The Guinness shirker’s guide to St Patrick’s day in Brighton 🇮🇪

It’s unsurprising that given the export of Irish culture throughout the world, and the global taste for Guinness, that the 2 combine riotously on the 17th March, the annual celebration which marks the day their Patron Saint bit the dust.

A 2018 estimate clocks worldwide consumption at a whopping 13,000,000 pints of Guinness on St Patrick’s day. That’s 819% more Guinness than on a typical day. 

It sometimes seems like there are no alternatives to Guinness on the high street, and I might shock a few people when I reveal that Guinness is not the only Irish Stout available… 😳

In fact Guinness was created in order to copy the Porters and Stouts coming out of England in the 18th century, and there are many categories of both. But the prolific dominance of the Guinness machine means other dark beers, Nitro Stouts in particular, get very little airtime on a typical bar.

So Brighton Beer Blog and friends made it our mission to find the Guinness alternatives that quietly lurk beneath the radar, neatly termed ‘Guinn-ish’ by Clark of Hand Brew Co.

So if you’re celebrating St Patrick’s Day this weekend, or any other time, and want an alternative to Guinness, here’s what you can drink in Brighton…

Beer:  Otto

Brewer:  Hand Brew Co
Where?  The Hand in Hand

 

The Hand is a fantastic little brew pub in Kemptown serving loads of great beers from the Hand Brew Co brewery in Worthing. The still do sometimes brew on the kit that’s installed across the floors above and below the main bar. Their beers are definitely brewed with passion by locals, for locals.

Otto was served very fresh, not too cold with a great foamy head. It’s a rich ‘dry stout’ with malt, robust malty flavours, dark chocolate and coffee running through. Great creamy mouthfeel. a lingering smokey finish. One for people who like their dark beer rich.

otto stout in the hand in hand brighton
black heart in brewdog brighton

Beer:  Black Heart

Brewery:  Brewdog

 

The controversial beer on the list no doubt, but Brewdog make a great Guinness alternative. Folklore has it that the MDs created the original Jet Black Heart as a big F-U to Diageo. They continue to play their pranks, like offering free pints of Black Heart in exchange for Guinness glasses and using slogans such as ‘Toucan play that game’ on branding. Oh those cheeky blighters..

The drink has an initial carbonation which combines with bright moreish notes of dark malt and bitterness. Not overly creamy, just smooth and very gluggable. Becomes smokey and musty with coffee and dark cacao and leaves a subtle lingering taste. As far as I know this still isn’t Vegan.

Beer:  Black Rock Nitro Stout

Brewery:  Unbarred

 

Another local alternative from well established Brighton brewers Unbarred.  Their Black Rock is served under Nitro though the head vanished quickly. 

I got vanilla chocolate aromas. Body is light, soft and quite creamy. Vanilla and chocolate flavours dominate with a brown sugar sweetness. For me, what bitterness there is in the finish doesn’t quite blend seamlessly, but it’s a pleasant beer.

unbarred black rock nitro stout in glass with head
abyss it came from God cacao stout in the evening star brighton

Beer:  It Came From GOD

Brewery:  Abyss
Where?  Evening Star

 

Based up the road in Lewes, the team at Abyss are churning out some noteworthy beers which you can find pretty reliably in Brighton, and ‘It came From GOD’ is one of them. It’s billed as a cacao stout and they praise the holy cacao seed in this beer, referencing the Aztecs who believed cacao seeds were the gift of Quetzalcoatl, the God of Wisdom.

The beer gives flavours of vanilla. subtle malts and a smooth and mellow mouthfeel. I really love this beer for it’s great depth of flavour. It comes together very well.

Beer:  Camden Stout

Brewery: Camden Brewery
Where?  Maris and otter

 

If in the vicinity I try and find an excuse to visit this great Harveys run pub on Western Road, and this stout is now a VERY good excuse.

