Stout is a dark beer made using roasted malt or roasted barley, hops, water and yeast. Stouts were traditionally the generic term for the strongest or stoutest porters, typically 7% or 8%, produced by a brewery. The first known use of the word stout for beer was in a document dated 1677 found in the Egerton Manuscript, the sense being that a stout beer was a strong beer, not a dark beer. The name porter was first used in 1721 to describe a dark brown beer that had been made with roasted malts. Because of the huge popularity of porters, brewers made them in a variety of strengths. The beers with higher gravities were called "stout porters", so the history and development of stout and porter are intertwined, and the term stout has since become firmly associated with dark beer, rather than just strong beer.
Types of stout
Dry or Irish stout
Irish stout or dry stout (in Irish, leann dubh, "black beer") is very dark or rich in color, and it often has a roasted or coffee-like taste. The most famous example is Guinness, followed by Murphy's and Beamish. The alcoholic content and dry flavor of a dry or Irish stout are both characterised as light, although it varies by country and brewery.
Imperial stout is a strong, dark beer in the style that was brewed in the 18th century by Thrale's brewery in London, England for export to the court of Catherine II of Russia. In 1781, the brewery changed hands, and the beer became known as Barclay Perkins Imperial Brown Stout. When the brewery was taken over by Courage, the beer was renamed Courage Russian Imperial Stout (RIS). Imperial stouts have a high alcohol content, usually over 8% ABV.
Milk stout (also called sweet stout or cream stout) is a stout containing lactose, a sugar derived from milk. Because lactose is unfermentable by beer yeast, it adds sweetness, body, and calories to the finished beer. The classic surviving example of milk stout is Mackeson's, for which the original brewers claimed that "each pint contains the energizing carbohydrates of 10 ounces of pure dairy milk". In the period just after the Second World War when rationing was in place, the British government required brewers to remove the word "milk" from labels and advertisements, and any imagery associated with milk.
Oatmeal stout is a stout with a proportion of oats, normally a maximum of 30%, added during the brewing process. Even though a larger proportion of oats in beer can lead to a bitter or astringent taste, during the medieval period in Europe, oats were a common ingredient in ale, and proportions of up to 35% were standard. Despite some areas of Europe, such as Norway, still clinging to the use of oats in brewing until the early part of the 20th century, the practice had largely died out by the 16th century, so much so that, in 1513, Tudor sailors refused to drink oat beer offered to them because of the bitter flavor.
Oatmeal stouts do not usually taste specifically of oats. The smoothness of oatmeal stouts comes from the high content of proteins, lipids (including fats and waxes), and gums imparted by the use of oats. The gums increase the viscosity and body adding to the sense of smoothness.
Chocolate stout is a name brewers sometimes give to certain stouts having a noticeable dark chocolate flavor through the use of darker, more aromatic malt, particularly chocolate malt, a malt that has been roasted or kilned until it acquires a chocolate color. Sometimes, as with Muskoka Brewery's Double Chocolate Cranberry Stout, Young's Double Chocolate Stout, and Rogue Brewery's Chocolate Stout, the beers are also brewed with a small amount of chocolate or chocolate flavoring.
Dark roasted malts, such as black patent malt (the darkest roast), can lend a bitter coffee flavor to dark beer. Some brewers like to further emphasize the coffee flavor and add ground coffee. The ABV of these coffee-flavored stouts will vary from under 4% to over 8%. Most examples will be dry and bitter, though others add milk sugar to create a sweet stout which may then be given a name such as Coffee & Cream Stout or just Coffee Cream Stout. Other flavors such as mint or chocolate may also be added in various combinations.
Oysters have had a long association with stout. When stouts were emerging in the 18th century, oysters were a commonplace food often served in public houses and taverns. By the 20th century, oyster beds were in decline, and stout had given way to pale ale.
The first known brewery to use oysters as part of the brewing process of stout was in 1938 by the Hammerton Brewery in London, UK. The brewery was re-established in 2014 and is once again brewing an Oyster Stout.
Modern oyster stouts may be made with a handful of oysters in the barrel, hence the claim of one establishment, the Porterhouse Brewery in Dublin, that their award-winning Oyster Stout was not suitable for vegetarians. Others, such as Marston's Oyster Stout, use the name with the implication that the beer would be suitable for drinking with oysters.
A pastry stout is a stout beer which is brewed to be intentionally sweet with the end goal that the beer mimics the flavor and sometimes the appearance of a dessert. Many breweries who produce pastry stouts will experiment with flavors such as (but not limited to) chocolate, marshmallow, maple syrup, vanilla, and various fruit. The finished product will have the flavor and aroma of popular sweets such as blueberry pancakes, s’mores, donuts, brownies, cake, ice cream and fruit crumble just to name a few.
The creation of the name pastry stout is often credited to be created by the beer blogger Don’t Drink Beer.
Examples include Brewdog’s Layer Cake marshmallow and chocolate stout, Stone Xocoveza’s Xocoveza Mexican hot chocolate stout and Brew York’s Muffin Else Matters muscovado sugar, molasses, blueberry, and vanilla stout.
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