Last summer, I thoroughly enjoyed taste-testing a bunch of delicious summer brews, now as the weather turns cold I’m eager to do it again! Beer and Brewing recently posted a list of 21 Winter Stouts and I’ve taken upon myself to try some of them to determine my favorite stout. I couldn’t procure all 21 of them, so I added some of the best stouts from my neck of the woods – the southeast. Before you go home for the holidays, pick up some of these delicious stouts!
Brooklyn – Black Chocolate Stout New York is home to some expert brewers. Brooklyn Brewery is one of them. This stout is really good! It’s a little heavy, but also smooth and a perfect dose of milk. The chocolate namesake is subtle with other flavors but nothing overwhelming, just good beer. The 10.0% ABV is higher than most, but you wouldn’t know it just by the taste. Tread lightly! Brooklyn’s Chocolate Stout is one of the best stouts that I tried. I’m eager to try other brews from the Brooklyn Brewery.
Stone – Xocoveza Originating from a Stone Brewery home brewing contest, Xocoveza is a unique and deliciously complex stout with “mexican hot chocolate” spices. It begins with a slight coffee aroma then follows with several complimentary flavors. The ABV of 8.1% will sneak up on you. After finishing this taste test I immediately wanted to buy more Xocoveza.
Left Hand – Milk Stout Nitro The only nitrogen-infused stout that I tried, this Left Hand offering is delightfully smooth – typical for nitros. This stout is not as complex as others, with just a mild coffee taste and a little sweetness and dairy. The 6.0% ABV is on the low end for stouts but still formidable. Overall, a nice selection although I prefer traditional carbonation and more complex flavors.
Sierra Nevada – Narwhal Imperial Stout This stout has some bite. Unlike the Brooklyn stout, the 10.2% ABV in the Narwhal is quite noticeable. The bitterness is complemented by moderate carbonation and a pleasant chocolate flavor. A good beer, but, as far as imperial stouts go I prefer Old Rasputin.
Ommegang – Lovely, Dark and Deep This oatmeal stout is a little lighter bodied than the others. The lower ABV (5.3%) makes this stout very drinkable. A healthy dose of carbonation makes it mildly refreshing too. “Lovely, Dark and Deep” is very woodsy with a hint of roasted coffee beans. Like many of Ommegang’s brews, this stout is very good and highly recommended.
Bell’s – Kalamazoo Stout This stout is a little tart with a touch of licorice and similar undertones to other stouts. Kalamazoo Stout has a moderate 6.0% ABV and mild carbonation. The tartness makes it less drinkable. It’s a pretty good stout but not my favorite. I’m a bigger fan of Bell’s other brews like Two Hearted and Oberon. I haven’t tried it yet, but from what I hear Bell’s Expedition is a killer stout (with a hefty price tag).
Old Rasputin – Russian Imperial Stout Old Rasputin is a delectable stout without any overwhelming flavors. It has a solid 9.0% ABV and just a little bitterness to remind you that you are drinking beer after all. This stout is balanced with a mild chocolate flavor. It’s crisp and smooth with moderate carbonation. A very enjoyable stout!
Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Stout This yummy drinkable stout is only slightly carbonated with an 8.0% ABV. It has a strong oak flavor (hence the barrel namesake) and a little sweet chocolate with a hint of caramel. This stout’s after taste leaves you wanting more. However, I prefer the Brooklyn stout. Barely.
Red Brick – Chai Spice Milk Stout This unique beer’s strong aroma of spices distracts from what’s a pretty good beer (6.0% ABV). I would like it more if the tea and spices were taken down just a notch, which would make it more drinkable. As it is, the flavors are pleasant, but have a cumulative effect that gets old by the time the first can is empty.
Terrapin – Wake-N-Bake Stout This coffee oatmeal imperial stout has a sweet aroma. Then, a nice blend of flavors settles in with coffee being the strongest of them. Wake-N-Bake is a balanced beer with some sweetness. There’s a slight carbonation and a fairly high 9.4% ABV. The coffee taste is somewhat cumulative. It builds with every sip until you’re ready for something different. I like stouts and coffee a lot, but prefer them to be separate.
I may not have tried 21 stouts, like beerandbrewing.com did, but I found some gems in this batch of 10! I think the best stouts are the delights from Stone, Brooklyn and Old Rasputin. The other stouts are delicious in their own way, but these three are particularly enjoyable. Grab them before you head home or on your way to a holiday party. You won’t be disappointed!