Guinness vs Murphy’s: Taste, Calories & More Compared

Written By Tony

I'm Tony and I created High Stool Beer, a personal beer-lovers blog that covers everything from home beer keg machine reviews to thoughts on the best beers worldwide. From my own experience and tests, my aim is to help beer lovers find the perfect home beer keg machine and enjoy their favourite brews at home.

July 27, 2023

In this post, we compare Guinness vs Murphy’s, two names that often come to mind in the world of Irish stouts. As iconic stalwarts of the beer scene, these two brews have garnered loyal followings and sparked endless debates among stout enthusiasts. Delving deeper into these two Irish staples, we’ll explore their histories, brewing processes and the key differences that set them apart.

Originally hailing from Dublin, Guinness has had a long-standing reputation as the quintessential Irish stout. On the other hand, Murphy’s, with its roots in Cork, offers beer lovers a taste of a slightly different stout that’s graced pubs and homes since the 19th century. Both brands boast traditional brewing methods and ingredients, but their nuanced variations lead to distinct appearances, aromas, and flavour profiles.

As stout connoisseurs seek to refine their palates and expand their knowledge, examining the unique characteristics of these two acclaimed Irish stouts offers an invaluable lesson in beer appreciation. By examining these iconic beverages, drinkers can better understand what sets Guinness and Murphy’s apart and, perhaps, discover a new preference for one over the other.

Key Takeaways

  • Guinness and Murphy’s are two iconic Irish stouts with distinct histories and brewing processes.
  • Variations in brewing lead to differing appearances, aromas, and flavour profiles between the two stouts.
  • Exploring these differences allows beer enthusiasts to refine their palates and deepen their appreciation of Irish stouts.
  • Getting pints of Murphys in a pub is often limited to County Cork in Ireland and surrounding areas.

History and Origins

Guinness vs Murphy's

Two names stand out in the history of Irish stouts: Guinness and Murphy’s. Both of these stouts have their origins in Ireland, with Guinness being brewed in Dublin and Murphy’s having its roots in Cork. As iconic beverages, they have come to represent the rich tradition of Irish brewing.

Guinness was founded by Arthur Guinness in 1759 when he signed a 9,000-year lease on St. James’s Gate Brewery in Dublin. Throughout its history, Guinness has experienced remarkable growth and popularity and is now recognised as one of the most famous beers in the world. The Guinness Storehouse, a popular tourist attraction in Dublin, illustrates the storied history and evolution of the brand.

In comparison, Murphy’s Irish Stout was first brewed in 1856 by James J. Murphy in Cork. Initially a local beer, its reach was expanded when Heineken acquired the brewery in 1983. This acquisition led to increased distribution and international exposure, introducing Murphy’s to a worldwide audience. Today, Murphy’s is considered a staple of the Irish brewing scene.

Several factors distinguish these two stouts, including their histories, flavour profiles, and regional contexts. The Dublin origins of Guinness, for instance, infuse the brand with that city’s unique character, while Murphy’s Cork roots give it a distinct identity within the diverse landscape of Irish beers.


Brewing Process

The brewing processes of Guinness and Murphy’s Irish Stout share some similarities, but key differences contribute to their unique flavour profiles. Both stouts are brewed using barley, roasted barley, yeast and water, but the way these ingredients are prepared and the fermentation techniques employed set them apart.

Guinness takes pride in using a specific type of roasted barley, which gives the beer its characteristic dark colour and slightly bitter taste. The barley is roasted at a high temperature until it reaches a rich, dark hue, imparting the beer a strong, roasted flavour. In contrast, Murphy’s Irish Stout utilises a combination of both roasted barley and roasted malt. Including roasted malt gives Murphy’s a mellower, sweeter taste compared to Guinness.

In terms of yeast character, Guinness employs a proprietary strain, which is believed to be vital in achieving its distinct flavour profile. This yeast strain has been carefully maintained over the years, and any new batches of yeast are cultivated from original samples to ensure consistency in flavour. On the other hand, Murphy’s Irish Stout uses a different yeast strain, which imparts its unique flavours and contributes to the overall milder taste when compared to Guinness.

