Being Irish we’d like to think we know our way around a pint of stout, but it was a pint of the biggest name around and not craft stouts the go to order, until recently. Those of us living in the capital will surely be familiar with the unique aroma that blankets the surrounding areas of James’ Gate. Serving as a sensory reminder that one of the best and most popular drinks in the world is brewed right here within our small city.
That being said, there is a whole world of dark roasted beers out there that deserve our attention. Not to be held against a Guinness set benchmark, but to be appreciated for their own unique taste and characteristics. This month I’ve picked three craft stouts with distinctly different flavors to try to demonstrate the variety available in the dark world of stout.
First up we have World’s End by Black’s brewery of Kinsale, Co.Cork. This is an imperial stout, meaning that it should pack a punch with a higher than average ABV. Think of it like a double IPA of the stout kingdom. This as a true dessert drink with strong flavors of chocolate and sweet vanilla.
With vanilla pods and cacao husks being added to the brewing process, this is an incredibly well rounded drink as the high alcohol content is balanced by the intense sweetness to deliver a real smooth finish. A truly exceptional beer and my personal pick for Irish Beer of the Year 2016. On a limited run I would expect the demand will be high enough to see this one return again.
Next up we have the true classic combination of stout and coffee. Being such a popular style means there is an abundance of choice here but I have gone with the Americano by Stone Brewing. Having setup their European brewing operations in Berlin last year to great success, this west coast American brewing behemoth has not become regularly available across the country. An imperial with 8.7% ABV this time, this stout is finished off with espresso and has some lovely roasted notes to it also. A seasonal offering this is one to pick up a six pack if ever you see one. Perfect to enjoy right away or store and allow to age for a year to intensify the bold flavors.
Finally we finish one of the more obscure flavorings of stout available. Oyster stout from The Porter House Brewing Company. Being one of the longest running craft breweries in Ireland, these guys really do know a thing or two about all things beer. As strange as this combination initially sounds, stout (particularly Guinness) has long been recognized as the perfect drink pairing for these salty jewels of the sea.
The guys aren’t messing around here either, they actually shuck fresh oysters right into the finishing tanks. It’s hard to say what the real impact is here but there is distinct flavor to this drink and it really tingles on the tongue. But be warned, this is not suitable for vegetarians!
Having previously devoted every ounce of his spare time to music, Tony is more commonly found these days in a kitchen than on a stage. With experience in writing on festivals and shows around the country he has recently turned his pen to more culinary exposés. With a particular penchant for craft beer he can often be spotted travelling from one bar to another in search of the latest brew to hit the market.