It’s Fall, Time to Celebrate the Savory, Rich Dark Beer Known as the Stout

Types of Stout Beers

Imperial Stout

Often referred to as the Russian Imperial Stout, the Imperial stout is meant for those who are looking for a hearty, strong and intense beer. This stout was originally brewed for Catherine the Great of Russia to help satisfy her thirst for dark beer. With an ABV of 10 percent and above, this powerful brew is black in color with a taste reminiscent of a blend of chocolate, raisins, expresso, among others. Since brewers use a good amount of malt to craft this beer, you’ll be quick to note a rather light, malt sweetness. Some prime examples of the Imperial Stout are:

  • Stone Russian Imperial Stout
  • Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout
  • Founders Breakfast Stout

American Imperial Stout

Made for those looking for a heavier stout with an ABV of 7.0 to 12.0 percent, the first thing you’ll notice is its higher alcohol content. American Imperial stouts only include those imperial stouts that have been brewed stateside. This opaque, dark, almost black stout arose from the UK, has a medium to high hop flavor, and hop aroma that often favors an herbal, floral or citrus scent. As for flavor, be prepared to experience a beverage rich with malt. Common ingredients include Pale, chocolate, and black roasted barley. You’ll find this stout goes great with a variety of foods, and flavors can be experienced to the maximum if served at 50 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit, in a glass snifter. Excellent examples of the American stout are:

  • Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout
  • Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout
  • Deschutes The Abyss

Oatmeal Stout

When oatmeal is added to a stout, the result is a smooth-bodied, moderately bitter, creamy beer, dark brown to jet black, without a hint of bitterness, known as an oatmeal stout. The aroma is definitely that of a roasted barley. and the alcohol content ranges from 3.8 to 6.1 percent. As for a hop aroma, you’ll note little if any scent, and only the smallest bit of flavor. Crafted with up to 20 percent oats, this complex, savory brew may also contain, black roasted barley, chocolate, and Kent Goldings hops. Some oatmeal stouts to consider trying include:

  • Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout
  • Anderson Valley Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout
  • Summit Brewing Company Oatmeal Stout

Irish Style Dry Stout

Best served at a room temperature of 50 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit, this popular stout was brought to the public’s attention by Arthur Guinness in the late 1700’s. Like the rest of it’s stout siblings, it’s dark brown in color, almost leaning to an opaque to clear, pitch black. When poured, you’ll notice a rich, thick and creamy tan head rise to the top, giving off an aroma of roasty, espresso-like scents. The signature head is the result of using nitrogen gas taps, which create the tiny bubbles. Made for people looking for a dry roasted flavor minus the sweetness, the dry stout has an ABV or 4.2 to 5.3 percent, and also includes flaked barley, and black roasted

barley as ingredients. Good examples of the Irish style dry stout include:

  • Nitro Dry Irish Stout
  • Sin City Stout
  • Arbor Brewing Mackinac Island Fudge Stout

Sweet Stout

Also known as a milk stout or sweet cream stout, sweet stouts get their name from the added ingredient of un-fermentable lactose sugar. Perfect for those who prefer the sweet to bitter, this opaque, black stout saw its beginning in the early 1900’s England. Traditionally, lower in alcohol than other stouts, sometimes as low as 2 percent – ABV, todays sweet stouts often carry a higher alcohol content of 3.2 to 6.3 percent ABV. Sweet stouts are often flavored with coffee, chocolates and other ingredients to create the popular pastry stout. Please note, that if you’re lactose intolerant, this is not the beer for you. Some fun sweet stouts to try are:

  • Urban Chestnut Brewing Company Cherry Thrale’s
  • Odell Brewing Company Lugene Chocolate Milk Stout
  • Stone Brewing Mint Coffee Milk Stout

Coffee Stout

For those who prefer their stouts dark and more bitter than most, there is the coffee stout. By pairing these two favorite beverage flavors, craft beer brewers created a beer which offers its customers the best of both worlds. Here, the coffee bean is considered a beer adjunct, which means that it’s added to the original brewing recipe. Malted barley, hops, yeast and water are the base point for the beer, with the coffee flavor being the adjunct, and enhances the basic ingredients of the batch. Highly rated coffee stouts are as follows:

  • Four Peaks Brewing Company Sirius Black
  • Left Hand Bittersweet Nitro
  • Cerebral Peace Be the Journey

Dessert or Pastry Stouts

Like the coffee stout, the dessert or pastry stout gets their unique flavor from adding beer adjuncts to the basic 4 original ingredients. These are the stouts which incorporate words such as German chocolate cake, cupcake, and cookie, to name a few. You’re not just getting a beer with a few chocolate sprinkles tossed on. No way. Instead, you’re getting the flavor of a liquid dessert in a bottle, as intended. Much different than your standard, bitter stout, these are designed to mimic the exact dessert they’re named after. If they don’t, the brewery doesn’t consider the batch a successful one. There is a huge plethora of pastry stouts from which to choose, but these should give you a good idea:

  • Imperial Doughnut Break
  • Saskatoon Cheesecake Stout
  • Terrapin’s Wake-n-Bake


There you have it, an introduction to the strong, dark beer known as stout. Made with roasted barley, this beer is a favorite during the cold, wintry months as well as a regular compliment with after dinner desserts. While Guinness is the most well known stout, a host of other breweries such as Samuel Adams, Sierra Nevada and a large number of craft breweries also craft stouts. Stouts figure prominently in food pairings, cooking and the much loved niche called Pastry Stouts. With such a rich variety of offerings, ranging from the bitter to the sweet, it pays for the beer aficionado to prepare to indulge themselves, to immerse their taste buds into the flavorful world of the stout beer.

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