Basically, every two weeks, these ladies pick a beer style for us to try and talk about. Since that’s what I do…uh, most nights, I figured it’d be silly not to join in.
This week, the beer style is…stouts.
Stouts are not usually my first choice. I think for most people, the first stout you try is Guinness (and it was probably poured wrong) and when you’re a kid who’s used to Natty Light and Coors and Bud (ick, ick, ick), Guinness is…a lot to take. I know a lot of people who think “stout” and think “Oh, no, too heavy, too thick, give me something light and crisp (or watered down) instead.”
I also tried a couple really thick oatmeal stouts in college (one was called Old Engine Oil and was…aptly named).
But over the years I’ve grown more open to at least trying pretty much any beer I can find — though if I’m at a bar, I’ll always still ask for a taster or sample of a stout first before ordering it. Drinking a stout is a commitment. I have to be sure I’ll like it if I’m gonna order a full pint. (I’ve also learned this lesson with experimental beers and spicy IPAs.)
My favorite stout is, as far as I can tell, no longer made — it was an Imperial Russian Stout by Karl Strauss. Oh man, I have no idea why I ordered that — I must’ve gotten a flight or something first — but that was good. Now all I can find from them is Wreck Alley Stout. Sad face.
My other favorite is Belching Beaver’s Milk Stout (and all its variations, especially the Peanut Butter Milk Stout). If you’re ever in the area, I highly recommend it (it’s not super common in bars but you can get bombers at most grocery stores — and Costco).
But for this “official” Into the Pint Glass tasting, I asked my husband to surprise me and grab a stout when he was getting other groceries. He came home with Left Coast Brewing’s Voo Doo American Stout.
I didn’t know American Stout was a thing. From Beer Advocate:
American Stouts are:
- Inspired by English and Irish stouts
- Taken to a new level thanks to American brewers’ originality and innovation
- Highly hopped or with coffee or chocolate added to complement the roasted flavors
- Possibly barrel-aged in bourbon or whiskey barrels
- Balanced, usually
- Easy drinking “session stouts,” usually
This particular American stout, according to Left Coast:
Voo Doo is a full bodied, dark brew that is rich and malty with plenty of roasted barley character. This hearty stout is layered with flavors of roasted barley, chocolate, and coffee coming from the highest quality imported malts. Its creamy long lasting head completes the brew, tempting your taste buds to be spellbound.
It’s ABV is 8.0% and IBU is 39.
I even poured this into a proper stout glass to do this tasting “right” — and poured it wrong so I didn’t get that “creamy long lasting head.” Whoops. My take?
Aroma – I mainly picked up coffee/espresso.
Color/Appearance – Very dark, almost black. What little head I did get in there was dark tan. Very little visible carbonation.
Flavor – Again, coffee was the strongest flavor I picked up, along with the roasted barley. The chocolate flavor was very subtle.
Overall – I think my favorite thing about this beer was the flavor actually improved as it warmed up, allowing me to sip and drink it slowly. Most stouts are like this, or at least they should be, because (to me) they’re meant to be nursed and therefore have to maintain their flavor as they start to warm up. It was pretty light- to medium-bodied and went down smooth — and I wouldn’t have guessed it had 8% ABV. Solid. It hasn’t stolen the top spot from the Imperial Russian Stout or the Milk Stout, though.
What I didn’t get a lot of was hops in this beer. It seems to come down more on the “session stout” side of American stouts than the “highly hopped” side.
Also, I probably wouldn’t have liked this five years ago when I still didn’t like coffee.
Do you have a favorite stout? Or a good story thanks to Guinness? (Ask me about car bomb cupcake chasers sometime…)