The sucky thing about bottled beer is that it can't fill up a pint glass with that tidy perfectness that you can get from the tap (and any type of Surly -- thanks Surly! -- or those 16 oz cans of Guinness). Hence disappointment number one with Guinness 250, a special edition stout the venerable Dublin brewery released a couple weeks ago for its 250th anniversary. Like all bottled beer, it reaches only about the three-quarters mark in the glass, giving the illusion that it is, I dunno, subpar. Not a good foot to start out on, even though it really has nothing to do with anything.
Disappointment number two: the head. Also subpar. I might have violated some arch rule of pouring beer, but it just seemed ... weak. Saggy. Like an old mattress. And the taste is nothing like the soft, silky, satisfying whipped creaminess that greets you at the top of a regular Guinness.
Maybe that's the problem, having the knowledge and memory of regular Guinness hanging overhead. I just couldn't help but make continuous comparisons between the 250 and the real deal. It's hard not to. There are definite similarities. While the initial taste of the 250 is distinctly lighter and more carbonated than the regular, the flavor doesn't seem all that different than a regular Guinness. It has that same malty sweetness and that rich, coffee quality to it. My drinking companions also thought that it was "less chocolatey" than Guinness original. We all agreed that, at the end of the day, it just doesn't stand up.
Don't think that means it's not worth trying though. It's only gonna be available for six months, after all. And it's going quick. The Four Firkins went through seven cases between last Saturday and Tuesday or so. The St. Louis Park beer shop got 10 more cases in on Wednesday. The shop's selling sixpacks for $9.99.