Could you tell the difference between the main four nitrogenated Irish stouts? Last week a small group of us from the ICB community attempted to do it. In case you aren't aware, the 4 main stouts are Murphy's and Beamish of Cork, Guinness of Dublin and and the relatively recent edition of O Hara's stout from the Carlow Brewing Company. O Neill's pub on Suffolk Street in Dublin was the only venue where this experiment could be carried out because it is unique among Dublin pubs in that it serves all of the Irish stouts on draught.
I wasn't very confident going into this experiment because the only one I thought would stand out was O Hara's due to its fuller flavour, and so this proved to be the case, as I managed to identify it on the first sip. The others were more difficult until I got to the last which turned out to be the chocolate containing Murphy's and was easily picked out from the rest. As for the remaining Guinness and Beamish, I was stumped. I couldn't confidently tell them apart and so took the dodgy strategy of distinguishing them on serving temperature. One was far colder than the other and I surmised this was Guinness as it is often served at shockingly cold temperatures not befitting of a dry stout. I was wrong.
It was a fun evening and I recommend it to anyone who considers themselves a beer lover and as an educational introduction into blind tasting. The instigator of this game, Dave, has done some statistical analysis on the Irish Craft Brewer site. He can explain the significance of the choices we made far better than I.