Countdown to St. Patrick’s Day – Stout

Click for guinness productsWhat’s the right beer for St. Patrick’s Day? Probably 90% of you said stout and a further 90% of that probably thought of a lovely pint of Guinness. But stout is brewed by almost every brewery in the world and there are many different styles of stout. And what better time to take a look at them than St. Patrick’s Day?

Dry Stout – This is the stout that most people probably think of when they think of stout. It is what you get when you buy a pint of Guinness on draught. Also known as Irish stout it’s no surprise that this particular stout flows the most freely here in the middle of March. It’s called dry because there is little detectable sweetness in the flavor. Although it is there it is covered up by the coffee-like bitterness of black roasted barley.

Sweet Stout – Also called Milk Stout it shouldn’t come as a surprise that this style tastes sweeter than dry. In most cases the sweetness comes from lactose, the sugar found in milk, because it isn’t fermentable by brewers yeast. With the bitterness toned down a bit this style is often enjoyed by those that find Guinness “a bit too much.”

Oatmeal Stout – This stout is brewed with oatmeal which gives it a sweeter taste, though oatmeal stouts are not typically as sweet as milk stouts. The oatmeal also gives the beer a full, silky mouthfeel.

Export Stout – Originally this stout was brewed with extra hops and extra barley making it higher in alcohol and bitterer than other stouts. Like India Pale Ale it was brewed this way for export as the extra alcohol and hops acted as preservative agents and protected it from spoilage. Naturally more stuff also meant more flavor and the style caught on. These days Export Stout retains the flavor but not the higher alcohol.

Russian Imperial Stout – This is the stout for big beer lovers. Historically this style always packed a punch with more flavor and alcohol even than export. Today’s brewers – especially American craft brewers – use the style as they compete to see who can cram the most flavor and alcohol into one brew. Imperial definitely is not for the faint hearted but if you want a serious stout experience this St. Patrick’s Day then this is the brew for you.

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