November 8, 2012 is International Stout Day

It’s coming… Thursday, November 8th is International Stout Day. A day when beer drinkers from across the globe raise a glass in honor of the rich, thick, creamy, roasty, smokey, dark brews that make up this iconic style of beer.

What I like to refer to as “chocolate milk for grown-ups”, the first stouts were produced in the 1730s. The term stout, meaning “strong”, became common in London during the 18th century to describe strong porters, typically with an abv of 7 or 8%. Today, stouts are often considered a style in their own right, separate from porters, and divided into several variations.

Originally an English style of stout, Milk Stouts, are a type of Sweet Stout, derived from the use of lactose, or milk sugar, as a sweetener. Dark, sweet, full-bodied, and slightly roasty, Left Hand Milk Stout and Southern Tier 2X Milk Stout are both popular examples of the style.

Generally between sweet and dry stouts in sweetness, Oatmeal Stouts have become a popular style in American craft beer culture. Full-bodied, roasty, and malty, the added oats can also add a nutty, grainy or earthy flavor. Dark grains combine with malt sweetness to give the impression of milk chocolate or coffee with cream. Samuel Smith, Wolaver’s Oatmeal Stout, and Southern Tier Oat (an Imperial Oatmeal Stout), are my recommendations for this style.

Then there’s the Russian Imperial Stout, a big, intense, black ale. Dark fruit flavors, like raisin or prunes, blend with roasty, burnt, sometimes tarlike sensations, and a noticeable alcohol presence. Originally brewed to high gravity and hopping level in England for export to the Baltic States and Russia, the style is said to have been popular with the Russian Imperial Court. More recently, the R.I.S. has become a popular style with American craft brewers, with famous examples, Three Floyd’s Dark Lord and Kate The Great by Portsmouth Brewery, becoming cult favorites among those who enjoy aging, collecting, and trading craft beer.

Stouts are my go-to style during the long, cold Winter months. Let ‘em warm up a bit while you sit with friends and enjoy the rich creamy flavors and good conversation. Another way to enjoy a good stout is with dessert! Order a Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout, or a Great Divide Yeti with a piece of flourless chocolate cake and be amazed at how the flavors work together. Or try adding a scoop of vanilla or coffee ice cream to your stout for a decadent beer float! If you’ve never paired beer with dessert, stouts are an easy match. So this Thursday, raise a glass with me and thousands of people around the world as we celebrate the dark side… and if you’re on Untappd, don’t forget to check in and get the International Stout Day badge!