesting how many beers Guinness has made that never made it to America. In 1988 they brewed and launched Guinness Gold, a first attempt to corner a bit more of the American market. This beer was a little before my time (to drink at least), but it only stayed on shelves for about five years before Guinness decided it undermined the brand’s equity as “a rich, black beer.” So what has changed in the intervening years… craft beer sales. In 2013 craft beer sales rocketed up a whopping 17.2 percent (Go craft beer!!) and overall beer sales actually dropped just a hair (1.9%). Combine these numbers with the fact that Guinness sales in America have dropped around 8% in the last two years and a picture, to fill in that “why,” starts to form. The king of murk, behemoth of Irish pride, and artesian of the abyss may be nervous about their sales. This Guinness addition is brewed in Pennsylvania’s Latrobe Brewing Company. It uses the true Guinness yeast, the first time their 125 year old yeast culture has left the Irish homeland. It is also the pilot brew of a new “discovery series.” Guinness’s own answer to experimental brewing. The Pour and Aroma It pours a light gold color, something like the hue of weak ice tea. A white rocky head rises a half inch, but takes only a couple minutes to drop away. It is very clear with no residue to mare its depths. The aroma is a mixture of floral, light citrus, and pale malt. A grainy character pervades with dainty butter notes, and small amounts of toast underneath. The Mosaic and Willamette hops, combine with the yeast to create an almost hidden dance of citrus fruit and sometimes flowery undertones. Mouthfeel and Taste The beer’s shining point is mouthfeel. Leave it to a 125 year old yeast strain to perk the senses. It is creamy, chewy, with a satiating fullness and medium carbonation. Flavor stays true to the aroma. Pale malts show as a “fresh grain” quality, with a bit of diacetyl contributing a buttery-smooth character. Hops are subtle but present, bittering only slightly through mid-palate, but standing a little higher on the swallow. The grainy butter character lingers through the aftertaste where it is joined by hints of green apple. Finishing The Impression If I am completely honest I’d have to say I went into this review sure I wouldn’t like this beer. Don’t get me wrong I love Guinness. Of all the megalithic mass-market brewing companies this is the one I have a soft spot for. I’ve drank Guinness stout in a Dublin pub. I make myself a Blacksmith almost every Saint Patties day (combination of a Guinness stout and Smithwick Ale). For me it’s hard to see them shifting, especially into something as un-Guinness as an American light lager. That being said this is a beer I’d drink and enjoy, especially on a hot summer day after digging post holes or roofing a house. It’s a flavorful well-made rendition of the style and puts some of the other examples out there to shame. The creamy smooth mouthfeel is something worth lingering over, and the taste has pleasing qualities. For me, it takes a certain mood (or a lot of sweat) to truly appreciate the potential of such a beer as this. If you love your lagers, put this one on your list of those worth a try. If, you’re like me and have a hard time seeing past the monstrosity that is “Big Beer,” and the connotations that usually come with the “American Lager” style, suspend your judgment… you know, just for a sip. Cheers!