I've been drinking beer, legally, for 21 years or so now, but I may have been known to break a law or two before that. I was the smart-ass kid who arrived at the party with a sixer of Pete's Wicked Ale or whichever Yuengling I could get my hands on. Unfortunately, all anybody wanted to drink was Natty Light or maybe Rolling Rock ponies if they were feeling especially sophisticated that night. Needless to say, I drank a lot of "craft beer" by myself for many years. Admittedly, I wasn't lighting the world on fire with the craftiness of my beers, but they were a far cry from the omnipresent "fizzy yellow" stuff I couldn't stand at even such a young age.
The college years brought on an appreciation for the frugality of Miller Lite. The finances simply didn't exist for anything else. As a college student in central Pennsylvania, everything I bought was by the case, typically warm & very cheap. It was a requirement. Legally and financially.
After my college years, I returned home to New Jersey and dove back into seeking out beers other than macro light lagers I suffered through at school...and there was some real suffering. It was also around this time that I started to appreciate stouts. The problem was that I had next to no success finding any craft stouts or porters near home. Almost all of my craft beer choices were IPAs or pale ales, when they could be found at all.
So...I turned to Guinness. Nay, I fell in love with Guinness. We had a s short, torrid affair in the mid-to-late 90s. It was all I drank for a good amount of time. I turned lots of macro-lager-drinking friends onto this "darker" alternative. This group of people included my girlfriend's father, who became as hypnotized by the stuff as I was.
Then, as quickly as it started, it was over. I was totally over it. I found it bland, uninspired and nearly tasteless. So I moved onto the, then more easily found, craft stouts that began to pop up on my local shelves, leaving behind so many of my Guinness-converted friends and family behind.
THIS is a big jump. Not one to be taken lightly, and as I've discovered, not one that can be taken by everybody.
If you're reading this, you likely realize the HUGE difference between craft stouts/porters and Guinness Stout. Huge. Did I mention there's a big difference? Flavor, aroma, mouthfeel, carbonation, ABV, etc., etc. Just about everything you like about Guinness Stout doesn't exist in the majority of today's craft stouts. I'm not implying that's a bad thing either. Each has its place.
As I made the conversion to a craft-beer-exclusive diet, I tried like crazy to convert others with me. I continue to do so with varying degrees of success (not for lack of trying), but there was one bothersome holdout, one that remains on the 'dark side' despite my best efforts. My girlfriend's father, to whom I introduced Guinness years earlier, still claims to be a stout lover, but has yet to enjoy a single craft beer stout I've brought him. He may be my father-in-law now, but that's the only thing that has changed over the years.
This begs the question, 'is he really a stout lover'? If he likes only one specific stout, I suggest he's really just a Guinness lover. Every time we go out he'll ask what stouts they have on tap and eventually just order a Guinness. It's hard for me to admit defeat. It's hard for me to give up on him. Should I break it to him that he's not really a stout lover, rather just a Guinness-man? I guess being a stout lover doesn't necessarily make you a stout lover. Clearly, not all stouts are created equal.