Appearance: “Well, it’s black—or nearly so. It has the loveliest display of tiny bubbles that are visible after the pour. And the head on a properly-poured pint is a thing of beauty. Would you call it ivory? Off-white? Maybe even light beige? I don’t know how to describe it. You’d need an interior decorator to come up with the right term.”
Aroma: “Smells a bit like a strong black coffee to me. The roasted barley nose is there, too.”
Taste: “I would say that creaminess is the hallmark of good Guinness. You experience it first through the head, but there’s some in the body of the beer, too, that plays off of the bitterness of the roasted malts.
Food Affinity: “This might surprise you, as most Americans feel that Guinness has such a powerful flavor. It is too dominant for some dishes, but it’s a wonderful accompaniment to fresh oysters. Yes, oysters on the half shell—any variety of oyster works. One fellow I met called it ‘counter-intuitive,’ but he changed his tune when we insisted he try a sip of Guinness with his oysters instead of his Chardonnay.
--Guest reviewer Sean Butler began drinking his Guinness in County Louth. He still rates the Guinness and oysters in Carlingford as one his life’s highlights, but he loves exploring similar options along America’s West Coast.