Stout is the name of a family of beer that are characterized by a highly roasted malt profile, a thick, creamy texture, fairly high alcohol, and a slightly bitter flavor profile that is more from the roast of the malt than an overt hops character.
While the term Stout to describe a strong beer has existed since 1677, it was first used in a modern sense to describe the strongest (highest alcohol) Porters, a style of dark beer that were popular with river and street porters in London. Guinness is probably the best known Stout, having been brewed since the 1840's at the St. James Gate brewery in Dublin, Ireland.
There are a few subcategories of Stout that are important to mention:
- Irish (Dry) Stout -- these have a burnt, coffee or toast-like drying edge to the finish. Guinness is a good example.
- Imperial (Russian) Stout -- Originally brewed in England to export to Russia, these have a high alcohol content to stop them from freezing in cold weather.
- Milk Stout -- Brewed with lactose (milk sugar), which is unfermentable by beer yeast. The lactose passes through fermentation, lending a creamy sweetness to the finished beer. These were once seen as nourishing, and were given to nursing mothers. The Left Hand brewery makes a good example.
- Chocolate (and Coffee) Stout -- Sometimes brewed with coffee or chocolate, these Stouts are meant to mimic the flavors of coffee or chocolate.
- Oyster Stout -- Originally, a Stout meant to be drunk as an accompanyment to oysters. Some brewers actually use oysters in the brewing process. Marston's makes an Oyster Stout.
- Oatmeal Stout -- Brewed with oats as part of the grain bill. Oats can leave a bitter flavor in the finished beer, so many producers only use a small amount. This style was extinct by the mid-1970's, but was brought back at the request of Charles Finkel, owner of the beer importer Marchant du Vin, by the Samuel Smith brewery.
Some popular cocktails containing Stout
- Smoke 'n Choke — Stout, Cynar, Scotch, Chocolate bitters, Whole egg, Brown sugar coffee syrup
- Praying Mantis — Branca Menta, Stout, Dark Crème de Cacao, Amaro, Mint Bitters, Whole egg
- Bernard Black — Stout, Bourbon, Averna, Pedro Ximénez Sherry, Triple sec, Aztec Chocolate bitters, Orange
- Billy Dawson's Punch c.1863 — Dominican Rum, Cognac, Stout, Batavia Arrack, Water, Demerara sugar, Lemon juice, Lemon, Nutmeg
- Rabbit Fernet Coat — Stout, Fernet Branca