Another important aspect of the brewing process is the fermentation procedure. Guinness and Murphy’s utilise nitrogen gas instead of carbon dioxide, resulting in a creamier texture and a smooth, velvety mouthfeel. The gas is introduced during the brewing process and when the beer is served through a tap or in cans via nitrogen-infused widgets. This technique is integral to achieving the iconic cascade and creamy head for which both stouts are well-known.

In summary, while sharing some similarities, the brewing process of Guinness and Murphy’s Irish Stout diverges in key aspects relating to the preparation of ingredients and the choice of yeast strains. Each beer has its unique method for maintaining its signature flavours, with Guinness focusing on its distinct roasted barley and proprietary yeast. Murphy’s blends roasted barley and roasted malt for a milder combination alongside its own choice of yeast.


Appearance and Aroma

Guinness vs Murphy's

Both Guinness and Murphy’s are well-known for their dark, almost black appearance, which can sometimes be mistaken for having a dark brown hue. The dark colour of these stouts results from the roasted barley used in their brewing process, giving them a visually striking presence.

One notable difference between the two stouts lies in their texture and consistency. Upon pouring, both Guinness and Murphy’s form a creamy, velvety head that enhances their visual appeal. However, some drinkers might find Murphy’s to be slightly darker in comparison, while others may not notice any significant difference.

As for the aroma, each beer carries its own unique scent profile. Guinness fans appreciate its balance of roasted barley, a faint roast, and a subtle touch of smoke. This combination creates a satisfying and inviting aroma characteristic of this popular Irish stout. In contrast, Murphy’s offers a more intense roasted smell, accompanied by hints of smoke and faint chocolate notes. This combination of aromas makes it a worthy competitor against Guinness.

In conclusion, the appearance and aroma of both Guinness and Murphy’s stouts play a crucial role in their overall charm and character. While they share some similarities in terms of their dark colour and creamy texture, each beer offers a distinct aroma profile that appeals to different preferences among stout enthusiasts.


Flavour Profile

When you compare Guinness vs Murphy’s Irish Stout, both offer unique flavour profiles that cater to different preferences.

Starting with Murphy’s Irish Stout, its flavours tend to lean towards sweetness and mildness. Known for its caramel and malt essence, it has a flavour which can be described as a distant relative of chocolate milk. However, the stout does exhibit some dark grain and smoky barley notes alongside faint chocolate and roast undertones, showcasing its dry stout character.

On the other hand, Guinness is considered more bitter and robust. It showcases more barley in its aroma complemented by a faint roast and smoke scent, distinguishing it from Murphy’s softer aroma. In terms of flavour, Guinness can be perceived as more complex, with a taste that hints at coffee, cocoa, smokiness, and even subtle fruitiness, as opposed to the straightforward sweetness of Murphy’s.

Despite their differences, both stouts are creamy and dark, giving them the classic Irish Stout look. The mouthfeel of these stouts is similarly notable, featuring a smooth and velvety texture contributing to their overall appeal.

In summary, the flavour profile of Murphy’s Irish Stout is characterised by its milder, sweeter taste with caramel and malt nuances. At the same time, Guinness offers a more bitter, robust experience with hints of coffee, cocoa, and smokiness. Each stout provides a distinct and enjoyable experience, catering to different palates and preferences.


Mouthfeel and Texture

Guinness vs Murphy's Irish Stout

Guinness is known for its thick and velvety mouthfeel, often called a “meal in a glass.” The nitrogen used in the brewing process forms extremely fine bubbles, resulting in a rich and creamy texture. Despite its thickness, the beer is fairly light-bodied, providing a good balance between substance and drinkability.

Murphy’s Irish Stout, on the other hand, is usually considered to be even smoother and creamier than Guinness. This can be attributed to its brewing process’s slightly higher nitrogen content. Despite this increased smoothness, the overall impression of Murphy’s remains a bit lighter-bodied, with an almost silky mouthfeel.

The level of carbonation in both stouts is relatively low, with nitrogen dominating the effervescence. The result is a gentle carbonation that complements the creaminess without detracting from the smoothness of the brew. This distinguishes them from other ales, which typically rely on higher carbonation levels for a sharper texture and taste.

