What Does Guinness Taste Like? And is it a Good Beer?

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Guinness is a stout-style beer that showcases the taste of roasted malt. In this article, we look deeper at Guinness Draught’s distinct flavor to understand what that means for beer drinkers and why Guinness has become so beloved worldwide.

So, pour yourself a Guinness Stout, give it a few minutes to let the foamy head settle, and let’s begin. 

History: When was Guinness released?

While the St James Brewery has been in production since 1759, the nitrogenized drink we know today was developed 200 years later in 1959.

The change came when Guinness brewer, Michael Ash, developed a way to force Nitrogen gas into a solution. The result is a creamy mouthfeel.

If you believe that the Draught versions of Guinness taste flat, that’s because the ratio of nitrogen to carbon dioxide in the beer’s solution is inverse to other draft beers.

Guinness beers are carbonated with 70 percent nitrogen and 30 percent carbon dioxide, a gas blend that has come to be known as Guinness gas.

Despite what the original recipe for Arthur Guinness’s beer tasted like, Irish Stout developed as a reaction to the growth and popularity of London Porter. The term stout grew from a robust version of porter or stout porter.   


Guinness Draught is an Irish Dry Stout. This ale is made with dark and roasted malts. The roasted character can be described as a coffee like flavor lending a dry, bitter mouthfeel.

These beers should be dark black, and Guinness is a black beer, but when held up to the light, Guinness reveals flashes of garnet red; medium-low to medium-bodied beers per the BJCP and are noted for their smoothness despite high hop rates and dark malts. 


The roasted flavor that Guinness and other stout beer are known for is first detected as the aroma. The use of roasted barley has an aroma of coffee elements.

Guinness Extra Stout and Guinness Foreign Extra Stout have a more complex aroma, which is more milky chocolate and coffee beans. Each aroma is a product of the roasted unmalted barley that these stouts have in common. 


All stouts are known for their characteristic color. Most stouts are starkly black. When you pour Guinness, a creamy, tan foam will fill the glass. As the beer settles, the highly hydrophobic nitrogen races to escape the beer’s solution.

These tiny bubbles create an illusion that the foam head is falling. Once it settles, Guinness beer will present a beautiful off-white head of creamy foam that should last the entire drinking experience. 

Flavor: Guinness Beer Taste

When drinking an Irish stout like Guinness, expect to taste roasted coffee and espresso flavors that complement the beer’s hop bitterness. Other examples can have notes of caramel or a malty taste.

However, Guinness Draught has a very straightforward low to medium neutral roastiness. It doesn’t taste like a specific type of coffee, but you can pick up a pleasant herbal hop component that is very low. It seems disparaging, but the best way to describe it is ashy. 


Guinness is a low-medium-bodied beer. It has a creamy mouthfeel which creates a smooth texture on the palate, a unique taste if you’re accustomed to the bubbly texture or carbonic bite that most beers with higher levels of CO2 have.  

Guinness Calories and Nutritional Information

Guinness Draught has 125 calories per 12 fluid ounces. Most of the calories in standard beers are derived from the beer’s alcohol content. Guinness and other beers from the British Isles used isinglass as a fining agent to clarify beer.

Isinglass is a product of fish bladders, making the beer not vegan-friendly. Today, Guinness has discontinued using isinglass for filtering and proudly promoted Guinness as vegan.

Guinness Alcohol Content

At 4.2 percent alcohol by volume, Guinness’s alcohol content is slightly less than average beers at around five percent. Other beers by Guinness range in strength, with the Foreign Extra Stout benign the strongest at seven and one-half percent ABV.

Guinness Brewing Process & Ingredients

The Guinness taste relies solely on the beer’s brewing process. Ales are brewed and fermented at warmer temperatures than lagers. This warmer fermentation results in yeast flavors being more apparent than with lagers in the final product.

Ales tend to be rounder and fruitier than lagers. This isn’t easy to pick up in the more neutral Guinness Draught, but Guinness Extra stout showcases a fruity bouquet from its chosen ale yeast. 

The use of roasted barley is an essential part of the Guinness recipe. Though many will debate the need for the ingredient in stouts, a stout isn’t a stout without it. Though, BJCP notes similar beers in Ireland do not rely on the component; they are more similar to a London porter.

What’s the Best Way to Drink Guinness?

Short answer: However you want.


Ales ferment warmer and tend to showcase more flavor at warmer temperatures. Drink Guinness at a temperature of around 55 degrees F. If your fridge is at 38 degrees, take your beer out and wait 10 or 15 minutes before serving it. I know – easier said than done. 

Can, bottle or glass?

While Guinness offers a variety of packaging, the best way to enjoy a pint of Guinness is from a Nitro tap. A nitro tap faucet has a screen that helps express the tiny bubbles of the beer, creating the classic Guinness cascade. So how can you beat that at home?

Food Pairings

Guinness beer is a highly versatile beer to pair with food. The stout’s roasted flavor complements classic Irish dishes like beef stew and kidney pie. The savory minced meat pie, cottage pie, is also a great pairing with Guinness alongside mashed potatoes and Irish soda bread. 

The dryness of Guinness makes it a great contrast to seafood bringing out the sweet flavors of shellfish, while the low carbonation will cleanse the palate of residual fish oil. You could even pair a Guinness for dessert with a decadent chocolate cake. 

Would Suit?

Guinness is a popular beer in Ireland and has strong cultural significance to those of Irish descent. But Guinness isn’t just for St. Paddy’s day. This smooth, roasty, bitter beer has been optimized for drinking enjoyment. It is best in a pub with an order of fish and chips or a dozen oysters on the half shell. 

While the first taste might be a bit to get used to, this classic stout with the creamy taste bucks the fruity flavor or hazy IPA and provides a refreshing, roasty, and bitter taste. 

Similar Beers to Guinness?

Today many types of stout beers taste like or are similar to Guinness. First, give the other stouts in the portfolio a try. These taste like Guinness Draught but without smoothness. The result is a more flavor-forward drinking experience. One such beer is Guinness’ Over the Moon Milk Stout, a sweet stout style that elevates the Guinness taste with home chocolate and coffee elements. 

Another beer that tastes similar to Guinness Draught is Lefthand’s Milk Stout on Nitro. This Colorado brewery has unlocked the mystery of bottled nitrogenized beers without needing a widget. 

Other beers that Guinness beer lovers should taste:

  • Beamish Irish Stout
  • Harpoon Boston Irish Stout
  • Murphy’s Irish Stout
  • O’Hara’s Irish Stout
  • Porterhouse Wrasslers 4X 

What Do Other People Think of Guinness?

Guinness is recognized as a decent to good beer by most of the leading beer rating sites. 

ReviewerGuinness Draft
Rate Beer3.39
Beer Advocate82 (Good)

Final Thoughts: Is Guinness a Good Beer?

Do you want a beer for drinking beer? For enjoying the company of friends or with a tasty meal? Today’s beer-scape severely needs to include these types of beers. The focus is on taste or crazy flavors.

Why is nostalgia more critical than if you’d order the beer again? Guinness is the way to go if you crave an old-school stout to enjoy for what it is. Sláinte!


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Andy Sparhawk is an avid beer lover and the former editor-in-chief for CraftBeer.com. Andy is the lead writer for The Beer Babe and lives in Westminster, Colorado, with his family. As beer enthusiast and experienced beer judge, he loves sharing his experiences with The Beer Babe's dedicated audience of beer enthusiasts.