Love it or hate it: Stout

by Stephanie Gall

Love itI was in my 30s when I drank my first stout, and yes, it was Guinness (“Guinness is Good For You” has been a thing since 1920). A few years ago, I discovered Left Hand Milk Stout Nitro and my life forever changed. The dense, creamy head was as if someone plopped whipped cream on top of a milky, burnt-sugar alcoholic beverage. This beer won my heart, and I’d marry it if I could.

The difference between porters and stouts are at the brewer’s discretion, but typically stouts contain less water, more booze, and are perfect for those who like coffee, caramel and chocolate flavors. Stouts taste great because of science – roasted barley creates a complex flavor profile. On the other hand, lazy IPAs have that hoppy bitterness, which overpowers impurities in brewing and makes my gut bubble like a Jacuzzi full of chili.

Stereotypically, women are pigeonholed as wheat or fruit beer drinkers, while men are branded as IPA and stout drinkers. If I had a nickel for every time a beerista recommended a fruit beer to me, I’d have at least a dollar! There are people who get through the week fetishizing IPAs, but I’m all about the stout. Dry stouts are another favorite, especially when they are bourbon barrel-aged, which makes me feel “manlier” when I’m ordering it.

Next time you sit at the counter of the local brew house geekily pondering the tap list, skip the IPA, sour whatevers or the saison pale ales. Escape hop-hell and come to the stout side. We have flavor without bitterness!

— Stephanie GallHate itKolsches, lagers, pilsners, pales, IPAs, even those pushy reds: While each does its own thing, they all have qualities similar to the next. But – how to say this – they all taste like beer. Stout, on the other hand, and its dirty, neighborhood ne’er-do-well of a friend, porter, taste like something else altogether, like some fool left out a cuppa cheap coffee, rancid cocoa, expired Kahlua, flat Pepsi and mediocre brown ale overnight and then mixed them together haphazardly and called it beer.

I have been known to tolerate a stout or two at a time – Santa Fe’s Java Stout is at the very top of my list and my beloved brother, a stout-first-kinda-guy, says Carver’s has the best stout he’s ever tasted. However, I can only appreciate about 4 ounces at a time of even the best.

I like beers that are light (in color) and bright, citrusy and juicy. I like summer and sun, crisp and refreshing, beers you can down after a long bike ride or pour down while floating the river. Stouts are dark and opaque, brown and black, heavy and – to me – the ugly, misbehaving offspring of sour and bitter.

As I do, I’ll give a stout a go every couple months, just to make sure I’m current with my hatred. And, believe me, as a beer lover, I would absolutely love to love stout. Until then, stout, stay outta my mouth.

— David Holub


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