Welcome to the 2nd Into The Pint Glass link-up with me and Katie from The Hungry Goat!! Last time we explored pilsners, this time we are taking a complete 180 and going to the dark side by diving into stouts.
To be honest stouts are not my go to beer style. I’m really like my alcohol beverages, for the most part, to be lighter/drier and as general rule stouts are not light/dry. Actually, they need a bit of sweetness and/or heaviness to balance out the roasty characteristics. I do however find stouts to offer some very interesting flavor profiles. I enjoy stouts on cold nights as they usually feel a bit warming. I also tend to enjoy them after a meal or well before, not during. I think of stouts as more of an after dinner drink, like a port or bourbon (especially the two I tried). Shall we learn a little more about stouts …
A stout is a type of English ale. Back in the 1700s when porters were so popular, people would go out to the pubs after their rough gig of chimney sweeping and need a stiff black beer. They would order a Stout Porter, which was a fuller, creamier, darker porter. The stout was always the stronger beer. At the same time, a black malt was being produced that would soon be used to shape the building blocks of what makes today’s modern stout beer.
Stouts can be broken up into five main sub-styles*:
Dry Stout is (obviously) dry with a moderate to high roasted malt and hop bitterness. It is very full bodied and creamy and sometimes has a coffee-like finish. It is not sweet, nor does it have notes of coffee or chocolate. Guinness is the most popular dry stout (and has a super cool story**).
Sweet Stout is also known as a Milk Stout. Lactose, or milk sugar, is generally added to give it a sweetness. Dark roasted malts add coffee and chocolate flavors in this creamy and medium to full-bodied beer. Left Handed Milk Stout is a popular sweet stout.
Oatmeal Stout is made of 5 to 15% oatmeal. Unlike the sweet stout, the oatmeal is going to rely on the oats for a full body and complexity to make it less sweet. Light use of oatmeal will allow for a silkiness of body and richness in flavor where as a heavy use in oatmeal will have an intense flavor and an oily mouthfeel.
Imperial Stout is said to have originally been brewed for Catherine the Great. There is a mix of roasty, fruity and bittersweet with a strong alcohol presence. These will be the highest in alcohol and the most complex and intense.
American-Style Stout is all about the hops. They should still contain characteristic of the other sub-styles, such as roasted and malty with chocolate or coffee tones but bolder roasted malt flavors and hopping.
*Others include Chocolate Stouts, Cherry Stouts, Oyster Stouts and Coffee Stouts
–Big thanks to Katie for providing that awesome stout knowledge! Make sure to check out her post, as she is a proclaimed stout lover, and even had the real stuff straight from the mother-land, ah Guinness!
I went for the big boys, those strong imperial stouts on this tasting! Go big or go home 🙂 To be honest I have had both of these prior on draft and we just happened to have the bottle versions already at home, so I knew what I was getting. While some beers do not age well, imperial stouts are great cellaring beer. A nice bourbon barrel aged stout would make a great gift for a beer lover in your life, as they are usually limited edition varieties. Let’s get to tasting…
Port Brewing Older Viscosity, San Diego, CA
Is an imperial bourbon barrel aged stout, meaning they brew the beer and then put it into used bourbon barrels and store it (or age it) for months or years. This one is aged at least 9 months according to their website in Heaven Hill barrels. They actually have a very interesting video on their site describing this beer, just click on the beer name up top to see it. The is a big beer coming in at an ABV (alcohol by volume) of 12%. This at the top range of ABV for beers, the strongest I’ve ever tried is 15%. And you can tell it is boozy from the smell and taste. I’ve really enjoyed the beers I’ve tried from Port Brewing. They tend to keep their beers well balanced and not too sweet.
Color: Very dark, more black than brown with a tan head. This beer has legs, and you can see that it is a heavier beer by the way it clings to the glass. I tried to capture a picture of it (not the easiest to do).
Smell: Bourbon in the smell, along with a hint of alcohol fumes. A bit of a coffee or roasty smell is also present. You can tell this one is a boozier.
Taste: Roasty in the front, dark, slightly bitter but not coffee, more of a very dark chocolate. The alcohol burn hits near the end, but smooths out to a warm finish. Mouthfeel is not super heavy, but it is a weightier beer. The bourbon/alcohol notes lightens up the overall mouthfeel. Sometimes people will mention mouthfeel is almost like you chew through the beer, I usually think of Guinness as one of those, it’s not heavy in that same sense. It’s more on the syrupy side in consistency.
Overall, nicely done beer. This is a single glass will do you kind of beer, and good for a cold snowy night, not that we have that here in San Diego, so maybe a cloudy windy one instead 🙂 I like it, but I prefer the next one, if I had to choose.
Mother Earth Autumn, Vista, CA
This imperial Russian stout is part of the Mother Earth four seasons series, where they release a limited edition beer each season. This one is also a bourbon barrel aged stout, and funny enough, it is brewed in the same brand (Heaven Hill) bourbon barrels; not something I knew until I was putting this post together. This one is 11.7% ABV, still a big beer, but does not have the boozy characteristics that the Older Viscosity demonstrated.
Color: Very dark, black in color. Very little head when poured, and what was there is cream in color. This beer is not nearly as syrupy/heavy as the Older Viscosity. I tried to do another picture for you, just for kicks, I’m not sure if you can tell the difference.
Smell: The smell is more oaky, with notes of vanilla and chocolate. It does not have the boozy smell that the Older Viscosity exhibited.
Taste: Notes of chocolate on the very front, blending to an oaky slightly bitter alcohol taste, finishing smooth and clean. This beer is extremely well balanced. It has a rounded but lighter mouth-feel compared to the Older Viscosity, with a bit more carbonation.
Really, really enjoy this beer. I find it easy drinking for a stout and could see how a few glasses might go down a little too easy 🙂 I’ve had quite a few bourbon barrel aged stouts in my day and this ranks in the top. One of my all time favorites is the Allagash Bourbon Barrel Black.
Make sure to link-up your adventures with stouts below!! Our next Into The Pint Glass on March 5th will be IPAs, which is one of my favorite styles!! Get your beers ready!
Stouts love em or hate em?
This link-up will stay open until the next one is opened on March 5th. So, you still have time to find a stout and link-up! Be sure to tag your drink of choice with #IntoThePintGlass.