Guinness Nitro IPA Crosses the Pond

It's a cascading IPA. It even has Cascade hops. Coincidence? I think not.
It's a cascading IPA. It even has Cascade hops. Coincidence? I think not.
Doug Fairall

As craft beer continues to soar, the "big guys" are positioning themselves into different segments of the beer market. Like this beer: a nitrogen-widget-filled IPA being made by the notorious perfect-pour police at Guinness.

When news came out in late September that this centuries-old brewery was delving into the American IPA style, I was taken aback. Surely, the makers of one of the most iconic brands of stout wouldn't need to branch out like this, but then I remembered the recent iterations of Guinness Blonde.

Saturated with curiosity, I wanted to learn more about this move from stout to IPA and began my research. The official product site for this beer is almost completely worthless, so I went digging elsewhere for information.

Combing through the internet, I stumbled upon headlines such as "Why Is Guinness Making an IPA?," "Guinness made a Nitro IPA and it's terrible," and the headline that made it sound like it might be poisonous: "Should You Drink the new Guinness Nitro IPA? We Found Out." I won't spoil that one for you.

All of this made me skeptical. Another brewery just out to hop on trends, perhaps.

The Guinness Nitro IPA is part of the Brewer’s Project, an experimental side project with the aim to let the brewers have some fun. As the can states, this recipe is the creation of Luis Ortega, a brewer at St. James’ Gate in Dublin.

Opening the can delivers a big hiss, and frothy beer starts to come out pretty quickly. There is a gurgling of the nitro widget doing its thing (physics!) that produces a sense of urgency to pour the thing into a glass. When you do, the traditional cascading effect that is a trademark of nitro beers takes hold for a good two and a half minutes.

When it finally finishes, it leaves a solid two-finger crown of foam. The color of the beer is a brownish orange. Red tints come out when put up to a bright white background.

Aromas are mild with wet flowers and a gentle earthiness. It's very subdued. The flavor is creamy as expected. Slight floral notes up-front, which backs down to a simple thickened mouthfeel of bread-forward blond beer flavors. At the end, there's minor earth that takes some seeking to find, with only a hint of bitterness coming through at the finish as well.

I was expecting a bigger hop presence, especially with the touting of five different hop varieties (Admiral, Celeia, Topaz, Challenger, and Cascade), but it's just not there. This is way too subtle for American hopheads.

In the end, it reminds me more of a variation on a Boddingtons Pub Ale, acting more like a creamy English pale ale than anything else. Even if it were labeled as an English IPA, it would be closer to the point. But even through this style conundrum (I've had my fair share of good beers that flirt with style guidelines), it's an enjoyable, creamy, pale beer from the guys who've been making a creamy dark beer for ages. 

I was provided sample cans.

Doug Fairall is a craft beer blogger who focuses on Florida beers and has been a homebrewer since 2010. For beer things in your Twitter feed, follow him @DougFairall and find the latest beer pics on Clean Plate's Instagram.

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