Dark Rich Taste of Stout Beer: varieties to pair with food and dessert
by Jeesue Kim 9/2/14
Originally, the adjective stout meant “proud” or “brave”, but later, after the 14th century, it took on the connotation of “strong”. The first known use of the word stout for beer was in a document dated 1677 as a reference to strong beer. The expression stout porter was applied during the 18th century to strong versions of porter, and was used by Guinness of Ireland in 1820. In the 19th century, the beer gained its customary black color through the use of black patent malt, and became stronger in flavor.
The slogan “Guinness is good for you” was thought up after market research in the 1920s suggested that people felt better after a pint, and post-operative patients, blood donors, pregnant women and nursing mothers in England were advised to drink Guinness.
Dry or Irish stout: dry, dark and light
Irish stout or dry stout is very dark or rich in color and it often has a “roasted” or coffee-like taste. The most well known is Guinness. There are also some smaller breweries producing stout. The alcoholic content and “dry” flavor of a dry or Irish stout are both characterized as light.
Milk stout: sweet, full bodied and nutritious
Milk stout (also called sweet or cream stout) contains lactose, a sugar derived from milk. Because lactose cannot be fermented by beer yeast, it adds sweetness, body, and calories to the finished beer. Milk stout was claimed to be nutritious with energizing carbs of pure dairy milk, and was given to nursing mothers, along with other stouts.
Oatmeal stout: smooth and protein rich
Oatmeal stout contains a proportion of oats, normally a maximum of 30%, added during the brewing process. Even though a larger proportion of oats in beer can lead to a bitter or astringent taste, during the medieval period in Europe, oats were a common ingredient in ale, and proportions up to 35% were standard.
There was a revival of interest in using oats during the end of the 19th century, when restorative, nourishing beers, such as the later milk stout, were popular, because of the association of oatmeal porridge with health. Oatmeal later became a staple for breakfast.
In the 20th century many oatmeal stouts contained only a minimal amount of oats, close to only 0.5%. With such a small quantity of oats used, it could have had little impact on the flavor or texture of these beers. In 1970s, Samuel Smith was commissioned to produce a version which soon became the template for other breweries’ versions.
Oatmeal stouts do not usually taste specifically of oats. The smoothness of oatmeal stouts comes from the high content of proteins, lipids (includes fats and waxes), and gums imparted by the use of oats. The gums increase the viscosity and body adding to the sense of smoothness.
Chocolate stout: aromatic with dark chocolate flavor
Chocolate stout is a name brewers sometimes give to certain stouts having a noticeable dark chocolate flavor through the use of darker, more aromatic malt; particularly chocolate malt—a malt that has been roasted until it acquires a chocolate color. Sometimes, the beers are brewed with a small amount of chocolate or chocolate flavoring.
Coffee stout: dark, bitter and dry coffee flavor
Dark roasted malts, such as black patent malt (the darkest roast), can lend a bitter coffee flavor to dark beer. Some brewers like to further emphasize the coffee flavor and add ground coffee. Most examples will be dry and bitter, though others add milk sugar to create a sweet stout which may then be given a name such as Coffee & Cream Stout or just Coffee Cream Stout. Other flavors such as mint or chocolate may also be added in various combinations.
Oyster stout: created to pair with oysters
Oysters have had a long association with stout. When stouts were emerging in the 18th century, oysters were a commonplace food often served in public houses and taverns, as in the well known Vermeer painting. By the 20th century, oyster beds were in decline, and stout had given way to pale ale.
The first known brewery to use oysters as part of the brewing process of stout was in 1938 by the Hammerton Brewery in London, UK. The brewery was re-established in 2014 and is once again brewing an Oyster Stout. Modern oyster stouts may be made with a handful of oysters in the barrel. Others, such as Marston’s Oyster Stout, use the name with the implication that the beer would be suitable for drinking with oysters.