Winter nights in San Diego can get pretty nippy. Why not pop open a stout to warm you up? My first exposure to stouts was a bottle of Guinness Draught (pronounced "draft" for some weird Euro reason). I was in love with the creamy head and velvety texture. Years later when I got more adventurous when it came to food thanks to Sarah, Elmo, Kirk, and Cpt. Jack (sorry Charlie, I met you much later :P ), I went and tried Young's Chocolate Stout on tap. That was when my infatuation with stouts began. Place a beer menu in front of me and my eyes immediately start scanning for stouts. Even in the summer heat.
I'd like to briefly share with you guys a small handful of the many stouts (and a porter) that I enjoy. :D
Smell - Toasted malts/biscuit. Coffee and chocolate. Simple boquet that is deliciously fragrant.
Taste - First, you get smacked with a mouthful of rich malt/oats(sweet) before the dark chocolate, milk and coffee show up. Soon after, hops jump into the party to balance things out. Burnt molasses, caramel, and a hint of dark fruit is present in the background to give a subtle sweetness. Finish is briefly dry and hoppy with the sweetness slowly fading in the background. Ends with coffee.
Feel - Full bodied. Slick and creamy with minimal carbonation. Very very fine like it came from a nitro tap.
Comments - One of my all-time favorites. Flavors are complex and extremely well balanced. The taste and texture hides the hefty 12% ABV in this beast. It is hard to express how amazing this brew is, but (sorry if this offends) the first time I tried it I saw God. Seriously though, every time I treat myself out to the Speedway, it is a religious experience. Currently aging one in my "beer cellar".
Port Brewing Old Viscosity (American Strong Ale)
Smell - Not a lot going on in this particular bottle for some reason... Just bits of choco and coffee.
Taste - Big on roasted (almost burnt) malts and espresso, some chocolate. Bit smokey. No real aroma or maybe just a little hint of it being stored in a Bourbon barrel. Dry. Alcohol taste throughout (10%ABV), bittersweet finish.
Feel - Eh. Thought it would be fuller. Medium carbonation.
Comments - This was an all right bottle. Other people have also had widely varying experiences with Old Viscosity, so I plan on additional purchases...on tap at Pizza Port. Lumped it along with the stouts since they are kinda similar. In terms of a real stout from Port Brewing, the Cowabunga stout (tap only) blows Old Viscosity out of the water and can almost hang with the Speedway.
Deschutes Black Butte Porter (American Porter)
Smell - Charred. Roasted malt/coffee. Faint sweetness.
Taste - Big roasted malt flavor with some coffee thrown in for a good measure. Subtle biscuit? and light touch of burnt sweetness. Just the right amount of hop bitterness. Finishes with espresso and lingering hoppiness.
Feel - Hearty and full flavors in a medium-to-light body? HOW DID THEY DO IT?!
Comments - I think of this as Stout Jr. Like Alesmith, Deschutes is an amazing brewery and you really can't go wrong with any of their pickings. This porter is just...amazing. Alot going on in your mouth but somehow it all feels right.
North Coast Brewing Old Rasputin (Russian Imperial Stout)
Smell - Huge on roasted almost-burnt malts and espresso. Burnt sugar in the background with some chocolate.
Taste - You get whacked with a big mouthful of smooth burnt malt/espresso/sugar. Yet still kinda nutty. Hint of cocoa and maybe raisin. Underlying hoppiness for good measure of balance. Finishes with faint toffee. Alcohol in background, but not easy to detect (9%ABV).
Feel - Foams up really easily. Medium carbonation and body.
Comments - Amazing stuff that I always keep on hand. Despite such a big burnt aroma, flavor is not bitter at all. Very complex sipper to enjoy with smokes after a shitty day.
Young's Chocolate Stout (Milk/Sweet Stout)
Smell - Oodles of milk chocolate and caramel. No surprise here!
Taste - BAM! Milk chocolate, then espresso/malts/oats seep in with hops watching from afar. Finishes with nutty malt sweetness.
Feel - Medium carbination and silky body. Foams up if you toss it around in the mouth too much. Very creamy if you get it to briefly foam in your mouth.
Comments - Ah, the drink that started it all. Not the best I've had, by any means; but like a first sweetheart, it holds a special place in my heart. Rogue Chocolate Stout and the aforementioned Port Brewing Cowabunga stout are richer in flavor, but Young's seems to be more readily available when I go out. This is always ready in my "beer cellar" as well.
There you have it folks! Part 1 of my beer and stout posts. Next time it might be IPAs or more burnt malty/chocolately/coffee stout goodness. I'm sure most of you have noticed that I use a Guinness glass...weird I know. It's just to remind myself that culinary adventurousness pays off. There is always something new, interesting, and tasty to try!
In other news, looks like Will @ Eclipse is having another themed dinner going on! This time it is a 3-course Mediterranean dinner on Friday 3/21 and Saturday 3/22. RSVP ASAP as tables will be filled hella fast (as always). Preliminary photos look very enticing. Exciting stuff. Read and drool all about it here when info is officially published. Also, the new dessert platter is out!