They are visually characterized by their espresso brown to black hue crowned by rich, tan heads. Stouts, which are members of the ale family of beers, are all created from a base of roasted malts, which impart an aroma that is often reminiscent of coffee, bittersweet chocolate or caramel. Stouts are less carbonated than other beer styles. The Beer Judge Certification Program Style Committee guidelines now recognize six styles of stout. Each style has its distinct character, so order up a tasting flight and some friendly food pairings, and treat your palate to a lesson in stouts.
Also known as Irish stout due to its prevalence in Irish pubs, this style has a dry finish that is the result of using roasted barley in the brewing process. Dry stouts are black in color. Having the lowest density of the six styles of stout, dry stouts are not full-bodied. They tend to be lower in alcohol.
Dry stouts pair exceptionally well with the following foods:
- Oysters and other shellfish
- Irish farmhouse cheddar cheeses.
Also known as sweet stouts or cream stouts, milk stouts often contain lactose. Lactose is an unfermentable sugar, which gives the beer a sweet flavor and a smooth and creamy finish. The lactose also provides a more substantial body than that of the dry stout. Milk stouts are black in color and opaque in appearance. The subtle flavor notes of chocolate or coffee that the dark malts infuse into milk stouts marry well with rich desserts, including the following:
- Chocolate cake
- Chocolate mousse
- Mocha gelato
The flavor notes also pair well with Mexican mole sauce dishes.
As the name implies, the oatmeal stout delivers a full body that comes from the addition of oatmeal during the brewing process. The oatmeal is also responsible for the stout's silky texture. Oatmeal stouts should be dark brown to black in color and opaque in appearance.
Oatmeal stouts are ideal accompaniments for creamy desserts, such as the following indulgences:
Foreign Extra Stouts
Foreign export stouts are higher in gravity and in alcohol than the aforementioned stouts. There are two subcategories of this stout style, which are the sweeter, fruiter tropical stouts and the drier and more bitter export stouts.
Pair foreign extra stouts with the following foods:
- Gouda and cheddar cheeses
- Macaroni and cheese
- Pork roasts.
Craft brewers across America have produced hoppy variations of the dry and foreign export stouts by heaping more hops into the brew, contributing a bitterness and citrusy aroma to counter the sweetness of the roasted malts. Some brewers are aging these stouts in burbon or whiskey barrels. Additional ingredients may be incorporated to enhance the chocolate or coffee notes or to create new and unique flavors, such as pumpkin or cherry. American stouts are black in color and range from clear to opaque in appearance.
Enjoy American stouts with the following foods:
- Sharp cheddar
- Grilled or smoked meats
Also known as Russian stouts or Russian Imperial stouts, these beers were originally produced in England for export to Russia, where they were savored by members of the Russian Imperial court. Imperial stouts have the highest alcohol by volume content of all stout styles, lending a warming sensation to the imbiber. At the highest density level of all of the aforementioned stout styles, Imperial stouts deliver a heavy body and a creamy feel, rendering this a sipping beer. Imperial stouts often tend to be dry and carry strong dark fruit flavors and aromas.
Consider the following ideas to enjoy Imperial stout:
- Enjoy it as an accompaniment to a rich dish, such as filet mignon with a creamy Gorgonzola sauce.
- Enjoy it as an ingredient by pouring it into a coffee ice cream float.
Whichever style you choose, stouts are best enjoyed at 50 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit, and they are typically served in tulip glasses or nonic pint glasses.
For more information on craft beers, talk to a professional.