Irish Urban Myth solved by smuggling Guinness back


, 2019

For years I have heard people insist or wonder if it’s true what they say about Guinness

Does Guinness taste better in Ireland?

To answer this question fairly I need to compare Guinness from the UK (which was brewed in Dublin) with Guinness from Ireland (which was also brewed in Dublin).

So I bought a few cans of Guinness in London, packed them up, and jumped on a Ryanair with Libby over to Dublin. We were going to Ireland for a close friend’s wedding, but primary mission to find the truth!

Shhh, don’t tell customs 😉

How does Guinness in the UK compare to those bought in Ireland?

After purchasing a few cans in Ireland, it was time to go head to head! First thing I noticed, was the Irish can is bigger and shinier.

Do the Irish keep the best Guinness for themselves?

Well, the can bought in London was smaller, only 440ml compared to the Irish 500ml. Is this licensing laws? Or marketing to give the illusion of value? Doesn’t matter to me, we’re here for the contents not the branding!

But interestingly, it is different inside the can! The Alcohol by volume in the Irish can is 4.2% where as the one exported to London was only 4.1%. Combined with the smaller can size, the differences are starting to add up.

Total alcohol in each can in UK units are:

  • 1.8 units for the UK can
  • 2.1 units for the Irish can

That’s a 14% difference in total alcohol! Subtly disguised. Is it a legal thing, or marketing? Or is it because the Irish keep the best Guinness for themselves? Only the taste test will tell!

Guinness Urban Myth results

After several cans, and blind taste testing I can honestly say I couldn’t taste a difference between the two. That 0.1% of water they add to the stuff exported to the UK was undetectable to my palette. Which makes sense, if it’s brewed in the same place, presumably in the same apparatus the only difference is marketing. Diageo (Guinness Owners) spent over $2Billion last year on marketing. I don’t know how much of that went on watering down Guinness and reducing can size, but it’s working for their profits. Final results: There isn’t really a difference in flavour, and after a few you remember why you only drink it in Ireland – It’s not that great. Why not try some really good Irish Stout?

What is the best Irish Stout?

There are tonnes of other brewers and microbreweries in Ireland making traditional Irish Stout, and according to untapped (and me!) there are better options.

I would recommend O’Hara’s Irish Stout, or Burren Black (rated #1 Irish stout on day of publishing).

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