Stout of the Irish
Is there anything more Irish in the beer world than the Irish Stout? Other than a Leprechaun drinking said Irish Stout, the answer is a resounding "N-O!" We all think we know what a Stout is, but do we really? The word Stout as it applies to beer was originally a general term for a strong dark beer (Mmmmm). Stouts have an impressive range from chocolaty and smooth, to bitter and intense.
Today, since the grand day of beer (St. Patrick's Day) 'tis just o'er yonder, we're focused on the Irish Stout as opposed to other sweet, milk, oatmeal, imperial or chocolate varieties. Often found on nitrogen taps at pubs because it benefits from a creamy mouthfeel and a dense head, too many people turn away from the Irish Stout because they think it's too heavy or too high in alcohol; others feel a sense of overwrought pride because they are "man enough" to drink this dark beer.
Most people don't realize that Irish Stouts aren't particularly high in alcohol and aren't particularly heavy or bitter. These are all misconceptions. The truth is that the Irish Stout Guinness is in fact as low in alcohol, and often lower, than a Pale Ale. And, this may come as a shock, but in the realm of Stouts and Porters, Guinness is actually considered "light." (gasp, it's true!)
Irish Stouts tend to be on the dryer side of the Stout spectrum and can sometimes have a light, woody hoppy bitterness. They are rich in color (duh) and can have notes of coffee and toffee and hints of chocolate and smoke. The more intense Irish Stouts can range from sweet to bitter chocolate or even a wee bit sour.
Try some of these delicious and dry Irish Stouts:
Dragoons Dry Irish Stout
Moylans Brewery – Novato, CA
Dry, roasty and incredibly rich in flavor, Dragoons Dry Irish Stout is made with a unique blend of imported hops and malted barley from the United Kingdom. This award winning stout is brewed in the Irish tradition to commemorate General Stephen Moylan, Irish-born commander of the 4th Continental Dragoons during the American Revolutionary War. 8% ABV.
Guinness Extra Stout
Guiness Ltd – Ireland (and all over)
The most ubiquitous of all Irish Stouts, this beer is dark, rich and creamy, yet light-bodied and dry with notes of roasted grains, dark chocolate and coffee. Usually found on nitro taps in pubs or with a nitro widget in the can, we prefer this beer au natural out of the glass bottle. 5% ABV
Victory Brewing Company – Downingtown, PA
Available on tap on the East Coast, this amazingly light dark beer will take you back to Dublin, even if you've never been there. Low alcohol and roasted barley keep it clean and flavorful. The subtle earthiness harmonize with the roasted barley with a hint of peat. An impressive head and silken body of a classic stout. 3.7% ABV.