Our First Annual Stout week is coming up, and we thought we should write up a bit of an explainer on the history and origins of stout beers. First of all, we love the style. Stouts come in a wide variety, all of which are dark. But never fear, most are very approachable. The term stout originally meant a stronger version of any style of beer, and as darker beers gained traction, this was often times a Porter. This characterization of course has changed in the modern era to mean a specific family of very dark beers. Although folks can argue over whether or not there is really any difference between the Stout and Porter Families of beers, we plan on ignoring that cacophony, and diving straight into the world of Stout Beers!
Let’s review Styles:
Milk stout (also called sweet stout or cream stout), is a stout containing lactose, a sugar derived from milk. Because lactose is unfermentable by beer yeast, it adds sweetness, body, and calories to the finished beer. Historically people thought of milk stout as nutritious, and hence was given to nursing mothers.
Dry or Irish stout
With milk or sweet stout becoming the dominant stout in the UK in the early 20th century, it was mainly in Ireland that the non-sweet or standard stout was being made. As standard stout has a drier taste than the English and American sweet stouts, and they came to be called dry stout or Irish stout to differentiate them from stouts with added lactose or oatmeal. Though still sometimes termed Irish or dry stout, particularly if made in Ireland, this is the standard stout sold and would normally just be termed “stout”.
Oatmeal stout is a stout with a proportion of oats, normally a maximum of 30% of the grain bill, added during the brewing process. Even though a larger proportion of oats in beer can lead to a bitter or astringent taste, during the medieval period in Europe, oats were a common ingredient in ale, and proportions up to 35% were standard.
There was a revival of interest in using oats during the end of the 19th century, when (supposedly) restorative, nourishing and invalid beers, such as the later milk stout, were popular, because of the association of porridge with health. Some oatmeal stout uses a minimal amount of oats. With such a small quantity of oats used, it could have had little impact on the flavor or texture of the beer. Oatmeal stouts do not usually taste specifically of oats. The smoothness of oatmeal stouts comes from the high content of proteins, lipids (includes fats and waxes), and gums imparted by the use of oats.
Chocolate stout is a name brewers sometimes give to certain stouts having a noticeable dark chocolate flavor through the use of darker, more aromatic malt; particularly chocolate malt—a malt that has been roasted or kilned until it acquires a chocolate color. Sometimes, the beers are also brewed with actual chocolate!
Oysters have had a long association with stout. When stouts were emerging in the 18th century, oysters were a commonplace food served in public houses and taverns. Modern oyster stouts may be made with a handful of oysters in the barrel. Others use the name with the implication that the beer would be suitable for drinking with oysters.
Imperial stout, also known as Russian imperial stout or imperial Russian stout, is a strong dark beer or stout in the style that was brewed in the 18th century. It has a high alcohol content, usually over 9% abv. This style is often aged in used Bourbon or Whisky barrels to imbue the beer with a mellow, boozy, flavor.
There you have it folks! Now, we’re bringing in some delightful stouts for our event. We are leaning towards heavier, darker, barrel aged stouts. These bigger stouts tend to present a depth of flavor profile that we really love. The big ones are served in a snifter, and are surely meant to be sipped rather than quaffed.
Here’s a list of beers we’ll have on tap:
Bourbon County – Brand Stout 13.7% ABV – 60 IBU – Chicago/IL
$9 per 12 oz snifter
Brewed in honor of the 1000th batch at our original Clybourn brewpub. A liquid as dark and dense as a black hole with thick foam the color of a bourbon barrel. The nose is an intense mix of charred oak, chocolate, vanilla, caramel and smoke. One sip has more flavor than your average case of beer.
Sierra Nevada – Narwhal Imperial Stout 10.2% ABV – 60 IBU – Chico/CA
$6 per 12 oz snifter
Featuring incredible depth of malt flavor, rich with notes of espresso, baker’s cocoa, roasted grain and a light hint of smoke, Narwhal is a massive malt-forward monster. Aggressive but refined with a velvety smooth body and decadent finish.
Deschutes – Abyss Russian Imperial Stout 12.2% ABV – 86 IBU – Bend/OR
$8 per 12 oz snifter
A deep, dark Imperial Stout, The Abyss has almost immeasurable depth and complexity. Hints of molasses, licorice and other alluring flavors make it something not just to quaff, but contemplate.
Elysian – The Fix Choc. Coff. Imp. Stout 8.9% ABV – 55 IBU – Seattle/WA
$8 per 12 oz snifter
Dark, rich, and roasty with Stumptown coffee and aged on cocoa nibs sourced by Theo Chocolate, this stout is complex and full of your favorite dark matter.
Big Sky – Ivan the Terrible Imp. Stout 9.5% ABV – 39 IBU – Missoula/MT
$8 per 12 oz snifter
Ivan the Terrible Imperial Stout is Brewed according to the traditional style using English hops and the finest american malt. It’s aroma and flavor balance well between esters of dried fruit and roasted cocoa with a slight bourbon presence.
Grand Teton – Black Cauldron Imp. Stout 8.0% ABV – 47 IBU – Victor/ID
$8 per 12 oz snifter
This thick, rich ale was brewed with plenty of caramel and roasted malts, and subtly spiced with American Chinook and Willamette hops. It boasts flavors of chocolate and coffee, along with raisins and dried fruit soaked in sherry. We’ve accentuated the natural smokiness of the brew by adding a small amount of beech wood-smoked malt and aging the brew in an oak whiskey barrel, which also adds notes of oak and vanilla.
We will be offering Flights of all 6 stouts that we have on tap all week long.
*Some beers will be restricted to no growler fills based on the limited quantity we are able to get!