Following the massive popularity of our recent 100 Ways to Cook with Guinness post, the brass in Dublin decided Endless Simmer should be among the first “early influencers” invited to try their new product, Crystal Guinness, set to be released in the U.K. and Ireland on June 1 and in the U.S. later this summer.
The brew is Guinness’ first attempt at a spinoff product in more than three decades, and was conceptualized in response to declining Guinness sales throughout Ireland. While Guinness remains the most popular beverage sold in the motherland, it has recently lost considerable market share to Bulmers Irish Cider, which has enjoyed phenomenal success over the past five years, particularly during the summertime. Irish countryside pubs are still reliably stocked by old lads who wouldn’t dare order anything but the classic black stuff, but in more cosmopolitan Dublin, younger drinkers have gone crazy for Bulmers’ sharp, fruity taste and light, drinkable body.
Enter Crystal Guinness:
A malted beverage that is made from the same Irish barley as the company’s flagship stout, Crystal Guinness goes through the same roasting process that gives Guinness stout its signature dark color. Only here, a “secret formula” is added at the roasting phase to produce the opposite effect — a completely clear, translucent beer that maintains Guinness’ flavor but is significantly lighter in texture, has only 95 calories per pint, and obviously looks nothing like a stout.
The verdict: while it’s rather jarring to drink, the thick, foamy head does in fact mimic the real thing perfectly. The first sip really threw me for a loop, but then I closed my eyes and tried again, and it definitely could have been a real Guinness stout. Past that foamy head, the beer itself actually tastes quite a lot like Guinness, just without the creamy consistency. It’s kind of like drinking a Bud Light infused with the flavor of a stout.
I’m a lifelong fan of Guinness, but I’ve always said it’s not something you can drink all night — it’s really a one- or two-pint beer. However, the combination of light body and deep flavor in Crystal Guinness makes it one beer I can see myself finishing a six pack of (or a case — hint, hint Guinness — send us some more!)