It’s International Stout Day, so go grab yourself a pint of something dark and tasty and raise a glass to all stouts worldwide. Following on from International Stress Awareness Day yesterday, a day for a few drinks seems only sensible, and it shares the date in the diary with sandwich day, so grab yourself one of the best sandwiches in London whilst you are at it to round out a full day’s day of appreciation.
Stouts are, as far as beers go, relatively modern. Going back to the 1700s, dark roasted beers were very popular amongst the workers of London around the marketplaces, the porters who woke early and worked late shifting heavy stuff to-and-fro, who needed a big heavy drink to satisfy them on the go – hence the beer being named a porter. The word ‘stout’ carries the connotations of being fat, heavy, strong and thick. Whilst calling someone a stout fellow isn’t the nicest thing, a stout porter certainly is. A thicker, fuller variety of porter became common place towards the end of the 1700s and early 1800s. Over the last 300 or so years stouts have grown and developed into a very own delicious brew unto themselves with a wide range of stouts available.
If I asked you to think of a stout, I am sure the first thing that comes to your mind will be a pint of Guinness draft. Entirely unsurprising, given Guinness has breweries across the world, servicing over 150 countries making 20 different variants of beers. Of course, Guinness is an Irish stout that has an incredibly long and rich history of brewing and innovation. Nitrogenated Irish stouts start with Guinness, as does that little widget in the canned variety. There’s not just Guinness and Irish Stouts out there.
Oatmeal stouts are brewed with, quite obviously, oatmeal. The difference this gives to that classic Guinness style stout you imagined earlier, is a slightly sweeter taste, with a thicker body and smooth texture. A more viscous and sweetly delicious stout. A stouter stout. A sweeter stout. If you are in the market for an oatmeal stout to celebrate international stout day, we recommend popping down to your nearest Sam Smith’s pub as their oatmeal stout on tap is probably one of the best you can get in the UK.
Oysters and stouts are a classic combination going back to the times of Disraeli. Now you even get oyster stouts, with the briny little buggers thrown in to the beer, sometimes entirely, sometimes just the shell. These oyster stouts are more about the name than the taste – as the roast and taste of the classic stout tends to overpower the additional oyster. We recommend sticking to just oysters and stouts separately, at places like Wright Brothers, so grab a stout and eat an oyster today to celebrate.
Imperial stouts have a history that ties England with Russia. An adaption of the old stout porters to please the Russian Czar led to these stronger stouts imbued with more hops shipped over to Russia, which pack an even greater alcoholic punch being developed. Typically hovering between 8% and 12% ABV, they should be drunk moderately and appreciated fully. They have a stronger, bitter taste which is punctuated by those hoppier notes. See if you can find yourself a can of Beavertown Spresso, a favourite Imperial of ours combining coffee notes from Caravan and a stout punch to the gut. If you are after a non-Russian style Imperial, check out Buxton Brewery’s Yellow Belly, the best of British imperials.
Sweet and milk stouts are like that classic style Guinness you imagined earlier, but thicker and sweeter again, with more sugar left over from the brewing process sitting in the beer. They typically come with a smooth, chocolate sweetness, resulting in a luxuriously smooth and velvety beer. They aren’t the most popular type of stout out there, but if you fancy one for international stout day, maybe grab yourself a Millionaire by The Wild Beer Co. Maybe you could have a milk stout after another stout and just call it desert?
How are you going to celebrate International Stout Day? Will it be a Guinness? Will it be something different or will it be all of the above?