We've all had it, probably in quantity on occasion. This space isn't only reserved for seasonal Northern Oregon triple IPAs, however. This old favorite deserves a review just as much as any other.
This particular occasion finds me enjoying Guinness in the can format, probably the best way to try it other than visiting a pub in Ireland. The Guinness sent to America in cans, as far as I can tell, is the same as the Guinness served at the local taps in Ireland. It is quite different than the Guinness served in bottles, which is about 5% ABV. The can and keg variety is around 4.1%, which is why it is so easy to have ten, er, a few of them. What makes the canned Guinness so close to the tap variety is the special nitrogen ball inside the cans. It releases bubbles and makes a cool sound when you crack open the can, and gives the beer its trademark head and bubbliness. There is a much more scientific explanation for this process, which can be found here.
This pours with a very thick and creamy head, which essentially remains throughout. The amazing thing about Guinness is its ability to maintain the creamy head throughout the entire beer. I think this has to do with the nitrogen that it is poured/bottled with, but this is very hard to reproduce in a homebrew as I've found out.
The aroma isn't too overpowering, but has an obviously malty tone. There might also be a hint of chocolate present. No hop smell to speak of.
One word describes this beer: SMOOTH. It just slides down, and gets you ready for the next gulp. The creamy head is a delight, and makes each sip a mouthfeel delight. The only thing missing here is the follow through. After you get over the nice smell and very smooth consistency, there isn't much else. There is that classic Guinness flavor, but nothing that blows you away. This is where competitors like Murphys and others put their money. Murphy's throws a little bit of nuttiness after the front, Guiness is satisfied to just go on its way and leave you with its simple yet well rounded, underwhelming lick of flavor. For a session beer, that is all you can ask. Sure, they could have put a big blast of chocolate or malt at the finish, but then Guinness wouldn't be Guinness. The point of this beer, and Guinness knows it, is to make it good enough that people with taste buds enjoy it, but light enough that they will drink it all night.
Guinness has two really great things going for it: drinkability (no, Bud Light does not possess drinkability despite its claims), and availability. You can get Guinness pretty much anywhere, whether it is on tap or in cans. It will usually be the same, and will always give you a good night if you let it. It is a fantastic "go-to" beer, and one that won't make you feel too bad in the morning. I have recently realized the value and importance of Guinness in my drinking life, and my LIFE has been better because of it. Visiting the Guinness brewery is a fantastic experience, and one that every passionate beer drinker should make a point to do sometime in their life. Guinness is truly a part of Irish day to day life, and if you let it, it can be a part of yours too!
EDIT: I forgot to add a ranking. Guinness is a "drinking" beer, and I will tend to make my ratings on a scale of "don't bother"(1) to "find this at all cost"(10). On that scale, I give this a 5/10. That translates to, "seek it out at restaurants and bars with terrible beer selection".