I recently received a positive comment from a reader about an article on beer I wrote in 2011. Curiosity made me go back and read what I had written and now I need to do a short followup.
In the original article I declared that myself an ale man, especially those of the British Isles. I also stated that Guinness was possibly the only stout I had tasted and that I liked it.
Since then much has changed. First being the number of beer brands and styles I’ve sampled and secondly, Guinness is now just one of several dozen stouts that have passed my lips. Matter of fact, I am no longer an ale man but now proudly declare my allegiance to the world of stouts.
While one could write a book about the variety of stouts it wouldn’t be as fun as tracking them down and spending an evening with one. They come in several styles and are made from a variety of ingredients. While most are made from barley some use oats. Most are made with just the basic ingredients of any beer, barley, hops, yeast, and water but in some the brewer adds oyster shells during the brewing process. To some milk lactose is added to make it sweeter and softer while others are made harsher by increasing the malt’s roasting time and upping the alcohol level.
The word stout originally came from these beers being the strongest of the porters, the stoutest. While this may still be true of the Imperial Stouts the most popular in today’s world are those with a somewhat watery consistency, least hoppy, and low alcohol content. Typical of these is Guinness Draught, one of the oldest and most popular beers in the world. After all my tasting experiments it is the Guinness style of stout that I’ve come to enjoy the most. It is creamy smooth, just slightly bitter, a pleasant sweetness, about 4% alcohol content, and it pours with a delicious looking head that last to the last mouth full. To me the perfect companion for an enjoyable evening is a pint of Guinness style stout.
Other brands that are similar to, and just as good, Guinness include, Guinness Red Harvest Stout, Murphy’s Irish Stout, and Belhaven’s Black Stout. For a domestic equivalent I’d go for a Left Hand Brewery Nitro Milk Stout. One of the things all these great brews share in common is the use of nitrogen, rather than carbon dioxide, to give the brew its fizz. Nitrogen bubbles are smaller, don’t break down as quickly, and create a creamier, less bitty, mouthfeel.
I still enjoy a good English or Scottish ale and the occasional bottle of traditional American lager. Just today I purchased a 6-pack of Wiedemann’s lager that is again being brewed in Newport, Kentucky as a craft beer. My dislike of most things Samuel Adams remains intact except for Sam’s Cream Stout which compares favorably with Left Hand’s milk stouts.
As for the future one never knows. Hell, in two years I might be sidling up to a bar and ordering a long-neck Miller Lite. Hey waiter, give me a bottle of that squid piss! Squid piss for all my friends!