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First Posted: 1/2/2013

Beer style: Stout

Brief history: Stout, which means strong black beer, dates back to around 1630. Stouts and porters and very similar in style, and stouts are often referred to as the offspring of porters. The most famous stout, which is known by one name around the world, Guinness, was actually created to avoid paying taxes. Guinness was created using roasted barley rather than roasted malt; this was because roasted malt was taxed and roasted barley was not. Little did they know that the distinct, sharp, coffee-like aroma would become so famous, all because of a tax dodge!

Variations: Dry Stout (Irish Stout), Milk/Sweet Stout, Oatmeal Stout, Imperial Stout, Russian Imperial Stout

Nose: This varies by style of stout. However, all will have scents of roasted malts and mild chocolate. Imperial style stouts, though, will have a more pronounced chocolate scent and also have scents of coffee as well. Additionally, a fragrance of caramel may be picked up, and, depending on the beer, notes of hop aroma may come through too. However, with the wide range of ingredients used in stouts, many different scents can be picked up, ranging from coffee, vanilla, milk, bourbon, whiskey, and malty sweetness. The American craft beer scene has really taken this style as its own, so the ingredients are endless.

Body: The body of all stouts is thicker than a standard lager or ale. All stouts have a full, creamy texture with very little carbonation and a thick head at the pour that will slowly dissipate into the beer. This is also the perfect beer to leave behind those sexy beer mustaches.

Appearance: Stouts are always dark in color, typically black, and sometimes a dark brown with very little ability for light to penetrate through. As you pour a stout, the head will range from beige to brown in color, and the head will be either fluffy and smooth in appearance (think of Guinness) or very full and cloud-like.

Taste: The taste of stout will vary by style, but can range from dry to very sweet. Stouts all have strong tastes of roasted malt, bitter chocolate, hints of caramel, and slight coffee-like aftertaste.

Food pairing: Traditional dry stouts (Guinness, Murphy’s) are an absolute perfect match with seafood. Whether it be traditional fish and chips, oysters, or clams, dry stouts just blend perfectly with seafood. The sweeter stouts (Imperial, Milk, and Oatmeal) are absolutely perfect with desserts of all kinds. Sweet stouts are perfectly at home with any chocolate dish due to the strong presence of chocolate and sweetness. These attributes make it a great match for chocolate cake. If you remember one thing, remember this – stouts are a perfect match for chocolate desserts! Another great idea for imperial stouts is a nice beer float with a scoop of your favorite ice cream. Thank me later!

Recommendations: Stout is a style that has a wide range of variations, so any recommendation needs to be based upon exposure to the style. So what I have done is broken my recommendations down into categories: novice (new to the style), experienced (had a few different stouts), and expert (you could have written this article).

Novice: Guinness, Magic Hat: Heart of Darkness, Yards: Love Stout, Left Hand: Milk Stout

Experienced: Samuel Smith: Oatmeal Stout, Rogue: Double Chocolate Stout, Brooklyn: Black Chocolate Stout, Founders: Breakfast Stout

Expert: Dogfish Head: World Wide Stout, Lost Abbey: Serpent’s Stout, AleSmith: Speedway Stout, Founders: KBS (Kentucky Breakfast Stout)

Remember, always enjoy responsibly! Cheers!