Kiss Me, I’m an Irish Stout
For those of us who generally imbibe darker beers during the darker days of winter, the sunset of this seasonal stretch is near. As far as stouts go, St. Patrick’s day is generally this genre’s retirement party. So here’s my shout out to one of my favorite beer styles.
The term “stout” originated as a heavy form of any beer style, during the 1700’s in England you might order a stout lager or a stout porter. However, the stout porter came to be the most popular, soon eclipsing other styles in popularity in the mid 1800’s. By the early 1900s stouts were the most popular beer in Ireland, and started to to be exported abroad. Of course, in order for beer to survive this journey it had to be brewed stronger, with a higher alcohol content. Hence a new sub genre came to be, known as Foreign Stout.
Stouts are the only beer style that I know of which consistently used unmalted cereals in its grain bill. These range from roasted barley, flaked barley, and oatmeal. Besides contributing to distinct flavor profiles, use of these grains contribute to a richer, silkier mouthfeel.
As of 2005, there were only 19 breweries in Ireland. Guinness, Murphy’s, and Beamish are all owned by international conglomerates and are largely seen as stifling the growth of Ireland’s indiginous beer culture. So on this St. Patrick’s, why not enjoy a delicious beer not brewed in an enormous factory and shipped hundreds of miles? My two local picks are Lights Out Stout by Barrier Brewing or Potato Stout by Blind Bat Brewery.
As for the whole ‘Kiss me I’m Irish,’ thing - I have no explanation.