Beer Info FAQ

What's the Difference Between Guinness and Guinness Original?

Guinness is a world-famous Irish stout known for its rich, smooth flavor and distinct dark color. While many people are familiar with the classic Guinness Draught, there's another version of this iconic beer called Guinness Original. In this article, we'll explore the differences between the two, from their history and brewing process to their unique characteristics.

A Brief History

Both Guinness Draught and Guinness Original can trace their roots back to the 18th century, when Arthur Guinness first established the St. James's Gate Brewery in Dublin, Ireland. The first beer brewed there was a type of ale, but it wasn't long before Arthur began experimenting with darker, more robust beers. By 1801, he had created a new beer that would become the basis for both Guinness Draught and Guinness Original: the West India Porter.

Brewing Process

The brewing process for both Guinness Draught and Guinness Original is similar, as they both start with the same base ingredients: water, barley, hops, and yeast. However, there are some key differences in the brewing process that lead to the unique characteristics of each beer.

Roasted Barley

One of the main differences in the brewing process is the use of roasted barley. While both beers use this ingredient, Guinness Draught uses a slightly higher percentage of roasted barley than Guinness Original. This difference in the amount of roasted barley contributes to the distinct color and flavor of each beer.


Another key difference between the two beers is the use of nitrogen in the carbonation process. Guinness Draught is famous for its creamy, cascading head, which is achieved through the use of nitrogen gas. This gas is less soluble in liquid than carbon dioxide, resulting in smaller, more stable bubbles that create the beer's signature smooth, velvety texture. Guinness Original, on the other hand, is carbonated using only carbon dioxide, which results in larger, less stable bubbles and a more traditional beer head.

Taste and Appearance

The differences in the brewing process lead to noticeable differences in the taste and appearance of the two beers. Here's a breakdown of their characteristics:

Guinness Draught

  • Color: Almost black, with ruby red highlights when held up to the light
  • Aroma: Roasted malt, coffee, and chocolate
  • Taste: Smooth and creamy, with notes of roasted malt, coffee, and a hint of chocolate
  • Mouthfeel: Velvety, with a creamy head and soft carbonation
  • Alcohol Content: 4.2% ABV

Guinness Original

  • Color: Dark brown, with a hint of ruby red
  • Aroma: Roasted malt, caramel, and a touch of hops
  • Taste: Roasted malt, caramel, and a slightly more pronounced hop bitterness
  • Mouthfeel: Lighter and more carbonated than Guinness Draught
  • Alcohol Content: 4.3% ABV

The Science Behind the Flavor

Guinness Draught and Guinness Original both owe their unique flavors to the Maillard reaction, a chemical reaction that occurs between amino acids and reducing sugars during the roasting process. This reaction produces a variety of flavor compounds, including melanoidins, which give the beer its dark color and rich, complex flavor profile. The higher percentage of roasted barley in Guinness Draught leads to a more pronounced Maillard reaction, resulting in a bolder flavor profile compared to Guinness Original.

Which One Should You Choose?

Ultimately, the choice between Guinness Draught and Guinness Original comes down to personal preference. If you're a fan of a smooth, creamy mouthfeel and a slightly milder flavor, then Guinness Draught might be the beer for you. However, if you prefer a more traditional carbonation and a slightly stronger hop bitterness, then you might enjoy Guinness Original.

Regardless of which version you choose, both Guinness Draught and Guinness Original are iconic beers that showcase the rich history and brewing expertise of the St. James's Gate Brewery. So, next time you're at the pub or stocking up your home bar, don't hesitate to give both of these classic Irish stouts a try.

Homebrewing Your Own Guinness-Inspired Beer

If you're an experienced homebrewer and want to try your hand at creating your own Guinness-inspired beer, you can experiment with different levels of roasted barley and carbonation methods to find your perfect balance between the flavors and mouthfeel of Guinness Draught and Guinness Original. Remember that the key to achieving the desired flavor profile lies in the Maillard reaction, so pay close attention to your roasting process.

In conclusion, while Guinness Draught and Guinness Original share a common history and base ingredients, their differences in brewing processes and ingredients result in two distinct beers, each with its own unique characteristics. Whether you prefer the smooth, velvety texture of Guinness Draught or the more traditional carbonation and slightly stronger flavor of Guinness Original, there's no denying that both beers are iconic representations of the storied tradition of Irish brewing.