Island Hops: Guinness’ New West Indies Porter

Words by Jesse Serwer

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Every Caribbean island of note has at least one domestic beer that’s cherished and enjoyed locally. In a select few cases, these beers are also appreciated and enjoyed on neighboring islands and around the world. But the honor of being the most revered and ubiquitous beer across the region is reserved for one from Ireland: Guinness. (Holland’s Heineken follows at a close second.)

Guinness even makes its own special brew specifically for the islands, along with Asia and Africa: Foreign Extra Stout, a hoppier version of classic Guinness with a higher alcohol content and a more bitter taste, introduced in 1801. “It was this beer that turned Guinness into a global phenomenon,” according to Beer-Pages.com. (The extra hops were added as a natural preservative for the long journeys the beer took by ship in its early days).

In Jamaica, the stout is so entrenched in the culture that it’s inspired the island’s most popular ice cream flavor, and is often employed as a treatment for the common cold.

Now, more than 200 years after Foreign Extra Stout’s introduction to the islands, Guinness is bringing a bit of the West Indies to the Emerald Isle, with its new West Indies Porter, one of two new special porters introduced this month (along with the Dublin Porter above). The new brews are said to be authentic recipes “inspired by brewers’ diaries from the late 1700s and early 1800s.” Guinness tells us in a press release that the beer is “complex yet mellow, hoppy with notes of toffee and chocolate,” and, as with Foreign Extra Stout, a greater amount of hops are used for preservation’s sake. (It’s ABV, however, is considerably lower than its counterparts, however).

For now, Guinness West Indies Porter is only available in select pubs in Ireland, so you’ll have to make that flight to Dublin if you want to try it. But we’re pulling for an international rollout, all islands included.

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