As an adjective, stout is an English word meaning brave and spirited. It conjures up images of noisy cobble stone pubs in historical villages with with larger than life barmaids serving strong men, a dark robust drink. Fortunately, today, Stout is a drink where today’s generation have transformed its image into something more palatable for both sexes. Experimenting with flavor and a new look, with what was once a working man’s drink, has transformed it into a craft brew fan’s favorite beverage.
Stout, made by using either roasted malt or roasted barley, hops, water and yeast, was first documented as a strong beer in 1677. When hearing the name, you may often hear the name Porter. What separates a Porter from a Stout is still argued about within the beer connoisseur community.
The word Porter is thought to have originated from 18th century London, where the drink was popular with street and river porters. Porters have a reputation for being full-bodied and brown in color, to cover up the cloudiness. In comparison, Stout is strong, dry, sometimes sweet and usually oatmeal based. Their history and characteristics are interwoven so much so that it’s still difficult to separate the two. Porters and Stouts take between 6 months to a year to brew and are often stored in substantial wooden casks to achieve the desired taste and color.
Stout has many variants from Milk, Dry Irish (Guinness), Imperial and Oatmeal. In recent times, the revolution of entrepreneurial garage beer and micro brew connoisseurs have promoted flavor combinations to spike their popularity. Why not try a chocolate with oyster Stout or a hot and spicy infused Stout? It’s even possible for Red Bull fans to consider drinking a Stout containing bull testicle extract! The list of new and exciting Stouts is growing each year. Here are just a few favorites.
Dirty Frank Stout
River’s Edge Brewing Co. Milford, Michigan
Vol: 16 oz
Purchase: Find your local distributor @ beermenus.com
Along the banks of the Huron River in the picturesque village of Milford, Michigan, you will stumble across a little gem of a brewing company aptly named River’s Edge Brewing Co. It was founded by three local families: the Ouvry’s, the Last’s, and the Wiltse’, whilst enjoying some of their home brewed beer on one of their ‘hang out nights’. The idea of REBC was developed when the couples wanted to spread their idea of happiness with friends and neighbors. This created a relaxing atmosphere with home style brews and absolutely no TVs to encourage a back to basics conversational vibe.
Dirty Frank Stout, gold winner of the Great American Beer Festival 2016, has placed them on the Craft Ales Map. Its bottle features a tabby cat splashed on the front label, but don’t be fooled. This is not your back alley pussy garbage kind of a drink, it’s more your stout lion with a frothy mane kind of a beverage.
Let the rich seductive color draw you in and the smoky, spicy rye nose, fill your senses. The taste is complex, closely followed by spiced infused chocolate with smooth hints of molasses. The smoky malt taste is strong but not overbearing as juxtaposed with a sweet undertone. Dirty Frank manages to combine a dry finish with a smooth aftertaste, creating a quality Stout that you must consume.
Sless Oatmeal Stout
Iron Springs Pub and Brewery, Fairfax, California
VOL: 22 oz
Purchase: Iron Springs Pub and Brewery (even better on draft) or Whole Foods Market
‘Saving lives, one beer at a time’, is the company’s slogan and after tasting their award winning Stout, you can see that this is not far from the truth. Situated in Fairfax, California, Iron Springs Pub and Brewery not only prides themselves on winning numerous awards, like 2008 and 2014 World Beer Cup Gold, but they also wave the flag for being a green certified company. They purposely limit the impact on the earth’s natural resources as they brew their beers.
Founders Mike and Anne Altman are proud of their community and the free spirit it evokes. They are active within the local area and this reflects in their brewery, with neighbors and friends enjoying its casual laid back atmosphere. Sless Oatmeal Stout, named after a good friend who happens to be a great pedal steel guitar player, is produced in batches of only ten barrels, using the best quality ingredients sourced worldwide.
Dark, rich and slightly thick in consistency with a tan foamy vailed froth, hints at the decadence to come. The nose is filled with coffee beans roasting by a bay of rich chocolate, with a full bodied oaky malt. The taste is sumptuous without being overpowering, with a velvety texture, smooth umbrella of oats and just enough carbonation to complement its fullness. The aftertaste is agreeable with just enough sweet and smooth malt to feel content. Just like the pedal steel player, this Stout’s layering of flavors all work in harmony to produce an interesting, yet seamless tune.
