Tasting Notes: BeerSmith’s Dry Irish Stout

About a week and a half ago we made a day trip up to Portland. It was supposed to be Bissell Brothers last release of their double IPA Swish until the fall. As we were driving up, Jennie saw that the brewery published their release schedule for the upcoming quarter, and there was indeed more Swish in the pipeline.


We soldiered on since we were already in Maine. Foundation was having their second anniversary party that day as well. In addition to a case of Swish, two four-packs of The Substance, we bought one four-pack each of Epiphany and Blaze, and bottles of two special releases.

My house has a ton of world class hoppy beer. Since hoppy beers don’t keep well I am doing my best to drink them fresh and store them at as cool of a temperature as possible. Even with all of this beer, I still had a hankering for an Irish or Irish-style beer for St. Patrick’s Day. The one store I stopped in was sold out of all of their Guinness, I didn’t see any O’Hara’s, nor any of my local favorites like Samuel Adams Irish Red or Harpoon Celtic Ale. Luckily, my homebrew was ready to go!


BeerSmith’s Dry Irish Stout pours jet black with a creamy off-white head. The head wasn’t chalk-white like found on a Guinness Draught. I suspect this is due to the nitrogen used in Guinness draught, and the way Guinness roasts their barley in-house. The head persists nicely and laces the glass beautifully.

The aroma consists of soft espresso notes and light levels of stone fruit. The flavor and mouthfeel of this bottle-conditioned beer is a cross between the more modern Guinness Draught, and the more traditional Guinness Extra Stout. The conventional carbonation makes this beer not quite as smooth as Guinness Draught, but the roasted flavors from the malt are more prominent. I would love to brew a double batch of this beer where half of the beer is conventionally carbonated, and the other half is served with a nitro tap to compare and contrast.

The beer also has a similar twang that Guinness Draught has. Legend is that Guinness blends a small amount of sour beer to provide that twang. Homebrewers have frequently used acidulated malt, or like I did last year, sour a portion of the beer, to add that element. After brewing and drinking this beer, I don’t think it’s necessary if you use enough roasted barley.

The beer is outstanding. It is sessionable, but still feels substantial. The malt flavor is perfect for the style of beer. That a beer this excellent can come from such a simple recipe shows that less is often more. I can see why Dr. Brad Smith keeps this beer on tap at all times.

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