Another year has gone by and it is time to celebrate a unique and a personal favourite beer style: the stout.
I have to say that when I first got into beer my only knowledge of stouts was the world-famous Guinness. As a kid I was always intrigued that an alcoholic beverage looked like a Coca-Cola and many times I made the stupid mistake of drinking a sip from my old man’s glass hopping it tasted like coke. Of course, it didn’t.
When I was already within the legal drinking age, I barely drank stouts, especially due to my memory of Guinness not tasting like coke and went for bitter ales. But slowly the mystery of stouts intrigued me, a pitch-black drink, with roasted smells and silky bodies caught my attention. My first love was Young’s Double Chocolate Stout. It was just the perfect combination, chocolate and beer, what more could I ask for! Its body was so smooth and creamy, it was sweet and warming and so easy to drink. This was the start of a magical relationship with stouts.
Coming from Chile, it was not easy to get my hands on stouts but every time something popped up, I would give it a try. It took many years to see international beers on the market that offered something crazy and attractive to my eyes and mouth. My second love towards stouts came when I tried Anderson Valley’s Oatmeal stout aged in Wild Turkey Bourbon Barrels, this was too good to be true! A stout with Bourbon notes and aroma, my God was I in heaven! It was probably the most expensive beer I had ever tried back then but it was completely worth the money. After this, there was no turning back, I needed to navigate the seas of the stouts and conquer as many beers that my palate could handle.
My third romance with stouts came when I discovered Imperial Stouts. This was just a mind-blowing experience, I was able to grab a bottle of Mikkeller Black, a beer clocking at 17% ABV, “this is insane” I thought, “this was more than wine”. How would I drink this black beauty? Well, I took it slow and with every sip I fell under its mysterious spell, the malts, the aromas and the booziness created an experience that I had never lived. I was drunk but in love. It was goodnight after that but boy did I want more.
4 years have passed since I met Imperial Stouts and they have become a favourite at every beer tasting or session that I do. It’s a beer style that I love to end my night with, it’s my dessert and it’s my philosophical beer, I love warming it up, smelling it and enjoying like a good whiskey. It is truly a ritual when I drink a stout and I don’t have the same feelings when I drink another beer style. It’s a beer that I sometimes would recommend to drink on your own and just with your thoughts.
I am excited of how the craft beer world has expanded the style adding so many beautiful ingredients; vanilla or coffee beans, chilli, chocolate, marshmallows, blueberries, coconut, etc. and ageing in various liquor or wine barrels. Of course, some are a hit and miss but some breweries have really nailed the combination of these flavours and aroma. My favourite are still the heavy ones and aged in bourbon barrels.
So today, I raise a toast to the darkest and to the mysterious Stout, who in the end has brought sweetness and relaxation to many beer lovers out there! Happy international stout day to you all!