Let's face it, compared to real (ie living) beer, any pasteurised and pressurised beer - whether Guinness or otherwise - is just a pale (or dark ) imitation. If anyone ever sees Dwan's beers around in the UK or elsewhere (I guess the Wenlock might be a good place), try them. Now their An Dubhain (The Black One); that's a proper stout.
Packaged beer is Mouton-Cadet to real beer's Mouton-Rothschild.
god, FINALLY, adam, thank you
i'm an american who grew up drinking cold pale american lagers, and drinking real ale in the uk saved my life, truly.
there have been lots of discussions, some heated, about relativism and food, and in the case of beer, i can't agree that it comes down to preference. my sister tried to argue that with me once, "Look," she said, "Some people really like Budweiser better." maybe they like it better, but that doesn't make it better. last summer i was pleased to discover that the Queen's Larder in Bloomsbury had Bass REAL ALE on tap--my husband and i stopped in almost every afternoon for a half just because it was so damn good--the unpasteurized bass was thicker, sweeter, rounder on the tongue--and of course served at room temp, unlike Bass at home.
i'm not sure about the whole guinness thing. extra cold is extra cold, and it's not my preference. as for difference in the taste, i notice variation from one pub in ireland to another within a few miles range. the cleanliness of the lines and turnover are always a consideration. a good pint of guinness is cool, thick, smooth, more sweet than hopped, with a bit of a tingly finish.
reggie, you sound like you enjoy your beer, and i am willing to bet you that your life could be transformed by a pub crawl through the right pubs with the right people!