Ed. Note: Our intrepid contibutor, Patrick St. Jean, ventured out to Savor Restaurant in Dallas last week to check out Guinness’ latest iteration.
By Patrick St. Jean
Last Tuesday evening, we headed down to Savor Gastropub near Klyde Warren Park in Dallas for the introduction of Guinness’ new Nitro IPA. We got there a little bit early and spent some time talking to Ian Colgan, Guinness’ Beer Ambassador, as well as the American staff helping him out. Our group was seated outside, much to the delight of the folks from Guinness, as they were enjoying our lovely local weather.
[Disclosure: Guinness provided an invitation and complimentary beer and food. These opinions our ours.]
Ian started off with a short lecture on some of Guinness’s history including his tenure with the company as well as how he became one of its Beer Ambassadors. He also spoke about how the IPA came into being, in addition to giving us some information on the nitro widget used in the cans. The most interesting takeaways were that the Nitro IPA is brewed at Guinness’ pilot facility at the St. James Gate brewery in Dublin, Ireland, and is a U.S. exclusive. From what Ian said, Ireland, the U.K. and Europe are still getting used to styles like IPAs. After that, Ian cracked the first can and showed us the pour, making sure to draw our attention to the surge, which was definitely impressive, looking very similar to what I would have expected from a nitro draft pint.
Once the demonstration was completed, we got to open our own cans and start tasting. After letting the head settle, which takes about a minute, I started with nosing it. The aroma is definitely gentle as compared to a West Coast IPA, though that shouldn’t be taken to mean that the bittering hops aren’t present, because they are. It’s just that this is closer in style to a traditional English IPA than the extremely hop-forward American IPAs. The hops used are Admiral, Celeia, Topaz, Challenger and Cascade. It has a dark copper color, thanks to the inclusion of roasted barley in the grain bill and has a nice creamy white head. It weighs in at 5.8% ABV, which is closer to the low end of the style’s range, but still a decent strength.The flavor is excellent, with a good malt backbone, which is complemented by both the roasted malt and the selection of hops. Hop bitterness is noticeable, but not over the top, and seems to be brought out by the nitrogenation. It has a smooth and creamy mouthfeel, due to the smaller nitrogen bubbles. Head retention is excellent, with my first glass retaining at least 5mm of head until it was empty.
Alongside our first pour, we enjoyed some calamari and fried oyster appetizers as well as a salad. The Nitro IPA paired really well with both dishes, complementing the breading and chili glaze of the appetizers nicely as well as the vinaigrette of the salad. I finished off my first beer before the main courses arrived so that I would have a fresh glass for the salmon that I ordered as well as the rotisserie chicken that my wife ordered. This is a fantastic IPA to pair with either dish, due to its relatively mild nature.
The hop bite and alcohol cleanse the palate after the oily salmon, and the lingering bitterness works well with the next bite. The same can be said for the rotisserie chicken, due to the flavors that the chef used. Let’s be clear, even though this is an English-style IPA, it still has a noticeable amount of hop bitterness, and so won’t go well with more delicate flavors. This held true during the dessert course, where it paired really well with the absolutely delicious cherry mini fried pie and the German chocolate cake, but totally overpowered the crème brûlée.
With the meal’s conclusion, the evening’s official events were finished, though we did stick around and chat with Ian a little more. We talked about homebrewing as well as commercial brewing operations, gave them some travel and dining tips for their next stop, in Austin, as well as discussing local craft breweries. The Guinness Nitro IPA is an excellent, lighter English IPA that will definitely stay in the rotation for a couple reasons. The first is simply to have a good nitro beer at home. Second, it’s good to have an introductory IPA for people newer to the wider variety of beer styles available. It’s available now in 11.2-oz. cans, and on tap in select bars.