Tasting: June 23, 2012
John Smith’s Extra Smooth
Guinness developed what they called the “draught can”. It’s a system that utilizes liquid nitrogen and a “widget”. I’ll try to explain the process. These cans are pressurized with liquid nitrogen and it vaporizes and expands once the can is sealed. The process pushes out the oxygen and pushes both nitrogen and beer into a small hole in the widget. When the can is opened the pressure forces the gas and the beer from the widget. The presence of this liquid nitrogen allows smaller bubbles which create a creamy and cascading head. It really is brilliant and my experience is that it really replicates a lot of the pub experience (minus the locals). I am surprised that with all the English-style offerings here in the US, that we haven’t seen more attempts to utilize the widget.
A can of John Smith’s Extra Smooth was a surprising find at the Wine & Beverage Depot in Totowa. John Smith’s Bitter was one of my pub favorites (along with Whitbread) and I have never seen one in the United States. It didn’t take me long to put two and two together. This is brewed by Caledonian Brewing, which is owned by Heineken. Heineken has done a remarkable job promoting another Caledonian product — Newcastle Brown Ale. I can’t say if this will live up to my memory – but there’s only one way to find out.
The visual image of the cascading head is a thing of beauty. I can’t help but get my face up close to watch the reaction of the nitrogen. This beer’s head is truly like someone topped it with whipped cream. That creaminess and lack of fizzy carbonation are my first impression. The flavor of the beer is quite muted against the creaminess. Has the signature British “flintiness” as I call it along with some caramel. Only slightly bitter here. Balanced, but not really not much depth of flavor at all. An okay beer. Quick ABV check, 3.8% weak. I’ll still cling to my fond memories in the pub, but for this experience, 80 points.