Expanding Your Beer Palate: Tasty Stouts
As I talked about in my essay on the wonders of gin, I made a reference to how well it goes with Guinness. That’s something that’s very important to me and I wanted to share some stout information with you, the reader, because stout beers are delicious and oh so fun to drink. So, let’s start with the grand daddy of them all.
The stout to which all others are compared, Guinness is a lovely beer. However, I would understand if you don’t like it. The version we get in the United States is not as creamy and delicious as that you would find in Ireland. Once you have
a pint across the pond, you understand the people that rave over this beer, like me. Then, those memories of perfect pints all come flooding back to you each time you order another wherever you are.
What I consider the red headed stepchild of stouts, Murphy’s is not a bad selection if you don’t have Guinness available. I would bet that you could even find people that prefer Murphy’s to Guinness. I am not one of them, but I bet they do exist, just like leprechauns.
Like other essays I’ve written on beers, I like to go to the Great American Beer Festival to find other stouts to try when Guinness is not available. If you’re in Washington, the Imperial Oatmeal Stout of Boundary Bay Brewing Co. took a third place at last year’s beer festival. Maybe another third place finisher, Goose Island’s Bourbon County Brand Stout would interest you as it is described as “a great cigar beer.” With 13% alcohol content, it’s also a great falling down drunk beer and it’s available in a lot of places. Then again, you can find an American take on the Irish stouts above just outside of St. Louis at the Augusta Brewing Company and their gold medal winning Hyde Park Stout. For people on the east coast, there’s the silver medalist Whiteface Stout from the Great Adirondack Brewing Co. Basically, any local brewery will generally have a stout for you to try. They can be strong and high in alcohol, like Bourbon County above or more like Guinness that only has an alcohol content of around 4%. You may not think that you like the darker beers, but it could be that you haven’t tried the right one. Some places give samples, so when you ask for one, give a stout a whirl.
I also felt I should give a little time to the stouts that go beyond what we expect from a beer and start to add different flavors. When you are talking stouts, the two most popular ones are coffee and chocolate. There’s a whole category devoted to coffee flavored beer at the Great American Beer Festival and you can find the bronze winner at Twisted Pine Brewing Company in Boulder, CO. On the chocolate side, Rouge Ales has the simply named Chocolate Stout and there is also Young’s Double Chocolate Stout, which probably has to taste twice as good.
It could be that stouts are an acquired taste and you have to go to Ireland and immerse yourself there in the bottom of several pints to find it. However, I think you can find it just as easily at your local brewery, you just have to give it a try and soon you may be a converted stout lover like me.
About Jason McClain Jason is an aspiring novelist, which means there is a lot of time to put off writing and watch baseball or go fly-fishing, hiking and traveling. By "a lot of time", Jason means "procrastination."