Notes from West London

Spot the difference: Guinness Export

How is your visual acuity? See if you can spot the differences between the two bottles of Guinness Export pictured below.


I have mentioned Guinness Export on this Blog more than once in recent weeks. It has again become a drink of choice, after a gap of some years. The name on the label is, as you can see above, “Guinness Foreign Extra Stout”, but I have been calling it Guinness Export for over 20 years and I’m not going to stop now. I mentioned it in this piece, about my father’s death last month. My father drank plenty of Guinness in his lifetime, mostly pints of draught, but also from bottles and cans. The only time I recall him drinking Guinness Export was at my 40th birthday party. I had a good supply of the stuff at the time.

This form of one of Ireland’s most famous exports is stronger than the regular version. Its alcohol by volume is 7.5%, so you’d normally drink it by the glass rather than by the pint. The bottles that you can see above come from the two places that brew it: Ireland and Nigeria. I am offering this “spot the difference” challenge partly as a reminder to myself, so that I can distinguish between them.

Our nearest corner shop stocks Guinness Export at a slightly lower price than our local supermarkets and I have picked up a couple of bottles most weekends over the last month, when buying the paper on a Saturday. I have also picked up a few bottles at the supermarket on my last two trips there.  The corner shop sells the version that’s imported from Nigeria. The supermarkets stock bottles imported from Ireland. They taste similar but not identical. To my taste-buds there is a slight aftertaste to the Nigerian brew that is absent from the Irish version.

The bottles too are similar but not identical. In the photograph above the bottle from Ireland is on the left. It has a paper label at the top of the neck. The bottle from Nigeria has yellow foil at the top of the neck, and covering the cap. As you can see from the zoomed in image below (taken at a slightly different angle), the Nigerian version on the right has the word “IMPORTED” on the main label.  Looking at the front of the bottle, those are the two easily discernible differences.


The labels on the reverse are another matter. There are far more differences, as you can see below. Once again you have Ireland on the left, Nigeria on the right.


The word “STOUT” appears after “Guinness Foreign Extra” on the label from Nigeria, but not on the other one. The bottles are slightly different sizes too (330ml from Ireland, 325ml from Nigeria). The lettering “CONTAINS BARLEY” is far larger on the Nigerian label than on the Irish label. The Nigerian label also contains the red circle with 18+ inside, which is absent from the other one.

There is also a full list of ingredients on the Nigerian bottle, showing that it contains: “Water, Sorghum, Malt Barley (Gluten), Roasted Barley (Gluten) and Hops”. The bottle brewed in Dublin does not, unfortunately, contain a full list of ingredients, but I suspect that it does not contain Sorghum. Perhaps that accounts for the slight aftertaste that I detect in the African brew. No matter, both versions are fine by me. If you’re partial to beer in general, and the dark stuff in particular, try a drop of Guinness Export, or “Guinness Foreign Extra Stout” to give it its full name. Armed with the information above, you should be able to tell, at a glance, whether it was brewed in Ireland or Nigeria. As things stand here in the UK, we won’t be able to enjoy a pint of the regular stuff in a bar anytime soon.





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