Editor’s Note: This new weekly sponsored column is written by the staff of Georgetown Square Wine and Beer (10400 Old Georgetown Road).
I’m sure many beer drinkers have seen an array of Christmas and winter seasonal beers on your local store’s shelves already. There are tons of them, more than ever. I can barely keep up. Before this craze of new winter seasonal beers there was a more traditional winter beer style that people enjoyed during the cold months: Stouts.
Stouts are dark beers that use either roasted malts or roasted barley in the brewing process. The most famous and best selling is the dry Irish stout Guiness, which can be consumed at any time of the year thanks in part to its low alcohol content.
Inspired by Guiness and our Irish and English ancestors, American brewers have come up with some impressive delicious stout libations. Complimenting the roasted flavors of the stout style, American brewers have smartly added additional flavors such as more hops, ground coffee, chocolate and sometimes age the brew in bourbon or whiskey barrels. Some of these brews, like Brooklyn Black Ops and Goose Island Bourbon County Stout, are so sought after they’re almost impossible to get.
Out of all the different American stouts, coffee stouts seem to be the most-brewed style in the winter months. With the roasted dark malts and barley adding coffee to the brew makes a perfect compliment to the stout’s dark taste and structure. Great for any after dinner drink or on a warm night coffee stouts have terrific flavor plus give us a little caffeine fix at the same time.
As of now we have an overflow of coffee stouts in stock. Flying Dog’s Kujo Imperial Coffee Stout is a local favorite out of Frederick, MD. Lagunitas makes a great Cappuccino stout. Old Dominion makes an espresso stout named Morning Glory. Schlafly out of St. Louis is on fire with their seasonal offerings and continue that trend with their coffee stout. My personal favorite is the New Belgium Imperial Coffee Stout, which adds some chocolate to the brew that makes it delicious.
Chocolate stouts were originally called chocolate not because of chocolate added, but because of the dark chocolate color and the chocolate malt used. American brewers thought: why not add some chocolate to the brew making it more appealing to the American palate?
One of the few American chocolate stouts that does not add chocolate flavor that we carry is Brooklyn Chocolate Stout. Brooklyn brewery uses 3 different types of dark malts to derive a nice chocolate flavor in this beer. We also just got in Southern Tier Choklat Stout, which is brewed with chocolate and is a favorite of many.
American brewers have gone back to the old English ways of brewing stouts with oatmeal added. Originally oatmeal stouts out of England would use over 30% oats in the brewing process. This would turn the beer almost into porridge. More recently though in the 20th century brewers would use a less amount of oats into the process making it a rich complex and balanced type of stout. As of now we have Southern Tier Oatmeal Stout, Mendocino Oatmeal Stout and one of the originals (not brewed in the U.S.A) Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout.
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