Tag Archives: stout

Drinking It All: #41 Guinness

Drinking It All is a document of my attempt to try every beer in circulation. It’s a Herculean and tragic attempt at best. But it’s the means, not the end that counts here.

guinness draught can

One word: yes.

Thumbs up or thumbs down? Ditto.

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Drinking It All: #36 O'Hara's Irish Stout

Drinking It All is a document of my attempt to try every beer in circulation. It’s a Herculean and tragic attempt at best. But it’s the means, not the end that counts here.

ain't no stout like an irish stout

I’m still trying to knock out some of the beers I’ve been saving up for the blog. I’m down to just a six-pack or so (although that’s mostly because I’ve just been drinking the beers I’ve been saving and not writing about them), and I’ve just opened a stout that my dad got us for Xmas. Admittedly, he got us a few more beers (which went unblogged (supra)), and they were good, but I’m going to tell you about this one, and it’s good. (FYI: my dad does like to drink a beer now and again, but he’ll tell you that dark beers aren’t much to his taste, so I’m pretty sure he’s not had this beer but picked it up because he thought we’d like it.)

Stouts from bottles. I’m sure I’ve previously mentioned my skepticism of stouts in bottles. I’m sure that I probably just seem too picky. I’m sure there are good reasons to put stouts in bottles, and, at the end of the day, I’d rather have stouts in bottles than no stouts at all. So, OK. This beer obviously is a stout in a bottle. The (somewhat informative) bottle indicates that the beer is O’Hara’s Irish Stout imported from Carlow, Ireland, and the 11.2 oz/330 ml e measurement seems to back the Irishness up. If there’s anyone to trust with a stout, it’s an Irish brewery, so so far so good.

This beer tastes similar to lots of other stouts I’ve (and probably you’ve) had–it’s got the coffee-ish roasted flavor and a noticeable chocolate taste. But not too much chocolate. It’s also bitter, which is kind of a defining part of a good stout, even if it’s (i.e., the bitterness) something that is easy to overlook because of the prominence of the roasted malt and chocolate flavors. And this beer smells good. I’d say that the way it smells is a bigger part of why I like this beer than how it actually tastes (but then smell accounts for how much of our ability to taste? That’s right–a bunch or our ability.). But it’s kind of silly to divorce the taste from the smell or the appearance for that matter. Which about the appearance, just guess. It’s dark. You can see in the above picture that the beer is dark. It might not be the darkest beer I’ve ever had, but let’s just call it as dark as a Hawking singularity. (Is that histrionic if I admit to it?)

So this stout is, I’ll admit, similar to other stouts I’ve had. Even though this might seem like a criticism, I definitely don’t mean it that way. I’ll chalk it up to my inexperience with stouts (and the fact that about the only one I can get often around here is Guinness, which ain’t easy for any beer to measure up against) and the fact that the way stouts taste is usually such that subtle differences can be masked by the larger flavor components. However, all things being equal, similarity isn’t enough (in this case, or, to be honest, in most cases) to dismiss this beer.

Long story short: give this beer a try if you run across it. It might just seem familiar, and that’s probably a good thing.

Thumbs up or thumbs down? Up. Next time I’m in Ireland (for the first time), I’ll be sure to take a bus to Carlow.

Also, I’ll be soon bringing back some old features of Typedslowly.com. Namely, the Box of Vinyl project (especially now that the proverbial ‘box’ has gotten considerably bigger) and probably ‘literary ramblings of a once future academic literate elite’ (which wasn’t a feature, but that’s just too ridiculous a name for it not to be). Sounds like fun, yes?

Drinking It All: #34 Bell's Brewery Kalamazoo Stout

Drinking It All is a document of my attempt to try every beer in circulation. It’s a Herculean and tragic attempt at best. But it’s the means, not the end that counts here.

a stout in a bottle--crazy.

Almost emptied the basement refrigerator of the beers I’ve been saving for about 6 months. This beer is the second to last of the hoarded six-pack. I’m not much of a fan of bottled stouts, which I think I’ve probably mentioned before, but I picked up this stout because what the hell. It’s a stout brewed with brewer’s licorice, according to the label, and it’s made by Bell’s Brewery in Comstock, Michigan.

This is one of the few stouts that I’ve tasted out of a bottle that actually differentiated itself from a porter. This beer, of course, looks like a porter, and it’s got the roasted barley and coffee-like flavor of a porter, but it’s also got a little something else that make me think–decidedly stout. I could be wrong, but I think the aforementioned licorice gives this beer the kind of tanginess that makes me think of Guinness. And if I’m a stout, and I remind a beer drinker of Guinness, I bet I’m good at tasting good.

So the Kalamazoo Stout has a prominent roasted barley flavor, which is similar to the coffee taste, and just a tiny (and correct, I think) amount of tang. Imagine dropping like 1/4 a shot of Jagermeister into a non-Guinness stout. (I haven’t actually tried this, so I’m just imagining it too. But make the bar your own science lab–experiment. Color outside the lines.) The smell is a good and pretty strong roasty smell.

This is a good solid stout, and coming from a bottle instead of a tap, that’s (me) saying a lot.

So why the caveats about bottled stouts? To me, bottled stouts almost always pour just like any other beer, unless they come equipped with those little ping pong ball ‘widgets.’ What I mean here is that when Guinness is pulled from a tap, it’s carbonated/nitrogenated–the bubbles in the beer come from a combination of CO2 and N (nitrogen). And the effect of this combination of gases is the tiny bubbles, the funny sheet of light brown bubbles falling down the sides of a just-poured Guinness, and the seemingly-flat quality of the beer. All of this helps make a stout a stout instead of just a porter called a stout (which this porter-or-stout business is something I’ll get to sometime soon, I promise), so I like to have that quality when I have a stout at home, and most bottled stouts, like I said about 127 words ago, are only CO2 carbonated.

Thumbs up of thumbs down? Thumbs up. I’d like to try this beer on tap maybe when my wife and I finally make it to Kalamazoo to see our soon-to-be-Dr’d (as in PhD’d) friend Emily.