The heavier and maltier-flavored Foreign Extra Stout is to be produced at Dublin’s St. James Gate brewery because of demand from up to 40,000 African immigrants who find the Irish version watery by comparison.
The African recipe contains seven to eight percent alcohol content, compared to the traditional Irish pint, which contains an average of about 4.3 percent.
The first Guinness exports to Africa were to Sierra Leone in 1827. The company beefed up the alcohol content when there were problems with the black stuff going off during long sea journeys.
Until now, while the home of Guinness produces 2 million pints a day — half of it for export — the “heavy” variety has been made in Nigeria, the third largest market outside Ireland and Britain.
“We are aiming at the African and particularly the Nigerian immigrant population here,” said company spokesperson Jean Doyle. “That is the niche market it will be targeted at.
“I understand Foreign Extra Stout has been coming in from Nigeria in an ad hoc way. I can’t imagine it is going to have a major appeal to Irish palates but that remains to be seen.
“Because of the higher alcohol content and the duty on that, it will be more expensive than ordinary stout.”
The company will replicate the retro-feel of brown bottles and old-fashioned light yellow labels still used in Africa.
“There won’t be a major brand launch, because Foreign Extra Stout is not new,” Doyle said. “It is actually very, very old. It’s just that it is new to Ireland because it hasn’t been available.
“In the early 19th century it was brewed strong and conditioned in oak vats in order to survive the long sea journeys.”
Doyle said there had been a lot of literary references to people like Robert Louis Stevenson, the author of “Treasure Island,” and Paul Gauguin, the French impressionist painter who went to the South Sea islands, enjoying the stronger Guinness in the warmer climates.
“Even in the very early days the company was quite entrepreneurial about focusing on exports,” she said. “We now brew about 15 different varieties of stout for different markets. In some cases the difference would be very slight but it suits the local taste whether it be the Far East or the Caribbean.”