February is Stout Month
By Robin Loomis, Cicerone Certified
Stouts were once just a beer style, but come Stout Month in Boulder it looks more like a lifestyle. Every February Boulderites celebrate their right to drink lots of Stouts, which is something we here at Pettyjohn’s strongly support. Do you find yourself wondering ‘what exactly makes a beer a stout?’ The ingredients are the same as any other beer: barley, hops, yeast and water. Well, the term “Stout” was originally used as slang to indicate any strong ale. The main factor nowadays in Stouts is the barley is roasted or malted longer than other beer styles, contributing to how dark the stout is. The malts used often impart flavors of coffee and chocolate. Hops are an ingredient used in all stouts, but one that is subtly used and usually undetectable. Stouts may have once been a narrow category of beer style, yet today there are much to choose from; some more popular stouts include: milk, oatmeal, foreign, imperial and barrel aged. Today it is not uncommon to find a stout with cocoa, cinnamon, vanilla, or cold brew coffee, as breweries are experimenting more than ever with Stouts. Come celebrate Stout Month with us at Pettyjohn’s as we pay tribute to the dark ales that keep us warm in the winter months. Join us every Saturday this month, from 5-7pm, for more and more pours of new stouts to taste!
Dry Irish Stout
When you think of Irish stouts, Guinness is often the first to come to mind. The iconic brewery has been making dry, balanced beers since before the “dry Irish” moniker became popular. “The reason some Irish stouts became known as ‘dry’ is the practice of using unmalted dark-roasted barley for color, aroma and taste, in place of roasted malted barley,” says Guinness brewmaster Stephen Kilcullen. “Unmalted barley doesn’t contribute much, if any, sugar and body to the beer, meaning it has a dryer, less sweet taste and often a slightly more roasty, almost astringent quality.”
Also called “sweet stouts,” milk stouts are marked by the addition of lactose, a sugar naturally found in dairy, which lends a soft, creamy sweetness. The full-bodied (but oftentimes low-ABV) beer has roots tracing back to the 1900s in Great Britain. Dry and overly roasted stouts have their place, but a milk stout should always finish like a glass of chocolate milk, coating the palate all the way down.
As advertised, oats make an appearance in the recipe for oatmeal stouts, but the ingredient is used more for texture than flavor. Originally conceived as an alternative to the rising popularity of milk stouts in Great Britain, the addition of oats yields a creamy mouthfeel but without any sweetness.
You could technically file coffee stouts under a master umbrella of “flavored stout,” but with brewers finding new and interesting ways to work with coffee as an ingredient, it merits its own category. Coffee beans can bring a pleasing bitterness to all styles of beer, but stouts have long been the go-to match because the dark malty character of the beer works so well with the chocolatey, bittersweet notes of coffee
A magical chemistry happens when stouts spend time aging in a barrel. The alcohol percentage tips the scales over 10 percent, the body of the beer becomes silk-smooth, and wood characteristics like oak, vanilla and dry tannins, often sink into the roasted malts, creating a symphony of dark flavors.
Defined by its higher alcohol content (usually 8 percent or more), the Imperial Stout also has origins in Europe but it has become a favorite of American brewers. The higher alcohol often yields a more intense sweetness and pronounced dark chocolate and coffee flavors.
Left Hand Nitro Milk Stout- Reg. $10.99 Sale $9.99
Taking America Back. Dark & delicious, America’s great milk stout will change your perception about what a stout can be. Pouring hard out of the bottle, Milk Stout Nitro cascades beautifully, building a tight, thick head like hard whipped cream. The aroma is of brown sugar and vanilla cream, with hints of roasted coffee. The pillowy head coats your upper lip and its creaminess entices your palate. Initial roasty, mocha flavors rise up, with slight hop & roast bitterness in the finish. The rest is pure bliss of milk chocolate fullness.
Upslope Oatmeal Stout- Reg. $10.99 Sale $9.99
Smooth, roasty and sessionable, our Oatmeal Stout packs full flavor and a robust body for a silky drinking experience. Brewed with oats, roasted malts and East Kent Golding hops, our stout is perfectly balanced with a full body and smooth finish.
Crystal Springs Woody’s Salted Chocolate Stout- $10.57 Sale $8.99
Despite the pretty straight forward nose here, the pallet has a lot going on. The roasted notes are front and center, but they’re complimented by bitter, dark chocolate flavors and a lightly salted finish.” -Beer Advocate
Woody’s brings together chocolaty sweetness and dark roasted malts, with just a hint of salt for a very drinkable and enjoyable beer.
Boulevard Whiskey Barrel 4-pack- $16.99 Sale $14.99
Over-the-top but surprisingly approachable, this twist on the classic style starts with several types of malted barley, rye, oats and wheat. Robust flavors of vanilla, espresso, whiskey, chocolate and roasted grain are balanced by hints of date and plum, with just enough hops to round it all out. Roughly one-third of the final blend is freshly brewed beer; the rest is aged for up to a year (or more!) in both first and second use whiskey casks