After a long hiatus of figuring out what is going on in my life and the over saturation of flavours that the fall brought us, I am back with a new post!
Everyone knows that Winter is cold and the time for cold refreshing drinks is not now. So what brewers have been doing for a very, very long time, is aging and already dark beer that was once a refreshing brew into a strong, flavour packed, slow sipping Stout, perfect for sitting next to the fire.
Of course, when I thought about writing again I figured I’d have to go for something topical, and something that once people read this they could go out and get some Stouts for themselves. What I hadn’t realized was when I walked into the LCBO that there was so many choices! There are so many great breweries making great Stouts and they all come out right now! How can one possibly try them all without blowing the bank or getting sick of them? Well you could try that, and I would applaud you, but I’m not about that, So I’ve gone deep into the totally unreliable memory of Stouts past that are still available, assisted by what I’ve written before as well as selecting a few readily available and popular Stouts to give some of you a basis of what to go for.
When people think of Stout, craft or not, their first thought is Guinness Irish Stout. By no means are they craft beer, but damn it’s still a pretty darn good Stout, a classic that I will always recommend everyone tries at least once. It’s on the sweet end of the Stout spectrum, with a very creamy kind of texture to it especially if you have the chance to have it on draft (not Draft Can). The flavour profile is simple, which you may want in between all of the experimental choices most Ontario breweries are going with. And can we talk about the perfect pour that you can get at The Old South Village Pub?
When looking at Craft Stouts, there’s two thinks you need to notice before buying. Those two things are Imperial Stout and Bourbon Barrel Aged Stout. If you haven’t had either, or let alone any Stouts, they will beat you up and take your lunch money. These guys are heavy hitters, usually sitting around 9-11% and after sitting in a tank or cask for several months or years they are grumpy and ready to slap you with flavour and booziness.
The first one that comes to mind is Nickel Brook’s Kentucky Bastard, and 11.9% Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout. After a full year of sitting in whiskey-soaked wood you can taste exactly that with hints of vanilla and oak. If you like bourbon straight, then this might be like a dessert for you. Nickel Brook also has a much more modest stout called Cheeky Bastard, a chocolaty dry stout that will leave you wishing you kept your moustache from Movember (I have a half-written blog post about that which will come out eventually).
Sawdust came out with two more Stouts, or rather two version of one Stout. Aptly named “Long, Dark Voyage to Uranus”. An Imperial Stout that is rich with a very dark chocolate, almost like baker’s chocolate. Roasted flavours loom long after you’ve sipped this smooth low carbonation beer. It’s very easy to forget that it sits at 9.2% this one is for the fans of a rich mocha espresso. The other version emphasizes vanilla and coffee, which I have yet to try.
Remaining up in cottage country, Muskoka Brewery also offers a main stay stout: “Shinnicked Stout” is a much more coffee flavoured Stout. You can clearly smell the freshly brewed coffee and because of that there is an emphasise of malts as well. Not as smooth, and much more of a sipper, Shinnicked only sits at 5.2% and doesn’t make you feel bad for having another one.
How about catching a train down to Railway City and then finding out they put you on the naughty list and gave you “Black Coal”. Well in this instance, it’s great! A much sweeter Stout compared to the previous two, I would say Black Coal resembles Guinness in that it’s quite refreshing while being quite filling. Not much to say for roasted flavours or chocolate, but definitely hints of vanilla.
Finally, there’s a 3rd type of Stout, the Oatmeal Stout. This is a pretty old-fashioned way of making beer mostly because oats were readily available. My prime example for everyone to try comes from Sawdust City: “Skinny Dippin’ Stout“. This low impact 5.5% brew is packed with bitter roasted oats that warms you up while filling your ever-challenging backyard ice rink.
I see no need in ranking these because they all bring something different to the table. Obviously, there are plenty of other Stouts to go out and try, but hopefully these few selections will make some good impressions for you.