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Stouts: A Journey into Darkness!

Updated on June 26, 2014

Stout Ales. A Dark Topic

This lens will contain reviews and discussion of one of my favorite beer styles. Join me in a journey through the mysterious realm of Stouts. From the dry stouts that are familiar to everyone to the specialty stouts made with oatmeal and other grains to the strong imperial styles, I will guide you in the trip through darkness.

A view to a stout
A view to a stout

What is a stout?

Does it really taste like used motor oil?

The origin of stout is tied to porter. In the early 18th century, porter was developed. At the time, it was customary to mix old and new beer together into a concoction called "three threads". Porter replaced this and made it a lot easier on the tavern keeper as they only had to draw from 1 cask as opposed to 3. Eventually a stronger version of porter came into existence and was referred to as "stout porter". Soon the porter designation was dropped and the beer was just called stout.

Made with roasted barley and pale malt, stout has evolved from the dry stout that is associated with Ireland to several different varieties. There is even a stout made with milk sugar (lactose) as an ingredient which was touted as a healthy restorative for invalids and pregnant women. A very strong version of stout was the favorite of the Russian Imperial court and it is still brewed today as Imperial or Double stout.

Dark and flavorful, stout is a good beer anytime. It is not necessarily thick and/or strong as some people tend to believe. In fact, a dry stout has less alcohol and fewer calories than most mainstream lagers. If you hold a glass of stout to the light you may see tones of red and brown. The basic flavor is roasty, sweet and malty. It goes down well on a hot summer day as well as a cold winter evening. In the islands of the Caribbean, stout is a routine refresher.

In this lens I will review different stouts and hopefully spread some light on a dark topic.

D.O.R.I.S the Destroyer
D.O.R.I.S the Destroyer

D.O.R.I.S. The Destroyer Double Imperial Stout

Hoppin Frog Brewery, Akron OH

This is an EXTREME example of stout. D.O.R.I.S. stands for Double Oatmeal Russian Imperial Stout. It is made with oatmeal as an ingredient and is 10.5% alcohol by volume.

Appearance: Pours a deep dark brown with a thin coffee colored head which dissipates quickly. When held to the light, it is an opaque dark brown with slight red highlights.

Smell: Rich and chocolaty with fruity sweetness and some aroma of hops. No alcohol aroma present.

Taste: The taste is sweet and malty with fruity overtones and a smooth oiliness from the oatmeal. There is a slight alcohol aftertaste that is warming and not unpleasant. There is a flavor of hops and a balanced bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied and smooth. Very satisfying.

Overall: This is an extreme example of a stout and meets expectations. Full bodied without being cloying. Dark and mysterious with a warming quality that goes down well on a cold evening. It would go well with a steak or other grilled food such as chicken. It would also go well with a chocolate dessert such as cake.

Books from Amazon about Stouts and brewing in general

Imperial Oat Oatmeal Stout

Southern Tier Brewing Company Lakewood, NY

Oatmeal stouts are made with an addition of oatmeal to the mash. The oatmeal adds a creamy silkiness to the beer.

Appearance: Pours a solid black with a nice tan head that lasts and leaves lacing on the glass.

Smell: Roast grains with an aroma of oatmeal cookies. Hints of chocolate and coffee.

Taste: Dunk an oatmeal cookie into a sweet espresso roast coffee and you will come close. Slight alcohol aftertaste as can be expected with an imperial stout. The bitterness is there but is balanced by the sweetness.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied and rich. Smooth and satisfying.

Overall: A nice example of imperial stout. Nothing overboard. Warming and full without being cloying. Very smooth and tasty. A good beer to sip on a cold evening.

2X Stout Double Milk Stout

Southern Tier Brewing Company Lakewood NY

Another offering from Southern Tier. This is a "double Milk Stout", meaning it is stronger than a standard stout and it has lactose (milk sugar) as one of its ingredients.

Appearance: Pours a deep dark brown with a thin tan head that dissipates quickly.

Smell: Roasted malt and a bit of a sweet fruity aroma. Some caramel and toffee is present.

Taste: Malty and roasty with a smoothness contributed by the lactose. Some caramel flavor. A slight bitterness balances the sweetness. The aftertaste is of roasted malt, not unlike coffee.

Mouthfeel: On the light side of medium bodied. Satisfying.

Overall: This would be a good all around beer. Refreshing on a hot day and warming on a cold day.

Rogue Chocolate Stout

Rogue Ales Newport Oregon

This is a stout made with chocolate as one ingredient.

Appearance: Pours a deep brown with a thick long lasting beige head that leaves lacing on the glass.

Smell: Chocolate in the front supported by a roasty malt aroma. It is similar to the aroma of a chocolate lollypop

Taste: Chocolate!!! A nice balanced sweetness/bitterness with lots of chocolate flavor which carries over into the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied and has a rich silkiness. Smooth

Overall: A very good stout. Lots of flavor. It would pair well with any dessert containing chocolate or is great by itself.

Double Chocolate Stout

Rogue Ales Newport, OR

This is the natural following to the previous entry. This is Rogue's chocolate stout on steroids. :)

Appearance: Pours a deep dark brown with a thick fluffy brown head that is long lasting and leaves plenty of lacing.

Smell: Chocolate, dark malts, some honey aroma, some hops aroma.

Taste: CHOCOLATE!!! also coffee, malt sweetness, slight citrus hops

Mouthfeel: thick and rich without being cloying. Slight alcohol warming

Overall: This is really good. I will have to buy again. A nice warming beer for a cold evening

Magic Hat Heart of Darkness Stout

Magic Hat Brewing Company, South Burlington VT

Appearance: Pours an opaque dark brown with a thin beige head that dissipates to a thin film on top.

Smell: The smell is of roasted grains and coffee. Nothing else stands out.

Taste: The taste is of coffee and roasted grains. No caramel or fruit. Some bitter aftertaste followed by a slight alcohol flavor

Mouthfeel: Light bodied. Not really to style.

Overall:A good middle of the road offering. Nothing really stands out good or bad. I liked it but there are better stouts out there in my opinion. If I could see one thing changed about this it would be making the body a bit fuller.

Samuel Adams Thirteenth Hour

Boston Beer Company, Boston MA

This offering is a Belgian style stout. There are 2 types of Belgian stout. One is a sweet version similar to a milk stout. The other is a stronger version similar to an imperial stout. This beer is in the latter category.

Appearance: Pours black with a thick creamy tan head which lasts and lasts.

Smell: Malt, coffee, chocolate and a slight fruitiness followed by a slight alcohol aroma.

Taste: Fruity, chocolatey, coffee and malt. No real discernible alcohol flavor. Complex and balanced with a warming effect.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied without being cloying. Clean and satisfying

Overall: This is a good beer. Nice and tasty with a satisfying effect. I will buy again.

Dark Starr Stout

Starr Hill Brewery Crozet, VA

Irish dry stout is a simple beer. Smooth with a roasty flavor, they are satisfying.

Dark Starr is a good example of the dry stout style

Appearance: Pours black into the glass with a tan fluffy head that is long lasting and tightly packed.

Smell: Roasted grains, hint of coffee, slight caramel aroma, malt.

Taste: Bitterness from the roasted barley comes first but is smoothed out by the caramel and malt. There is a slight coffee-like aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied without being cloying. Goes down smooth

Overall: I will try this again. It is a good example of style. It would go well with roast meat or sweet desserts or alone on a hot summer day.

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