A fantastic head of foam which probably would have lasted all night if given the chance. Clean and crisp but also light and effortless. I found this to be very close to Guinness in terms of mouthfeel and flavour. It’s brilliantly balanced, perhaps a little less malty, and a little more chocolatey than Guinness, but really they are quite similar other than the 2 pour shenanigans. Very easy drinking and I could easily have sunk 3 or more pints. 

We had no expectations but it delivered very high for us all. Not only that, but for the foreseeable future pints are £4.50 per pint. Ludicrous for a beer this good.

camden stout empty glass with eyes and lacing
o haras irish stout in Brick Brighton 4 pints

Beer: O’Hara’s Irish Stout

Brewery:  Carlow Brewing Company
Where?  Brick

 

From a beer which united us in our appreciation, to one which divided opinion.
There’s an initial bright tanginess to the beer, which one of the more articulate of us compared to the aroma of petrichor, or rain hitting fresh cut grass.  I was getting liquorice and espresso, a combination I couldn’t get on board with.

It’s definitely a characterful beer with plenty of flavour depth. Toasted malt, coffee, strong dark chocolate. A really smooth and worthy alternative to Guinness served in a brilliant tap bar.

Beer:  London Black

Brewery:  Anspach & Hobday
Where?  Hole In The Wall

 

For many, the Nitro London Porter by Anspach & Hobday is the holy grail of dark beers, and the only true alternative to Guinness.  And if there is a contender to the Stout throne, it makes sense that it’s a beer which invokes the rich heritage of London Porters, the very beer style which inspired Arthur Guinness to create his Irish Stout. 

Personally I found this to be the richest beer of the ones we tried. Lovely carbonation combines with lots of dark chocolate notes and bitterness. Really deep and complex with dark roasted malt. Finishes dry and smooth. The Carbonation and dry sensations combine really well.

I couldn’t drink more than 1 and I’ve heard people say exactly the same, although with a different number on the end.

anspach & hobday london black porter in hole in the wall brighton

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The Guinness shirkers, guide to St Patricks day in Brighton

It’s unsurprising that given the export of Irish culture throughout the world, and the global taste for Guinness, that the 2 combine riotously on the 17th March, the annual celebration which marks the day their Patron Saint bit the dust.

A 2018 estimate clocks worldwide consumption at a whopping 13,000,000 pints of Guinness on St Patrick’s day. That’s 819% more Guinness than on a typical day. 

It sometimes seems like there are no alternatives to Guinness on the high street, and I might shock a few people when I reveal that Guinness is not the only Irish Stout available… 😳

In fact Guinness was created in order to copy the Porters and Stouts coming out of England in the 18th century, and there are many categories of both. But the prolific dominance of the Guinness machine means other dark beers, Nitro Stouts in particular, get very little airtime on a typical bar.

So Brighton Beer Blog and friends made it our mission to find the Guinness alternatives that quietly lurk beneath the radar, neatly termed ‘Guinn-ish’ by Clark of Hand Brew Co.

So if you’re celebrating St Patrick’s Day this weekend, or any other time, and want an alternative to Guinness, here’s what you can drink in Brighton…

Beer:  Otto

Brewer:  Hand Brew Co
Where?  The Hand in Hand

 

The Hand is a fantastic little brew pub in Kemptown serving loads of great beers from the Hand Brew Co brewery in Worthing. The still do sometimes brew on the kit that’s installed across the floors above and below the main bar. Their beers are definitely brewed with passion by locals, for locals.

Otto was served very fresh, not too cold with a great foamy head. It’s a rich ‘dry stout’ with malt, robust malty flavours, dark chocolate and coffee running through. Great creamy mouthfeel. a lingering smokey finish. One for people who like their dark beer rich.

otto stout in the hand in hand brighton

Beer:  Black Heart

Brewery:  Brewdog

 

The controversial beer on the list no doubt, but Brewdog make a great Guinness alternative. Folklore has it that the MDs created the original Jet Black Heart as a big F-U to Diageo. And they continue to play their pranks, like offering free pints of Black Heart in exchange for Guinness glasses and using slogans such as ‘Toucan play that game’ on branding. Oh those cheeky blighters..

