Beer Squared #21: Stouts

Posted: October 27, 2011 in Beer: Stout
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

63, 64, 65, 66, and 67.

We decided that for lager posts, we’ll do five beers and for heavier beers, we’ll do four, but there is far too much beer to plow through right now and we didn’t really have anywhere to go…so we got out five very different stouts and headed upstairs to enjoy them.

Bob: While official beer tasting judges may categorize these stouts into several categories, we chose (due to budget, time and other constraints) to sample all beers labeled stouts together, regardless of alcohol content (imperial, etc.) or composition (oatmeal, bourbon aging, etc.). That certainly makes for a more diverse gouping, but it’s only one reason we found a remarkable range of flavors and effects, with brews differing wildly, in this tasting session. Most differences were due to the brewer’s choices of ingredients and brewing methods. Following our usual method, we sampled these stouts in order of ABV, from lowest to highest.

Murphy’s Stout (4.3% ABV)

Pub Can

Nik: This beer was Spinal Tap black. How could it be any more black? It had a nice, foamy, and creamy head with a wonderful malty aroma. It has a good bitter flavor, but a it’s a bit thin. The Pub Cans had a certain quality to them that’s a bit of a watery taste in the back of the flavor. It has a good bitter finish and the head stays all the way down your glass.

Bob: Poured to a dark brown, opaque color (as do most stouts!), with a creamy tan head that laced nicely on the glass. Welcoming aroma of malt and caramel. The mouthfeel was a little watery and light, not unusual for this low an ABV, but with very tasty burnt grain and bitter hop notes that lasted well into the aftertaste. Altogether a nicely quaffable brew. I could drink several of these in a session without much problem.

Schalfly Oatmeal Stout (5.7% ABV)

Local Entry

Nik: The Oatmeal Stout has a small head full of big bubbles that doesn’t stay around for very long. Again, this beer has the very typical Budweiser aroma. It’s not black like the Murphy’s, but dark brown. This beer has a strong malty flavor and backbone with a strong hop finish. It’s not a traditional stout by any means, but definitely one worth enjoying over and over.

Bob: Like most of the Schlafly offerings we have sampled, and there have been quite a few, this has a big-bubbled head that dissipates quickly. Head retention doesn’t seem to be something Schlafly cares much about. Was a very dark brown color, but not completely opaque. It had a lot more carbonation than the Murphy’s (which came in a draft can), which killed the creaminess I was looking for. Aroma was noticeably hoppy, with very little malt. The taste was hoppy and crisp, with only a very mild “darkness.” This was also a very drinkable beer–it just didn’t remind me much of a stout, and especially of an oatmeal stout, which usually has some silkiness.

North Coast Old No 38 Stout (5.6% ABV)


Nik: This beer oddly had a hint of oatmeal in the aroma. It had a short, tight bubbled head and it was Darth Vader Black. It had an excellent crispness to the beer that gave it a great bite. The flavor had strong hints of roasting to it. Another great beer by North Coast.

Bob: Poured very dark black with a nice tan had. A strong aroma of roasted barley with chocolate overtones. The mouthfeel was a little watery, but the taste continued long after sipping, with an extended finishing tang of chocolate and roastiness that mirrored the initial impressions of the aroma. All in all, a very good offering from the makers of Old Rasputin, one of our favorite stouts. I picked up a six-pack of Old No. 38 at a closeout price, so I’ve got a couple of enjoyable fall evenings to look forward to.

Samuel Smith Imperial Stout (7% ABV)


Nik: Samuel Smith’s Imperial Stout had a sweet and malty aroma with a giant head that fizzled out pretty quickly for its size. This was another very dark black beer. It was ninja assassin black. If it was hiding in the shadows, you wouldn’t see it coming for you. It had a strong roasted caramel malt taste with a bitter bite and a hoppy finish. Even at this level of alcohol, there was no heat to the flavor. I’ll drink this one as often as I can.

Bob: Extremely dark, opaquely black liquid, with a big tan head on pouring, but dissipating quickly due to large bubbles. The aroma is very roasty, with burnt toffee accents. Tastes absolutely wonderful, with complex caramelly and winey flavors and a very long aftertaste. I’m pretty sure I’ll never see a bargain or closeout price on this one, but if I do I’ll buy a few cases and sock it away in the cellar, since it will only improve even more with age. This is one to die for!

Goose Island Bourbon County Stout 2010 (13% ABV)

Bourbon Stout

Nik: I was given this beer back in the summer and we decided to hold onto it until the fall so we could enjoy it in its proper context, and this is the reason why we did stouts on this run. It had no head…nothing, but as soon as I got near it, I could smell the glorious bourbon. Goose Island’s Bourbon Stout has a malty taste and a strong, strong bourbon finish. It was almost like drinking a bourbon drink instead of a beer. I loved this beer.

Bob: Dark and thick in the glass, with little to no head–due no doubt to the extremely high alcohol content. Nose consists mostly of bourbon, as does the taste, tending to overwhelm the few subtle notes of malted barley. Had a very good mouthfeel. This one is definitely for sipping, so I’m glad we had only a single bottle available. My favorite bourbon-barrel stout is still the Schlafly Reserve, which we sampled before starting our formal review notes. We hope to revisit it in the near future to see if it’s as good as we remember.




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