Light colored stouts? Drinking warm beer? We’re breaking down common myths about stouts Mythbusters style!
December is here; the nights are getting downright chilly, the holidays are right around the corner, and you know what that means: it’s Stout Season!!!
Stouts have a lot of very specific, categorical characteristics that make them pretty easy to identify, yet somehow they still find themselves a bit misunderstood and controversial (okay, maybe not super controversial, but they do get judged on their appearance and that’s just not fair). So today, we’re taking a look at some of the most common thoughts and rumors about stouts and determining if they are true or false. Welcome to Mythbusters: Stout Edition!
Up first: Stouts are all super heavy!
While many stouts do tend to have a reputation for leaving you feeling heavy and full compared to other beer styles, and for being quite high on the ABV scale, like Alesmith’s famous (and amazing) Speedway Stout (12% ABV!!), for example, there are a lot of other styles within the stout style that are the complete opposite. Milk, sweet, and oatmeal stouts tend to be on the creamy, bready side, and generally, pretty light tasting. Irish stouts are normally very dry and light, while still having a well-rounded, full taste profile. These styles are usually well under 8% ABV, with most of the Irish and milk stouts clocking in at around 5% ABV. That’s pretty light for any craft beer style.
Round 2: All dark beers are stouts (and all stouts are dark beers)
Let’s take this one in two parts; first, all dark beers are stouts. Well, that one is pretty easy to debunk. Porters are a different style of beer, but are still dark in color. They do get lumped in with stouts a lot of the time, because they have some shared characteristics in brewing and taste that make them look and sometimes taste a bit similar, but be sure they are different. There are also Brown Ales, a variety of bocks that have a range of colors, Black lager and IPAs, and more. So part one: BUSTED.
Part two: all stouts are dark beers, is a little bit trickier. We know there are different styles of stouts, including some lighter tasting, lighter ABV ones, but stouts that are light in color?? Does that exist?
Yes! There is such thing as a golden stout; the golden color coming from the lighter, more bready, biscuit flavored malt used in the brewing process. There is a truly exemplary Golden Milk Stout by Nobel Ale Works called Naughty Sauce! If you’re interest in checking out this unique style, it’s definitely worth checking out, especially if you can find it on nitro!
Next: Stouts should be enjoyed at room temperature
Historically, this is how beer was consumed… then again, there wasn’t really an available alternative. Some people still (mistakenly) think that all beer in the UK is served at room temperature. Modern technology, standards, logic, etc. has ensured that when the cold box is working right and the lines are clean, our beers are all ideally being poured at a chilly 38°F.
There may be something to this rumor though. Stouts (and porters) actually do benefit from a bit of time to warm up. Much like wine needs to breathe, whiskey to decant, these styles of beer only open up more as they warm up. The more complex flavors tend to come to life as the temperature regulates, reaching its peak at what is referred to as “cellar temperature” which is around 50°-55°F. Do a taste test for yourself: grab a cold stout right out of the fridge. Take a sip right away. Then wait 5 to 10 minutes and try it again. Chances are it will be much more dynamic the second time around.
To be clear, we are not recommending drinking warm beer! Just not… super, super cold beer… and only for stouts and porters.
Final round: Stouts are all coffee and/or chocolate flavored
Between the coffee beans used to create signature flavors and the use darker malts that are the hallmark of this brewing style, these are incredibly prominent flavors for stouts, and most tend to fall into one of the two categories, if not both.
That said, we’ve already talked about different styles of stouts, like Irish, milk, oatmeal, and even golden that come across anywhere from creamy, biscuity, and bready, to dry and light-bodied, due to their specific malt profiles. They are distinguishable for sure, but not a coffee or specifically chocolate dessert flavor.
And then, of course, there are the adventurous stouts; the Belching Beaver’s Mexican Chocolate Peanut Butter concoction (and other variations), and pretty much everything at Ballast Point’s Victory at Sea Day (happening Dec 17th all locations), but even those still have a coffee or chocolately backbone to them, so really this one could be debated endlessly and go either way.
Verdict: PLAUSIBLE- largely true overall, but not without a few exceptions.
Bonus: Stouts are only good in the winter
Now, we did start this blog off saying it was finally Stout Season, and we stand behind that!
But that doesn’t mean they aren’t available and should be neglected throughout the rest of the year. There’s actually an incredibly well-known, popular stout that actually gets most attention in March… Guinness ring a bell? What would St. Patty’s Day be without a Guinness? There are also all the lighter styles we talked about earlier. Sometimes a nice dry Irish stout, or a Golden Stout on nitro is just what that spring day calls for.
We’re here for you no matter what style you crave, or what time of year it is! Check out our selection of stouts here and be sure to show off your newfound stout knowledge to all your friends this season!