It’s officially that time of year again when stouts are all the craze.
You look at your social feed and every brewery is talking about their latest stout. They might even have some variants of the beer and I’d bet money there’s a barrel-aged version. These beers are traditional for this time of year. They are almost synonymous with the changing of the seasons as we move towards the colder months. It’s finally time to grab a stout and get cozy!
For some, a stout is something they can grab any time of year. For many others though, me included, they’re hard to imbibe in the warmer months. They feel heavy and some of the higher ABVs actually upset your stomach. In general, stouts become widely accepted around late October/Early November. Teasers start popping up around mid October, then by Halloween, breweries are releasing what they’ve been working on for months (sometimes even years). These beers are generally smaller batches, thus higher in rarity. Stouts are also some of the highest rated beers in the world due to the complexity of their flavor profiles and the beers ability to virtually soak up anything you throw at it. According to Beer Advocate, 4 of the top 5 beers in the world are stouts (#1-4 are stouts. Number 5 is a NE IPA) with Kentucky Brunch Brand Stout (KBBS) from Toppling Goliath Brewing Company leading the pack!
Due to the rarity of the beers though, your wallets might be hurting after purchase! Some stouts can be expensive while some others can be pretty reasonable. Depending on what the brewery did to the beer, however, you might be shelling out quite a bit for the latest triple-barrel-aged-chocolate-coffee-russian-imperial-stout. As an exaggerated, but still real, example take that KBBS. That beer costs $100 per 12 ounces! Others on the top list though don’t reach that high and their rarity isn’t so out of reach. Fundamental Observation, Number 9, by Bottle Logic Brewing is actually being cranked out in such large batches that it actually hits distribution in SoCal.
Types of Stouts
What is a stout exactly, and which would I prefer? Well, lets try to clear that up a bit. Stout is a variation of a Porter. It is, in general, a “stronger” porter (get it stout=strong). These beers have variations all their own however, so we aren’t quite done here yet.
First up, an Imperial Stout.
Imperial Stouts are, oddly enough, strong dark beers. It’s ABV is generally above 9% but there are no flavor profile requirements.
Milk Stout/Pastry Stout
SWEETNESS is what you generally get from this beer. It’s one of the most popular in the world in the US and UK. Milk Stouts use the sugars in milk (Lactose) to tone down any bitterness or roasty characteristics and to sweeten the brew. Pastry Stouts use the same process but their flavors are generally pointed more towards actual pastries/cakes, like a cinnamon roll pastry stout or a German chocolate cake pastry stout, for example.
This stout variation is pretty literal. You add oats during the brewing process. This can add some bitterness or a vinegar or dry flavor (Astringency). From my own experience, I think that oatmeal stouts can be thicker/creamier than most other stout styles too.
A dry stout is more of what a true stout without any adjuncts would be. Removing the lactose sweetness, oats and barrel-aging, you’re left with the raw ingredients necessary to create a stout. Many people know this as an Irish stout as well. A Guinness is essentially the definition of this variant.
Stout Drinkers, Your Time Is Now
If you’re a craft beer fan, and especially a stout fan, this is your time of year. Stouts are coming out in droves and breweries are putting their skills on display. Head on down to your local craft beer spot. I bet they’re getting new and crazy stouts in all the time and if you don’t know what to get, I bet they could easily recommend you something.
Until next time, Cheers