February is a great month. There is Groundhog Day for summer lovers, followed by the Super bowl, and don’t forget the infamous Valentine's Day. I think the best thing about February, is the romance I feel with stout month. An entire month dedicated to one of the most beautiful beer styles. Standing stout | celebrating stouts in february.
Stouts don’t always have the best reputation. For someone who has always drank light beer, the thought of drinking something dark as night can be a little intimidating because it resembles “motor oil”, or because its dark appearance automatically makes them think that a beer is “too strong”.
Take Guinness Draught for instance. Its delicious roasty, chocolaty flavor is actually lower in alcohol than a Budweiser. Looks can be very deceiving with stouts, and that’s why they are one of my favorite styles.
What makes it a stout anyway? Stouts are typically made with roasted malt or roasted barley. They originated in the 1700’s as a variation of the porter. Now, with so many stouts styles and creative brewers, the combinations are endless.
• Dry Stout/ Dry Irish Stout- This style has dry roast flavors with a lot of coffee notes, and/or chocolate flavors. It is typically very dark in color, and medium body, but flavors will vary on the recipe. Examples; Guinness Draught, Murphy’s Stout
• Milk Stout /Sweet Stout- This beer has a sweeter flavor, with a great mouthfeel, and is smoother than silk, due to the lactose (milk sugar) that is added during the brewing process. This style is great for beer floats (yes, it’s a thing). Examples; Lefthand Milk Stout, Cigar City Café con Leche Stout
• Oatmeal Stout- Beer for breakfast? Sure! Oats are added during the brewing process to give it a fuller mouthfeel and slightly increase sweetness, resulting in a very drinkable beer. Examples; Upslope Oatmeal Stout, Rogue Shakespeare Oatmeal Stout
• Russian Imperial Stout Imperial Stout- Grab a snifter glass and a chair, this one is a sipper! With an ABV of at least 8%, these beers are packed with incredibly complex flavors such as coffee, black currant, vanilla, and even brown sugar. The body is usually very heavy, making them perfect for a slow drinking, cigar-smoking afternoon. The IBU’s in Russian Imperial Stouts are usually high in order to balance the flavor. Try this style barrel aged! Examples; Great Divide Yeti Imperial Stout, Oskar Blues Ten Fidy
• Foreign Stout Extra Stout /Tropical Stout- This style is a great combination between sweet and robust. Depending on the beer, it can range from very a sweet, rum-like beer, to a dryer, more robust one. It originated a similar way the IPA did. It was originally brewed with more hops and was higher in alcohol in order to survive long trips. It is often brewed with Lager yeast. Examples; Guinness Foreign Extra Stout, Flying Dog Tropical Stout
• Oyster Stout (Love Stout)-Yes, like the kind you shuck. This beer was developed in the twentieth century by English brewers, since pub goers were already pairing fresh oysters with their beer. It is brewed with whole oysters or oyster shells, and can be hard to find despite it being a great flavor combination. You can always make an oyster shooter by adding raw oysters in your stout, and gift it to your sweetheart on Valentine’s Day. What a way to get the mood going! Examples; Flying Dog Pearl Necklace Oyster Stout
• American Stout-We need our own style to match our creativity! This style is all over the place with unique characteristics that depend mostly on the brewer. Sometimes a strong coffee presence and citrus and pine aromas are detected if the beer was brewed with American hops. Examples; Wynkoop Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout, Avery Out of Bounds Stout
Stout combinations are endless, and definitely worth exploring. Next time you find yourself staring at the endless rows of beer at the liquor store, step outside the box and give one of these dark beauties a try.
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