Guinness Extra Stout vs Draught – arguably two of the most popular and best-tasting stouts on the market these famous beers do share some similarities however there are also some significant differences between them.
In this guide, we are going to take a look at the differences between these two beers, what makes each unique from the other, as well as help you decide which may suit your beer preferences better.
Guinness Extra Stout vs Draught History
Any true beer fan knows that one of the aspects of being able to enjoy a beer is to appreciate its origin story or history. When it comes to Guinness it would be hard to find a beer with a more storied history.
The Guinness brewery was originally founded in 1759 by Arthur Guinness and was and still is to this day located at 1759 St. Jame’s Gate in Dublin and will be for some time as they famously signed a 9,000-year lease on the location.
The Extra Stout is brewed following a recipe that dates back to 1821 based on the original Guinness stout which was a very staunch beer strong in alcohol and bitter tasting and not one that the casual beer drinker would enjoy. As a result of this in the 1970s, the Extra’s recipe was reformulated to what it is today and became a much easier drinking beer.
The Draught, relatively speaking, is a newer beer brewed for the first time in 1959 as a tribute to the 200-year anniversary of the signing of the 9,000-year lease on the brewery at St. Jame’s Gate.
Guinness Extra Stout vs Draught Composition
Like all beers the main difference between these stouts is the ingredients used to brew them, i.e. their recipes; however, a unique difference between them is not just the difference in their ingredients but more importantly the gas that is used to carbonate them.
Guinness Draught is the more popular of the two and what you will typically be served if you order a pint at a pub. It is known for its creamy texture and soft almost pillow-like mouthfeel, this unique trait is a result of it being carbonated with nitrogen. Most beers including Guinness Extra Stout are carbonated with only carbon dioxide whereas the Draught uses a mixture of 75% nitrogen and 25% CO2.
As far as the difference in their other ingredients the Draught contains malted barley, unmalted roasted barley, hops, and yeast, whereas the Extra Stout contains pale malt, Irish Barley, hops, and yeast.
Guinness Extra Stout vs Draught Appearance
At first glance, they might appear to look very similar to each other as a result of their creamy head (foam) and both being very dark in color. However, upon closer inspection, you will notice some distinguishable differences in their appearances.
The Extra Stout is an extremely dark beer, where most stouts have a dark ruby color the Extra is black. It also has carbonation bubbles that can be seen when you look at the side of the beer, these are from the CO2 used to carbonate it.
The Draught Stout on the other hand is very distinguishable as soon as it is poured into your glass. As a result of the nitrogen which creates smaller bubbles than carbon dioxide, you will notice a cascade of bubbles that appear to travel from the top of the glass down to the bottom. The pour is fascinating to watch and not something you will see from beers poured using CO2. As the beer is poured its color changes from a creamy-looking lighter brown into a darker ruby red color.
Both beers are known for their excellent head retention which results in a foamy creamy looking head.
Guinness Extra Stout vs Draught Taste
Perhaps the most important aspect when it comes to deciding which of these stouts is for you is how they taste.
The Extra Stout is considered by many to be the prime example of what a Dry Irish Stout should taste like. It has a fully rounded flavor with a perfect balance between the bitterness provided by the hops and the sweetness from the malt. As a result of being carbonated with CO2, you will find it has a somewhat sharp and crisp mouthfeel. You will also pick up hints of its darker malt flavor, hints of caramel, some fruity notes, and a slightly roasted flavor from the barley. It finishes dry and clean.
With the Guinness Draught, the second thing you will notice after the pour itself is the rich-looking creamy head. Where the Extra is sharp and crisp tasting the Draught is smooth and creamy. It also has a fully rounded flavor with a nice balance between its bitter and sweet flavors. You will also pick up light flavors from the roasted barley and many claim this beer has a slight coffee and caramel-like flavor.
Note on Aroma: The smell of a beer actually plays an important role in how we perceive the taste. In the case of both of these stouts, you will pick up aromas of coffee and caramel that increase these characteristics in the flavor.
Guinness Extra Stout vs Draught Alcohol Content
Lastly, an important difference between these two beers is their alcohol content or ABV (alcohol by volume).
What many find surprising is that Guinness Draught is actually a light beer with an ABV of 4.2%. As a result, many fans of this beer consider this to be a summer beer like other light beers. It is surprising to most people when they discover this because of how this beer looks, most assume that due to its dark color it is a heavy and strong beer.
On the other hand, the Guinness Extra Stout is a stronger beer with an ABV of 5.6% and even higher in other parts of the world where the recipe is altered slightly to fit local preferences.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Guinness Extra Stout healthy? There is a perception that Guinness is healthy and good for you. This stems from marketing the company did back in the first half of the 20th century, where they actually advertised that it was good for you. Most beers do have many nutritional benefits including vitamins and antioxidants, Guinness has more nutritional value than most beers. However, its health benefits do need to be weighed against the health concerns of overindulging in beer.
Why Does Guinness taste better on tap? The reason that most people prefer the taste of it on tap versus a can or a bottle is because of the nitrogen used to serve the beer on tap which causes the tiny bubbles that produce the creaminess. This is actually why you will find a floating widget in the Guinness can, it was invented as a method of replicating the creaminess you experience when served on tap.
Are you supposed to shake Guinness in a can? No, there is no reason to shake the can, it does nothing for the beer. The widget does not need to be shaken and goes to work introducing nitrogen back into the beer when the can is opened.
Why is Guinness so much better in Ireland? This is a belief held by many that has never been proven, but from our personal experience we firmly believe it to be true and that indeed in Ireland it does taste better. There could be a few reasons for this. One is that Guinness does not travel well, as it gets further away from where it brews it ages, and its quality is reduced.
The other reason is that in Ireland it is consumed by a large percentage of the population so it is always flowing through the beer lines and taps instead of sitting stagnant in them all day which can affect the quality. And lastly, the local pub owners know exactly how to serve a pint of it, they know the right glass to serve it, they know the right temperature to keep it at and they know exactly how much head to serve it with.
The Final Word
To summarize when it comes to Guinness Extra Stout vs Draught although there are some similarities they are in essence vastly different beers in many regards. They taste different with the Extra being more bitter and crisp and the Draught having a much smoother and creamier taste. On closer inspection, they look different with the Extra being a darker color and having carbonation bubbles visible, and lastly, their ABV is different with the Extra coming in at 5.6% vs 4.2% for the Draught.
P.S. If you would like to brew your own version of the Guinness Draught check out this Dry Irish Stout recipe.
P.P.S. And lastly, be sure to pick up your gift from us. Grab Robb’s top 5 best-selling recipes from his brew pub; details on side of the blog or at the bottom on your smart device. Cheers!