Defining The Craft is a brief look at different beer styles that will help you learn whether they’re right for you. Ultimately, words can’t truly turn you on to a solid craft beer. You have to smell, taste, and savor each sip to truly discover if it’s one you’ll come back to in the future. But the background info obtained in this post won’t hurt anything either.
What is a Stout?
A Stout is a dark beer made using roasted malt or roasted barley, hops, water and yeast. Stouts were traditionally the generic term for the strongest or stoutest porters, typically 7% or 8% alcohol by volume (ABV), produced by a brewery.
As craft beer has evolved, so has the diversity behind stouts. The American Stout, which was derived and inspired by English and Irish Stouts, has redefined beer flavor, aroma, and overall enjoyment forever more thanks to breweries nationwide pushing the envelope and combining the basic elements of stouts with more of your palate’s favorites. Brewers have broken the molds of originality by highly hopping their brews, as well as adding items such as coffee and/or chocolate to complement the roasted flavors produced from the stout’s natural ingredients. Some stouts are even aged in Bourbon or whiskey barrels. Overall, the hop bitterness of a stout is wide, but most you come across are well balanced.
Typically, Guinness is the first beer that comes to mind when the subject of stouts comes up. However, with the innovation of the American stouts mentioned above, as well as other traditional stout designations still going strong, the stout family is rich with variety and diversity.
Irish, Dry, and Irish Dry Stouts represent the staple of the style, presenting a pitch black appearance with a thick, long lasting head on top of the glass. The aromas of coffee, barley, and chocolate are all present, accompanied by a rich and dry flavor. This is the category where typical stouts like Guinness and Murphy’s Stout live.
Another popular branch of the family is the Sweet Stout. Some of the beers under this flag resemble dry stouts with a sweeter element in play, while others are like sticking your face into a box of Krispy Kremes. Sweet Stouts are also known as milk or cream stouts because lactose, a sugar that beer yeast cannot process, is the sugar used to give beer its sweetness. In fact, milk stouts once claimed to be nutritious and produced ads in the early 1900s that stated “Ideal for nursing mothers, for the healthy, for the invalid and for the worker!” Tap into a Southern Tier 2XStout for a prime milk stout light up your palate!
An Oatmeal Stout is a bit sweeter than dry, but not as sweet as a milk. Oatmeal is added during the brewing process and produces a long lasting head and a smooth mouthfeel. These elements partially eliminate some of the sharper flavors found in a stout, which translates to Oatmeal stouts being a tremendous introductory beer as you begin transitioning your palate. Some popular brands to try include Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout and Troegs Java Head Stout.
Stouts are perfect cold weather beers. There’s something about that thick, rich, balanced flavor in the midst of a stiff cold front that enhances the beer drinking experience and makes the consumption all the more enjoyable. Next time you look outside and get angry about the snow, let one of the many offerings from the stout family keep you warm and roasty on the inside.