With spring less than a month away we are beginning to long for warmth (yes, even in Florida we can get a little chilly this time of year) and what better way to do so than with a hearty stout or porter from your favorite watering hole. While working the other night I couldn't help but notice all of the people drinking stout (Tricked Out), it happened to be our second best seller of the evening (only behind a new beer release) which is atypical for that beer. Even our die-hard pale ale imbibers were throwing back the dark stuff. It got me wondering, what was causing this independent consensus to crave our stout. Then it hit me, its winter and they need some liquid warmth! With flavors and aromas reminiscent of chocolate, coffee, and roasted sweetness it's no wonder that people seek out stouts when they need to warm their souls.
Stouts began their lives over in London, England in the early 1700's and were born of another common dark beer, porters. Porters were common place by the late 1700's and were typically dark brown in color with an ABV around 6%. Just like us Americans, the English pushed the level of alcohol up and up as the years passed and with it grew a new style of porter...the stout porter! Stout was simply a prefix to mean "strong" just as we call strong IPA's, "double IPA" or "imperial IPA". Eventually, the suffix of "porter" was dropped and the stout was born. As new malts were developed they also began to darken in color to the near pitch black that we see today.
Today's stouts tend to be above 7% ABV (with the exception of Dry (Irish) Stouts) and pour a very dark brown to black color. The head should be thick and creamy with a tan to brown color. Stouts are opaque but not hazy! You should be able to smell hints of coffee, chocolate, grain, roastiness, nutty, and/or molasses with very similar taste. There should be little-to-no hop aroma or bitterness. It should feel rich and full but yet smooth and creamy.
There are many variations of the stout, the most common are:
Nick's Picks & Pairings
These ink wells of craft beer are not only great on their own but they pair amazingly with foods as well. If you're out to dinner look to pair a stout with one of these foods for a taste bud experience you won't forget!
And if you prefer to stay in for the night, try using stout to cook with!
Slow Cooker Stout French Dip Sandwiches
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 to 10 hours
Yield: 4-6 servings
What are your favorite stouts, food pairings, and recipes?!