Guinness touts new stout

MILWAUKEE — The makers of Guinness are touting a new stout beer in the United States, a maltier, fizzier version of its older, creamier sibling, the world's best-selling stout.

"This is more about refreshment and zing," said Guinness master brewer Fergal Murray, who created the new carbonated brew.

The limited-edition Guinness 250 Anniversary Stout celebrates Arthur Guinness' signing of a 9,000-year lease in 1759 at St. James' Gate Brewery in Dublin, still the company's flagship brewery.

When it arrives April 24, the anniversary brew will be the first new stout that Guinness has exported to the United States since it brought over Guinness Draught in the mid-1960s.

Guinness Draught, first brewed after Arthur Guinness decided to stop making ales and start making porters in 1779, became synonymous with Ireland over the centuries. More than 1.8 billion pints are consumed in 150 countries each year.

The anniversary stout will be available in the United States, Australia and Singapore, according to Diageo PLC, owner of Guinness and the world's largest liquor producer. The company's other brands include Johnnie Walker and Baileys.

The beer is expected to be available for about six months, said Patrick Hughes, brand director for Diageo Guinness USA.

The new beer features carbonation, two types of malt and triple hops, Murray said.

The use of carbonation, rather than a combination of nitrogen and carbon dioxide, which is used by Guinness Draught, results in more zing.

The taste is different, too, though it retains the rich flavor of Guinness Draught. Guinness 250 Anniversary Stout also has more alcohol, at about 5 percent by volume, compared with 4.2 percent for Guinness Draught.

Pouring will be simpler, too. This anniversary stout is poured at an angle; the pouring of Guinness Draught involves filling the glass about three-fourths of the way at an angle, letting the surge of foam settle, then pouring the rest.

Guinness accounts for about 70 percent of stout volume in the United States, dominating a category that makes up less than 1 percent of total U.S. beer volume, according to research firm Nielsen Co.

Guinness sales volume slipped about 3.9 percent in the United States in the 52-week period that ended March 7, according to Niel-sen, while dollar sales fell 1.7 percent to $127.2 million in food, drug, liquor and convenience stores.

Nick Lake, vice president of beverage alcohol for Nielsen, said the introduction of the new beer "has the making of a very successful initiative," citing the brand's heritage and a trend of U.S. consumers increasingly wanting fuller, tastier beers like stouts. Lake also said consumers want more variety, and brewers are providing more seasonal and limited-release beers in response. The category was up 27.6 percent in sales volume in the latest 52-week period.