Coronado Brewing Company
VOl: 650 ml
Purchase: – Visit Coronado Brewing directly or visit their website for a distributers list. https://coronadobrewing.com/distributor-list-usa/
Brothers Ron and Rick Chapman established their dream in 1996 on Coronado Island, California. With a wealth of knowledge and experience in the brewing industry, the brothers were off to a convincing start. Their company slogan ‘Stay Coastal’, defines the brand’s attitude as laid back, maritime and friendly. With their local coastal spirit, award winning brews and good business sense, they have successfully distributed not only in the USA but internationally too.
Imperial Blue Bridge Coffee Stout amplifies the beach theme with its bottle design. The aqua and white writing with a mermaid carrying glasses, of what one can only assume is Stout, immediately gives it a seaside vibe.
The stout is cola colored with a dense foam head, followed by a nose which subtly introduces coffee, latte notes with a fresh yet spicy finish. On first taste coffee, roasted caramel, barley, and licorice closely follow the flavor of a smooth malt chocolate. The aftertaste is pleasant and earthy, leaving you with the lightness of a summer, coastal breeze.
Imperial Blue Bridge coffee stout is a perfect mid afternoon delight! Why not be a little cheeky and drink alongside a chocolate éclair. This Stout is also perfect to round off a meal, with its digestive tones. It neutralizes the pallet and satisfies your taste buds.
Founders Brewery Co. Grand Rapids, Michigan
ABV: 11.6 %
Vol: 12 oz
Purchase: Direct from the Brewery or visit https://www.beermenus.com/beers/4067-founders-backwoods-bastard
Mike Stevens and Dave Engbers quit their day jobs, took out a loan and followed their dream for crafting and producing top notch flavorful ales. Using a simple, yet effective business plan, ‘no brewing for the masses’, they craft for beer lovers, which enables their dream to remain successful.
Backwoods Bastards label has an etching of an old man on the bottle, possibly a woodcutter, with a long beard carrying an axe. Could this possibly be a man’s drink for the earthy hands-on kind of guy? It certainly gives that impression. Founders Brewery, was one of the first pioneers in the US to use oak bourbon barrels in the aging process, making this Stout unique in flavor and finish. The nose is a balance of a single Malt Scotch, which is smoky, with a suggestion of caramel. Its taste resembles a toasty malt vanilla with toffee and a small side of blackberry. It’s shockingly smooth considering its high alcohol content. Perhaps the woodcutter on the front of the bottle is not a complete bastard, but in fact a nice old man who has finished a day’s grafting and fancies a quality beverage whilst pensively reflecting.
This is a stout which is not only tantalizing on one’s taste buds, but it also challenges your preconceptions of what you may expect from a Stout. It is strong without being aggressive, smooth without being feeble. If you are a lover of craft brews and expect high quality, you will not be dissatisfied with Backwoods Bastard.
Vol: 750 ml bottle
Purchase: Buy.rogue.com $13.99
Labelling themselves as ‘a small revolution for handcrafted Ales, Porters and Stouts’, Rogue are an Oregon based brewery that has produced some of the best American Stouts around. With two pubs and a farm, this epitomizes the concept of a farm to glass brewery. Their business model of ‘Rogue Rules,’ has helped build a solid ideal and concept into their vision of great tasting brews. Their first mission being, ‘To brew the finest varietal ales and spirits in the world’ with an uncompromising devotion to ‘Quality and the Art of Brewing’. Not only do the Rogues make fantastic beers, they are not afraid to push the boundaries of taste. This is definitely true when it comes to their Sriracha Stout.
The Stout is, as the name suggests, made with the addition of Sriracha hot chili sauce. The bottle on first appearance is a mirror image of the famous sauce. However, upon further examination, the Rogue-esque signature style is clear. It includes the bold, confident ROGUE name, with its signature star.
On first pour, this Stout is thick but not overly heavy, with a mocha colored froth at the top. The nose is full of roasted malts, followed by coffee, chocolate and a hint of pepper, which is not a big surprise. The taste develops as you sip this beverage, the coffee/malt combo flirt on a bed of raisin covered chocolates and gingerly await the chili kick which comes in at the end. The chili is rich but not dominating and leaves you with a slight, yet sadistically enjoyable after burn. Rather like a small slap in the face followed by a smooth kiss, this is definitely a tantalizing finish.
Critics may be a little confused expecting more of a chili sauce punch but this would be senseless. If you want chili sauce, then go drink a bottle.
The Rogues have nailed this experiment. Not only do they have a solid base Stout with the perfect amount of malt, coffee and chocolate, they have also managed to add a spicy heat without your head blowing off or one’s ass blowing a hole through one’s seat. If your taste buds seek a friend for hot dogs, wings, or pizza, then Rogue Sriracha Hot Stout is for you.