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March 16, 2009 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

Beir! St Patricks Day

I don’t buy into the whole St Patrick’s Day thing. Personally I’ve never done the green shirt, leprechaun hat, obscenely drunk thing. But it’s always been amusing to see the amount of empty seats in lecture theatres—with half the class being off imbibing half their body weight in Guinness.

And this is what it’s all about to us Kiwis, we don’t really want to know about the Catholic saint. Simply wearing green and drinking (at least) a pint of the ‘good stuff’ will do us. Which is fine. According to our friend Wikipedia, ‘Guinness is good for you’ as it contains antioxidants that help prevent heart disease and is high in iron.

But St Patrick’s Day is also is a day when New Zealanders shun our weak watery local lagers and consume something with a little more depth, and I’ll drink to that.

I’ll drink Guinness Draught (4.1%), that is. The first thing that makes Guinness Draught stand out is its smooth, creamy head. This is achieved by using nitrogen gas in the keg instead of CO2, which creates much smaller bubbles, and looks awesome when it’s settling in the glass as some bubbles travel downwards. The taste is suitably rich and roasted for a stout, with coffee-like notes and subtle dark fruit flavours. The only thing that turns me off with Guinness is how it feels so watery in the mouth—to me a stout should be silky smooth and full bodied.

But never fear. Guinness produces more than one beer. The only other variety available in Wellington is Guinness Special Export (8%), and what a beer it is! This Guinness is created for the Belgian market, which probably explains its strength. This high alcohol content really helps push through the flavours, making for an intense mouthful. It’s like an amplified Guinness Draught, with the coffee now filling the mouth and dark fruits making much more of a showing. Special Export feels silky in the mouth, and coats it with roasted flavours—like a stout should!

So if you find yourself near Regional Wines or Malthouse on St Paddy’s day, try something special and have a Guinness Special Export. See for yourself what a real stout tastes like.

If you have any questions about this week’s beers or any comments, please e-mail me at


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  1. Superior Mind says:

    Hahpeh Seint Pahtrick’s dey to yeh Daeve. Hoep yer hahvin’ a good uine.

    Hahpeh Seint Pahtrick’s to the rest o’ you lo’ aht Salient teu.

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