I love the sounds of Stout Chorals coming from the street corners. The stout pint decorations in the windows of shops and homes. “Merry Stout Day” being cheerfully said by every passerby on the sidewalk. Well, a guy can dream can’t he? I know that International Stout Day is simply made up as a great excuse to try the style. I am running with it and tasting a couple of stouts today, a style that I am absolutely enthralled with as beer drinker.
What defines a stout? The stout style is an offshoot of the porter with dark colors, rich and strong flavors, and higher alcohol. It is an English style that grew into popularity in the 18th century with the “stout porter”, meaning it possessed higher alcohol levels than traditional porters. This is why the line between porters and stouts can be somewhat blurry. Within the stout style, there are a number of subtly defined and nuanced stout styles.
- Dry Stout – Dark, roasted notes, and heavily hopped. The original stout porter style.
- Sweet Stout – Dark, sweet, full-bodied, includes the milk stouts.
- Oatmeal Stout – Full-bodied, roast, and malty. Seasonal variation of the stout style.
- Foreign Extra Stout – Black as the ace of spades, strong, and roasty. Intended for export to warmer climes during the days of the British Empire.
- American Stout – Very hoppy version of the foreign extra stout. Truly American, bigger is better.
- Russian Imperial Stout – Truly complex with sweetness, roasted notes, high alcohol, and fruitiness. Brewed by the English for export to the Czarist courts of Russia. The style is basically a black barleywine. American and English Imperial Stouts are derived from this style.
Guinness is the stout that almost everyone has drank before. Guinness Draught Stout was originally brewed in the Dublin brewery of Arthur Guinness in 1778. It is uniquely creamy due to being served using nitrogen, rather than traditional carbon dioxide. Let’s dispel that ridiculous “pork chop in a glass” myth. Guinness is, in fact, rather low calorie, reveling some Light lagers (you know who they are).
Favorite Stouts (lately and in no particular order)
- Deschutes Abyss
- Eel River Raven’s Eye
- Rogue Chocolate Stout
- Glacier Brewing Slurry Bomber Stout
Now go out today, after the work is done, and grab a pint of inky black stout goodness.
“Let us sing our own treasures, Old England’s good cheer, to the profits and pleasures of stout British beer.
Your wine tippling, dram sipping fellows retreat, but your beer drinking Britons can never be beat.
The French with their vineyards and meager pale ale, they drink from the squeezing of half ripe fruit.
But we, who have hop-yards to mellow our ale, are rosy and plump and have freedom to boot.”
– English drinking song, circa 1757