Heineken’s new stout: Its head is creamier than Guinness’s, but does it taste as good?

Head brewer PJ Tierney makes a lot of beer and cider. At the Heineken brewery in Cork he is responsible for Heineken, Coors, Orchard Thieves cider and a few other brews, as well as Murphy’s and Beamish, stouts dear to the hearts of all true Corkonians. So, why is Heineken releasing Island’s Edge, a third stout? “We wanted to expand the category, to rejuvenate it and offer the consumer a new style of stout.” Paula Conlon, marketing manager for stout at Heineken told me. “The market had no innovation and was really quite stagnant. We wanted to offer something different to consumers, to appeal to people who hadn’t considered stout before.” The branding is light and colourful and should stand apart from the traditional black and white of other stouts. 

 “We asked ourselves ‘what is it about stout that people find difficult’?” Tierney told me. “The feedback we got was they can drink one pint but not a second one, or they don’t like the bitter aftertaste, or it’s an acquired taste, or that they felt full afterwards.”

Aimed at the 18-35 year-old market, Island’s Edge certainly has a few unusual ingredients. Heineken spent two years, working with Kerry Foods, using tasting panels along the way, developing a quite different stout. It still has the core ingredients according to Tierney, those chocolate malts, the roasted coffee, but two ingredients were key to the more refreshing style of Ireland’s Edge – tea and basil.

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