The drink has an initial carbonation which combines with bright moreish notes of dark malt and bitterness. Not overly creamy, just smooth and very gluggable. Becomes smokey and musty with coffee and dark cacao and leaves a subtle lingering taste. As far as I know this still isn’t Vegan.

black heart in brewdog brighton

Beer:  Black Rock Nitro Stout

Brewery:  Unbarred

 

Another local alternative from well established Brighton brewers Unbarred.  Their Black Rock is served under Nitro though the head vanished quickly. 

I got vanilla chocolate aromas. Body is light, soft and quite creamy. Vanilla and chocolate flavours dominate with a brown sugar sweetness. For me, what bitterness there is in the finish doesn’t quite blend seamlessly, but it’s a pleasant beer.

unbarred black rock nitro stout in glass with head

Beer:  It Came From GOD

Brewery:  Abyss
Where?  Evening Star

 

Based up the road in Lewes, the team at Abyss are churning out some noteworthy beers which you can find pretty reliably in Brighton, and ‘It came From GOD’ is one of them. It’s billed as a cacao stout and they praise the holy cacao seed in this beer, referencing the Aztecs who believed cacao seeds were the gift of Quetzalcoatl, the God of Wisdom.

The beer gives flavours of vanilla. subtle malts and a smooth and mellow mouthfeel. I really love this beer for it’s great depth of flavour. It comes together very well.

abyss it came from God cacao stout in the evening star brighton

Beer:  Camden Stout

Brewery: Camden Brewery
Where?  Maris and otter

 

If in the vicinity I try and find an excuse to visit this great Harveys run pub on Western Road, and this stout is now a VERY good excuse.

A fantastic head of foam which probably would have lasted all night if given the chance. Clean and crisp but also light and effortless. I found this to be very close to Guinness in terms of mouthfeel and flavour. It’s brilliantly balanced, perhaps a little less malty, and a little more chocolatey than Guinness, but really they are quite similar other than the 2 pour shenanigans. Very easy drinking and I could easily have sunk 3 or more pints. 

We had no expectations but it delivered very high for us all. Not only that, but for the foreseeable future pints are £4.50 per pint. Ludicrous for a beer this good.

camden stout empty glass with eyes and lacing

Beer: O’Hara’s Irish Stout

Brewery:  Carlow Brewing Company
Location:  Brick

 

From a beer which united us in our appreciation, to one which divided opinion.
There’s an initial bright tanginess to the beer, which one of the more articulate of us compared to the aroma of petrichor, or rain hitting fresh cut grass.  I was getting liquorice and espresso, a combination I couldn’t get on board with.

It’s definitely a characterful beer with plenty of flavour depth. Toasted malt, coffee, strong dark chocolate. A really smooth and worthy alternative to Guinness served in a brilliant tap bar.

o haras irish stout in Brick Brighton 4 pints

Beer:  London Black

Brewery:  Anspach & Hobday
Where?  Hole In The Wall

 

For many, the Nitro London Porter by Anspach & Hobday is the holy grail of dark beers, and the only true alternative to Guinness.  And if there is a contender to the Stout throne, it makes sense that it’s a beer which invokes the rich heritage of London Porters, the very beer style which inspired Arthur Guinness to create his Irish Stout.

Personally I found this to be the richest beer of the ones we tried. Lovely carbonation combines with lots of dark chocolate notes and bitterness. Really deep and complex with dark roasted malt. Finishes dry and smooth. The Carbonation and dry sensations combine really well.

I couldn’t drink more than 1 and I’ve heard people say exactly the same, although with a different number on the end.

anspach & hobday london black porter in hole in the wall brighton

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