As the seasons change, so does your palette for beer. During the spring and summer, Lagers, IPAs, and other light brews quench our thirst and keep us refreshed. Now that it’s winter, it is time for the transition to those bourbon barrel aged, holiday spiced creations to keep us warm and cozy. We’ve entered porter and stout season, everyone.
The heavy-bodied, intense flavors of the porter and stout varieties provide an exceptional heating sensation when temperatures drop. These liquid blankets occasionally have higher ABVs and offer a much different experience for the palette, as neither style of beer offer extensive flavor variations. Yet, each brew style has subtle differences in taste and texture which make them stand out amongst others in their respective markets. They also pair exceptionally well with meats, stews, and bisques, which are ubiquitous in the winter. Bottom line is, porters and stouts are comforting and turn average drinkers to beer bums from September through February.
Goose Island — Bourbon County Stout
From: Chicago, Illinois
Beer connoisseurs and even everyday people in Chicago line up for Goose Island’s bourbon-barrel-aged Bourbon County Stout in September, but this high ABV recipe comes in second to their Bourbon County Coffee Stout. The brew is brimming with flavors of roasted coffee, chocolate, and vanilla to soothes the bourbon after burn. Keep in mind, though, that the Bourbon County Brand Coffee Stout and Bourbon County Brand Barleywine recipes were both recalled in January due to “off-tasting” batches.
Samuel Smith — Organic Chocolate Stout
From: Tadcaster, England, UK
This organic concoction is one of the creamiest and most chocolaty milk stouts out there. The dark and thick-bodied texture give off an unparalleled chocolate scent once the foamy head clears. It offers a pleasant, sweet finish as opposed to a bitter aftertaste, making this one more of a decadent, dessert beer.
Ölvisholt Brugghús — Lava Smoked Imperial Stout
From: Ölvisholt, Iceland
If you haven’t indulged in an Icelandic beer yet, now is the time to try their best. This creamy Russian Imperial Stout coined Lava pours dark black and boasts lingering tastes that are smokey, bitter, and malty, making for full-bodied flavor. With stark hints of alcohol when it hits the nose and the palette, this one will leave an accomplished feeling.
Anderson Valley Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout
From: Boonville, California
Barney Flats happened to be the first stout I ever tried and I still drink it whenever I get the chance. This lactose-free concoction gets it’s silky creaminess from oats and pours a deep ebony color. It boasts a bold and voluptuous mahogany head, which wreaks a blend of espresso, dried cherries and toffee.
Big Sky Brewing — Ivan the Terrible
From: Missoula, Montana
Aside from the name, terrible is the last word you would use to describe this incredible beer. Ivan is a highly-intoxicated imperial stout teeming with English hops which is cased in bourbon barrels for a minimum of three months before hitting the shelves. This brew is complex, but one that’ll make for a balmy interior.
Deschutes Brewing — Black Butte Porter
From: Bend, Oregon
This rich, creamy creation is the one that started it all for Deschutes Brewery. Boasting a mouthfeel of distinctive chocolate and coffee a dark color, and distinctive chocolate and coffee notes, the Black Butte Porter is reminiscent of it’s eponymous landmark in Central Oregon; full of texture and flavor, yet it goes down easy.
Sixpoint Brewing — 4Beans Porter
From: Brooklyn, New York
Known for its skinny, colorful cans and beautifully crafted Resin IPA (one of the best double IPAs on the market), Sixpoint Brewing is one of my all-around favorites in the U.S. So, it only makes sense to include their 4Beans Baltic Porter to the mix. This puppy is brewed with Madagascar vanilla beans hints and Romano beans for a dark malt and chocolate finish, which helps to hide some of the heavy, alcohol undertones.
Great Lakes Brewing — Edmund Fitzgerald Porter
From: Cleveland, Ohio
Great Lakes is the largest craft brewery in Ohio and the 23rd largest in the nation and their Fitzgerald Porter was brewed in memory of the sunken freighter on which 29 lost their lives. This tribute gives off rich roasted barley and bittersweet dessert notes. Edmund Fitzgerald has a very smooth finish, comparable to a light lager or summer ale. However, what the beer may lack in body, it makes up for with four different types of malts and hops, making for a pristine blend of flavor complexities.
3 Floyds — Alpha Klaus Imperial Porter
From: Munster, Indiana
Alpha Klaus is Alpha King’s cousin that only visits during the holidays. A big American Christmas deserves a hoppy American Porter, topped with chocolate malts and Mexican sugar to give it that winter cheer we all yearn for. The brew does gives off strong smokey notes, though, so the taste is sort of an acquired one.