From lagers to porters, every beer drinker knows their favorite style. But in the winter, those tastes often tend toward a heavier brew so bars and liquor stores tend to stock more stouts.
“You really only need one to forget about how cold it is outside because they’re higher in alcohol,” said Melanie Iaconelli, Beer Consultant for Binny’s Beverage Depot. “But I think most of all it’s the flavors that make them a winter seasonal, flavors like vanilla, chocolate, coffee and cinnamon and spices. I mean those are all warming and comforting flavors.”
Stouts are a bold, full-bodied dark beer, which can contain so many ingredients it’s hard to find two similar tastes. Many are high in alcohol content, around 7% compared to the average 5%, with some Russian Imperial stouts even coming close to 20%. So checking the alcohol by volume ratio is key.
In search of my own favorite stout, I headed over to Binny’s for some guidance.
First up, a milk stout. This beer uses un-fermentable lactose sugar to keep the sweetness in the drink, making it a perfect choice for dinner or dessert.
“The next one is Firestone Velvet Merlin, this is a seasonal one from them and it’s an oatmeal stout so they add oatmeal to it, it’s going to give it a nutty flavor also the very smoothness from the oatmeal,” said Iaconelli.
This stout has a lower alcohol content than the first, making it ideal to drink with every day meals.
And last on the menu, an imperial stout, a full-bodied beer with more hops and a liquorish after taste.
“There’s so much you can do with a stout. This is just the basic flavors but there’s stouts, I mean you can add fruit to them, you can add fruit, bourbon, age them in bourbon barrels, there’s endless things you can do with a stout and that’s what makes them so unique and fun,” Iaconelli said.
My top pick, the Milk Stout and if you have a favorite, now’s the time to get it, as certain stouts are only available seasonally.
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