An intra-company competition recently set six teams of Diageo Ireland staff (across a spread of non-brewing departments ranging from legal to HR) on a voyage of brewing discovery to come up with an innovative new stout or porter, culminating in a final to find one overall winner.
Six teams, six concepts and six different brews from which yours-truly, as one of four finalist judges, would crown one the overall winner. Each team had its own pair of brewers to lend support and advice throughout the process.
The winning brew will be brewed up in a larger batch for sale in the Storehouse with the proceeds going to Diageo’s Water of Life charity in Africa. So far, Diageo has instigated over 170 projects to help provide access to safe drinking water, improve sanitation and the associated infrastructure of communities in 16 African countries.
The packaging, marketing plans and target market for the prospective brew accompanied each team’s entry for the tasting – with some truly innovative ideas, a number of which we’d love to have seen come to commercial life on the Storehouse shelves.
For example there was Craic ‘n Stout, a brew made subtly sweet with a shot of squid’s ink (yes, squid’s ink) and then there was Guinness Town Porter & Country Stout, a two-bottle combo that let put the customer in charge, blending a bottle of Guinness Town Porter (a classic porter, light brown in colour with a hop aroma) with a bottle of Guinness Country Stout (a deep, rich and characterful dark beer) until the customer achieved their own personal balance for their own particular flavour experience.
But the overall winners of the hand-crafted trophy, a half-litre miniature of a real brewing vessel, were the team behind Night Porter.
Night Porter honours those who work throughout the night in a variety of capacities and consists of a velvety porter enhanced with subtle notes of cocoa and an exotic hint of vanilla (it says here…).
The sheer depth of work put into each of the entries deserves a place of its own on the shelves but there can only be one winner and that accolade goes to the team behind Night Porter: Fergal Murray, Orla Brandon, Niall Molloy, Becky Crawley, Mary Gately, Feodora Heavey, Alan Dempsey and guest team member Niall Toner of the Sunday Times.