Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Jamaica–A Study in Beer, Part 2

Last night, I told you about Talawah Lager, Red Stripe, Red Stripe Light, Red Stripe Light Apple, and Red Stripe Light Ginger.  I started with those because, to be perfectly honest, none of them was particularly good.  I’m saving the best for last.  In this article, we talk about the “second best” beers I had during my Jamaican vacation.

It was clear when I researched Jamaican beer that, for the most part, brewmasters there focus on either straight-up macro-style lagers or stouts.  I’d hoped the flavored versions of Red Stripe Light or the Talawah lager would  contain something uniquely Jamaican, or at least something more interesting than a standard Bud Light.  Unfortunately, I was disappointed there.

The last Red Stripe product I tried was this one:

Red Stripe Bold
I thought that if any Red Stripe product won me over, it would be this one.  After all, anything claiming to be more “bold” than Red Stripe could only improve on the original.

It’s a highly carbonated, clear gold color when poured from the bottle.  The carbonation is very much light champagne.  You actually feel the tickle of the bubbles like you do with champagne.
The aroma is clean, but slightly yeasty.

The flavor is smooth, with no particular complexity or depth to it.  The finish is mildly hoppy, which I guess is the “bold” part.

Overall, I rate it a 6/10.  It’s certainly better than plain Red Stripe, but not much better.

A bartender I befriended at one of the resort’s bars was kind enough to bring me a bottle of one of his favorite stouts, which we’ll look at next.

Guinness Foreign Extra
Don’t let the label fool you.  This stout is actually brewed in Jamaica under the authority of the famous Guinness brews from the United Kingdom.  It’s not an import.

It pours a thick, syrupy black with chocolate milk colored brown head.

The aroma is the deep, dark malty smell you associate with any Guinness stout you’ve ever had here in the United States.

The flavor, too, is a dead ringer for the American version.  If you like Guinness here, you’ll like it equally well there.  If you don’t like Guinness here, avoid it in Jamaica also.

I get lots of deeply roasted barley, some hops, and a dose of coffee.  The finish is a little bitter, just as with other Guinness stouts.

For my taste, this was better than anything in the Red Stripe product line that I tasted.

I’m rating it a solid 7/10.  It’s nothing special in the realm of stouts, but there’s nothing at all wrong with it.

The last entry is another Guinness.  This one is labeled Arthur Guinness Day Foreign Extra Stout.

Arthur Guinness Day Foreign Extra Stout

To be honest, I suspect that this is very likely the same stout reviewed above.  The timing of my visit to Jamaica coincided with the “Arthur Guinness Day” celebration held by the brewer.  However, since it could actually be a separate brew for the occasion, I decided to treat it as such for this post.

It pours a pitch black with a thick grayish brown head that dissipates fairly slowly and leaves behind a few thick rings of lacing.

The aroma is all alcohol and roasted grain.

The flavor is consistent from start to finish.  It is mildly hoppy, with elements of coffee and charcoal to it.  The lingering finish is hoppy, too.  Like the Guinness brew above, it’s not dramatically different from the Guinness stouts you get here in the USA.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing.

I’m rating it 7/10.

Tomorrow night, in Part 3, I’ll reveal my two favorite Jamaican beers.  Both come from the same brewer, and both are stouts.  But they differ significantly from either of those above.

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