Funnily enough, you could probably define a stout beer by the kind of person who would’ve drunk them back in the day – a well-built strong bloke, enjoying it after an arduous day at work. And that’s exactly what a stout is, a hefty top-fermented beer, with many joking that you could have one as a meal. Whilst they were traditionally stronger kinds of beer at 7-8% rather than dark beer, they are today the darkest kind of beer that you’ll find out there, and as such the focus on this beer is on the kind of malts that we use, rather than the hops.
When you think of the history of stout beer, the first thing that will most likely pop into your head is Guinness, the famous Irish stout from Dublin. However, stouts actually originate from London and derive from another well-known beer style, Porters. First brewed in the 18th Century, these strong beers quickly became very popular, especially with London street porters, which is, you guessed it, where it got its name from. Porters became so popular that for many breweries this was the only kind of beer they brewed, however different strengths of porter were brewed. Stout porters were thus a stronger version of this beer and soon their name was shortened to just stout. These beers were soon being exported and proved to be also very popular in Ireland. Keen not to miss out, a certain Arthur Guinness soon started brewing his own version, a Dry Irish Stout at his St James’s Gate Brewery in Dublin, which through the use of roasted barley rather than malted barley created a drier and more bitter flavours in the stout.
Today you will still hear many brewers and beer drinkers debate stouts and porters and whether they’re the same or differ. This largely depends on how it’s been brewed as porters tend to be lighter than stouts. Many will also differentiate between the two geographically, with porters being associated with London and stouts, not surprisingly, with Dublin.
You shouldn’t be surprised by now to hear that stout beers are usually the darkest of beers that you can find out there and as we’ve said above, this is all thanks to the malt that we use when we brew a stout. Stouts are brewed with incredibly dark malts that have been heavily kilned or roasted. Though it will look black in colour, if you hold your stout against the light you’ll see that it’s usually an incredibly dark brown or even ruby in colour. Depending on how the beer is dispensed, many stouts will also have a lovely creamy white head, providing a wonderful stark contrast to the dark body of the beer. These malts don’t just give you the colour, they’ll give you those lovely bitter chocolate coffee burnt flavours too!
Many beer styles enjoy sub categories and stouts are no different. You’ll find that an array of different kinds of stouts have been brewed over the years, with many still proving to be popular today. For instance, we have dry stouts, which is what Guinness is brewed as, which as the name suggests, are drier and more bitter in flavour. Need a breakfast beer? Then how about an oatmeal stout? Brewed with usually 30% oats in the grist bill this will give your beer a lovely creamy smooth texture. Milk stouts are another wonderful kind of stout and have proven popular once again thanks to Craft brewers. Brewed with lactose, these stouts are sure to be silky smooth compared to its counterparts.
Or if you fancy something a little different, how about an oyster stout? This has been brewed in the past with literal oysters going into the stout, and whilst today oysters are no longer in the brew itself, you will find many breweries still brew an oyster stout, including here in the Netherlands (we’ve even done one here at Uiltje!).
For the hardcore beer drinkers, there is also the option of an imperial stout, with average ABV’s of over 10%, this kind of stout is perhaps best saved for the end of the night!
Many joke that you can enjoy a stout as a meal, and whilst this is true, they also make a great food accompaniment. As we’ve said above, back in the day some stouts were brewed with oysters in them but if that doesn’t tempt you, then try eating oysters with a stout on the side – the saltiness of the oysters will complement the chocolatey coffee flavours of the stout. If however you are not a fan of oysters, stouts are great with a burger or steak and fries, basically your juicy red meats! Also perfect if you’re thinking of having a BBQ and need a good beer to go with it. If you want to try something a little different, you could even try baking with it – stout brownie anyone?
Now you would be forgiven for thinking that here at Uiltje, we’re all about IPAs and super fresh beers and whilst this is true, this nevertheless hasn’t stopped us from producing some scrumptious stouts. Our hardcore fans should by now be familiar with F*ck the Christmas tree is on fire!, an orange and oatmeal stout which we release at the beginning of winter, and at 10%, it is indeed a fantastic winter warmer. Though we’ve been brewing it for a few years, it still remains a firm favourite for both the brewers and our Uiltje fans. More recently we’ve been stepping up our production with stouts, experimenting with different ingredients along the way. These are released through our Mind Your Step series for those of you who are looking for a stout with a twist as well. And if this isn’t enough then be sure to keep an eye on our new Grandson series for even wackier stouts! Need to quench your thirst? Then check out the beer release calendar to see when we’re releasing our next stout!
Getting thirsty? At the Uiltje brewing webshop you can order all kinds of different craft beer! Enjoy your day!