The finish of both Guinness and Murphy’s is fairly dry, though some drinkers may find the aftertaste of Guinness more pronounced. This has led to a perception that Guinness has a “drier” finish than Murphy’s, even though both stouts share similar flavour profiles. The dry finish of these stouts is a characteristic of the style, often referred to as a “dry Irish stout,” which sets it apart from its sweeter counterparts.

In summary, Guinness and Murphy’s Irish Stout both offer a smooth, creamy, and slightly dry mouthfeel, with minor differences in texture and body due to their respective nitrogen levels and brewing processes. These subtleties are what make each stout enjoyable and distinguishable, allowing drinkers to choose based on personal preference.


Alcohol Content & Calories

In terms of alcohol content, Murphy’s Irish Stout typically has a slightly lower ABV (Alcohol by Volume) compared to Guinness. Murphy’s Irish Stout is produced by the Heineken International/Murphy’s Brewery in Cork, Ireland, while the Guinness Brewing Company/St brews Guinness. James’s Gate (Diageo) in Dublin, Ireland.

The ABV of Guinness Draught, one of the most widespread types of Guinness available, is around 4.0%. The ABV of Murphy’s Stout is also at 4%.

Both Guinness and Murphys Irish Stout are similar in calories and nutritional value. Both pints (568Ml) will have around 210 calories.


Nitro Widget Technology

Guinness vs Murphy's
Source: https://www.irishexaminer.com/news/arid-20226485.html

The Nitro Widget technology is vital in providing the signature creamy texture and thick head in stouts such as Guinness and Murphy’s. The widget, a small plastic device placed inside beer cans and bottles, contains pressurised nitrogen gas. When the container is opened, the nitrogen escapes, dissolving into the beer and creating a fine carbonation and creamy head that gives these stouts their distinctive mouthfeel and appearance.

Guinness pioneered this technology, having patented the original widget in Ireland to recreate the experience of drinking draught beer from a can or bottle. The success of the Guinness Draught in cans and bottles results from a consistent carbonation process and a perfect balance between carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitrogen. CO2 produces the fizziness in most beers, while nitrogen provides smaller, more delicate bubbles, endowing the beer with its unique texture.

Murphy’s, another renowned Irish stout, has also adopted the use of Nitro Widget technology in its packaging. This allows Murphy’s stout drinkers to enjoy a drinking experience similar to that of a freshly poured pint from a draught tap, replicating the smooth and creamy character in the draught version. Guinness and Murphy’s have managed to maintain their reputations for delivering a high-quality stout experience using Nitro Widget technology.

Guinness has stepped up their innovation even further with the release of their Nitro Surge Device. The Guinness Nitrosurge device is a tool that uses ultrasonic technology to break down the nitrogen in Guinness beer, creating the iconic two-part pour and putting the perfect pour in your hands for a beautiful Guinness, time after time.

It is a pipe-shaped piece of rechargeable marketing that helps fans of the Black Stuff pour a pint in their sitting room. Demand for such a device became evident during covid when most bars and restaurants were closed.

The Nitro Surge was released first in Ireland and had a very successful launch and was then released in the UK.


Guinness vs Murphy’s Conclusion

In comparing the taste and characteristics of Guinness vs Murphy’s, it becomes clear that while both are beloved Irish stouts, they have distinct differences in flavour and mouthfeel.

Guinness is known for its rich, bitter taste, with bold roasted barley notes. The slight fruity undertones in Guinness can be attributed to its unique yeast character, making it stand out among other stouts.

On the other hand, Murphy’s is recognised for its mild and sweeter flavour, with a smoother and creamier mouthfeel. This gentler profile appeals to some drinkers who find Guinness too strong or assertive.

In terms of brewing processes, the two stouts use different approaches but still manage to result in a creamy and dark appearance for both beers. While the nuances in the brewing process do not generally affect consumers’ preferences, it is interesting to note the different techniques employed by each brewery.

Despite their differences, both Guinness and Murphy’s hold a special place in the hearts of stout lovers. The choice between the two ultimately comes down to one’s personal taste preferences.

Those seeking a bolder, more intense flavour may prefer Guinness, while those wanting a milder, sweeter stout might opt for Murphy’s.

In the end, it is safe to say that Guinness and Murphy’s offer unique drinking experiences characterised by their distinct flavours and mouthfeel, making them both popular options amongst stout enthusiasts.

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