Despite our 70 degree winters, it’s officially stout season. In a world where IPAs reign supreme nearly year-round, there’s nothing better than sitting down at night and pouring yourself a pint of something dark and viscous.
We’ve made it to December -- The time of year where we procrastinate on holiday shopping, spend way too much time with family, and still have to wear shorts and sandals because we live in Southern California.
Despite our 70 degree winters, it’s officially stout season. In a world where IPAs reign supreme nearly year-round, there’s nothing better than sitting down at night and pouring yourself a pint of something dark and viscous. No more of this “single-hop” or “hazy” stuff, just good ol’ dark malt.
Now, that’s not to say stouts aren’t complex. With the ever-growing expansion of barrel-aging programs and the growing popularity of vanilla, coffee, chocolate and other things added to stouts, there’s something out there for everyone. Whether you like the root bitterness of a Russian Imperial Stout, the hint of sweetness of a milk stout, or the boozy deliciousness of anything left in a bourbon barrel for months on end, the right stout for you exists, and there’s no better time than now to find it.
Let’s start small. There’s a ton of options these days in 12-ounce bottles and cans. And before you say, “I don’t like beer out of a can”, consider that it’s way better for the beer, for the consumer, and for the environment. Cans don’t have that aluminum taste they used to, and with stouts, you’re mostly drinking out of a glass anyways.
Anyway, breweries like Bell’s and Founders are sending stuff over from the midwest, while SoCal locals like Stone, Barley Forge, Ballast Point and AleSmith also have numerous options for affordable, great tasting stouts. Stone’s Xocoveza, Barely Forge’s The Patsy, Ballast Point’s The Commodore, and AleSmith’s Speedway Stout are all stouts in smaller formats that I’d happily take home any day.
A big trend lately is stouts infused with things like coffee, vanilla, chocolate and more. I’m all aboard the trend, particularly vanilla and coffee. In addition, a lot of these go hand in hand with bourbon barrel aging, adding another fun component to the beer. A few years ago, beers like Goose Island’s Vanilla Rye Bourbon County (pre-buyout) really got the vanilla train rolling, while things like Bottle Logic’s Fundamental Observation have continued to grow the popularity and take the bourbon barrel aged imperial vanilla stout to new heights. After the explosion of those two beers, it seems everyone makes a vanilla stout now.
Coffee is the other big addition that’s taken off in the last few years. Even just a few weeks ago I got Fremont’s Bourbon Barrel-Aged Dark Star into the store, an amazing beer in itself, but also received the coffee version, an even more sought-after variant. I tried it last week and was amazed, and I’m not even a coffee drinker. So do yourself a favor and come in and try some of these cool variants of already amazing stouts. I’m happy to help find the right one for your taste.
BeerVenture Stout Tasting January 25th 2018
With all this said, our monthly beer tasting that we call a BeerVenture, will return in January on Wednesday the 25th. The theme will be Stouts and Porters, perfect for the (hopefully) cool January weather. I’ve already began stockpiling the best stouts and porters I have available, including barrel-aged goodness. Reservations are open now, and if you missed out on the last tasting because it filled up, reserve your spot now so you won’t miss out on this awesome lineup.
I look forward to seeing you soon and finding some great beers for this holiday season. Cheers!