Guinness Releases Two New Limited Edition Beers

photo by Kevin Gibson
photo by Kevin Gibson

Known by most as the go-to stout brewed in Dublin – and purveyor of those goofy “Brilliant!” TV spots a few years back – Guinness has been releasing beers with some unfamiliar wrinkles in recent years. Two that come to mind are the (poorly-received) Guinness Nitro IPA and the Blonde American Lager that made the rounds late last year in the U.S.

Now the world-famous brewery founded in 1759 has two more limited-release beers on the market: Guinness Antwerpen Stout and Guinness Rye Pale Ale.

At least for its back story, the stout had me curious. According to Guinness press materials, the beer was brewed for the first time in 1944 in Antwerp, Belgium, and has become a staple in the city. Of course, it’s brewed at the famous Open Gate Brewery in Dublin.

“It’s been more than 70 years since we first exported the Antwerpen Stout from Dublin to Antwerp, but its cult following is probably stronger than it’s ever been,” noted Padraig Fox, the General Manager for the Open Gate Brewery Experience. “I guess now the secret is out. Even if it is only for a few months, we’re happy to see this Guinness favorite having its moment in the U.S.”

Of course, this is the beer most of us know as Guinness Special Export, which generally isn’t exported to the U.S.; only the name has changed for American consumption. But hey, the more popular beer becomes, the more beer marketing we’re going to get. I’m cool with that.

The thick, black beer looks for all the world like motor oil, and it comes with a creamy, tan head. In addition, while the aroma and flavors of traditional Guinness – at least what we get here in America – are fairly subdued, the Antwerpen Stout asserts itself with hints of chocolate, roast and even smoke. I enjoyed sitting with it for a few seconds and simply taking in the aromas before taking a drink.

Once you’ve had a few sips, dark chocolate and coffee flavors come to the fore, along with a hint of licorice. It’s an interesting, enjoyable beer with plenty going on, and even at 8.0 percent ABV (nearly twice that of the flagship stout), the flavor of the alcohol in it isn’t prevalent, although it’s present in the finish.

It’s well worth trying while it’s readily available, especially with some colder weather approaching.

Guinness Antwerpen, photo by Kevin Gibson
Guinness Antwerpen, photo by Kevin Gibson

The Rye Pale Ale is exactly what I expected it to be: a pretty basic, copper-colored ale with a hint of rye. My first instinct was that the brewers wouldn’t accentuate the rye nose or flavors too aggressively, and I was right, leaving you with what essentially is a solid, drinkable pale ale with just a hint of spicy rye in the finish. It’s moderate in alcohol content (5.0 percent ABV) and lacks notable bitterness if hops aren’t your thing.

According to the media blast, the rye came about last year as a holiday experiment, and it carried over into bigger production after being a hit at the brewery. It’s a pleasant enough beer, if understated. Not something I’d recommend pursuing, but if you find it on tap somewhere, it’s certainly worth a shot if you’re in a pale ale kind of mood.

Both beers will be available through December; the Antwerpen Stout will be sold in in four-packs of 11.2 oz. bottles, while the Rye Pale Ale will be available in six-packs of 11.2 oz. bottles