There's something inherently manly about drinking a big ass pint of stout. Even someone like myself who prides himself on not being a beer snob feels a certain sense of superiority when I'm standing in a bar full of "men" drinking Bud Lights while I'm hoisting up a big meaty glass of full on pitch black beer goodness. And by no means do I mean this to be sexist. If you're a gal who enjoys knocking back a few stouts then I solute you and also ask this question. What brand of tampon did you just send your husband/boyfriend out to buy for you?
But for those of you who fear the stout I'm here to tell you there is no reason. Why that pint of Guinness that you're so afraid of is actually only 4.2% ABV, about the same as a Bud Light. And you'll find the calories aren't much different either. But don't worry, for those of you who don't care about keeping your alcohol content low we'll get to you also. Let's begin!
Irish Dry Stout
This is the one we all know and love. It's the Guinness and there' no other way to describe it. Low in carbonation and alcohol this beer is very drinkable which makes it any easy one to impress your friends who don't know any better. There's a pretty decent bite to this style that comes from the roasted barley and a large amount of hops but you don't really get much in the flavor department from the latter.
Joe's Pick: If you've only tried one stout it was probably a Guinness but I really love Portsmouth Breweries Black Cat Stout. It's got a nice coffee flavor and a solid creamy mouthfeel to it that makes it one of my favorites.
So this one negates my point about stouts being low in alcohol as they can reach all the way up to 12%. But then again when you put the word "Imperial" in front of anything you should probably expect to get your ass kicked. But if you can get past the fact that you're going to get black out drunk then you'll find the imperial stout, or double stout as it's sometimes called, is pretty fantastic. A lot of times these are infused with coffee or chocolate which both go nicely with the roasted malt flavor.
Joe's Pick: Go with Southern Tier Brewing Companies Creme Brulee Stout but make sure you bring a shot of insulin. Vanilla bean along with lactose sugar make this one taste almost exactly like the dessert. Split this 22 oz bottle with someone though, learn from my mistakes.
Much like the IPA's that were originally made for long voyages this one is brewed big to handle the long trips across this fine globe of ours. Alcohol content can get up there again, around 9% and you get a ton of roasted flavor here. A nice straight forward stout for the most part and good for those of you who love your Guinness but what more Guinness in your Guinness.
Joe's Pick: Sit down folks we're going to get a little weird. Flying Fish Brewery created their Exit 1 stout by putting Oysters right into the boil. While you'd expect a fishy flavor here you get nothing but rich creamy beer goodness, which comes mostly from the shells. One of my favorites.
Much like you'd expect this style actually uses oats in the boil to give the beer a creamy smooth flavor. Along with that they also give the beer some sweetness which offsets the roasted flavor pretty well. If you think you don't like stouts this is the one for you, I promise you'll be a happy camper. Alcohol stays pretty low on these, around 5-6%.
Joe's Pick: If there was one stout that I was going to let take me to prom and then have it's way with me in a cheap motel afterward it would be Otis from the good people at Sixpoint Craft Ales. I really can't say enough good things about this one. Big on flavor and extremely drinkable. Some nice hints of coffee and caramel mixed with chocolate make this one a stand out.