A Beer of a Different Color
by Kiara Helgesen
Ice-cold IPA? Way too hoppy for my taste. Light, tasty pilsner? Thanks… but I’ll pass. A black-as-used-motor-oil-and-just-as-thick stout? Yes, please! I love stouts: thick, creamy, comforting stouts. They are the most flexible and varied style of beer around. Cherry, chipotle, jalapeño, raspberry, cinnamon, vanilla, chocolate, raspberry, peanut, graham crackers, pumpkin, honey, maple syrup, oak, poblano, and even meat all marry well with stouts better than anything else. Most other types of beer are what they are. But a stout? A stout can be many things to many people. Based on the typical reaction I get when seen enjoying this beverage of choice, people’s biggest hang-ups are that stouts are “too strong” and “too heavy.” Yes, stouts tend to be thicker than other beers, but that’s one of the reasons why I love them. Just because stouts look as though you could pave roads with them, doesn’t mean they taste like it.
I haven’t always been a stout girl. I used to only drink BudLight;normally by the pitcher… we were all 21 once. One stout changed everything for me. This pitch black imperial stout was a mix of roasted barley and Blackprinz malt, which not only adds a coffee and chocolate flavor combination that is simply titillating but also aids to the stout’s dark color. Other ingredients include malted wheat to add bulk, oats to make it rich and creamy, robust maple syrup which adds a sweet and almost nutty characteristic, and a round of Columbus hops to help balance out all the malty sweetness. Have you guessed what beer it I’m drooling over yet? No? Sadly, it’s been off the market for a while now while the brewers work on their new facility. Like most Dentonites, the second it comes back into my life, I might pee my pants with excitement. I’m talking about a local Denton favorite, Armadillo Ale Work’s Quakertown Stout. This beer pretty much set my standard for quality beer. If you’re looking for a stout to make you appreciate stouts, this is by far my #1 recommendation; when available. Plus, it has an ABV of 9.22%. That’s never a bad thing. If I’m going to be drinking a beer with a higher calorie content, it needs to be worth it in ABV. Nowadays, the beers I typically drink (stout or not) are usually in the 8%+ range. Not only am I getting more bang for my buck, they are delicious.
Based on the beers I tend to pine after, you would never guess I’m not a chocolate lover. But when you combine chocolate and beer, I’m all over it. For instance, Deep Ellum’s Double Brown Stout is delicious on its own, but when they add red tart and dark sweet cherries to the mix — I just can’t help myself. Their Cherry Chocolate Stout is basically German chocolate cake in liquid form. Also coming in at 8% ABV, it is definitely one of my favorite seasonal beers.
As much as I love craft beer, my heart will always belong to bourbon. Anytime someone has the brilliant idea to combine the two, I get more than a little excited. A favorite example: Lakewood Brewing’s Bourbon Barrel Temptress, commonly referred to as “BBT”. As per the brewers, “BBT is everything you love about The Temptress, but boozier (11.3% ABV) and nicely-aged. You could say it’s the “cougar” of milk stouts. We take our signature silky imperial milk stout and age it in freshly emptied oak bourbon barrels between 5-10 months. This maturation process instills a depth of flavor and warming touch that grows with each sip. Hints of burnt sugar, vanilla, oak, toffee, caramel, and roasted coffee intertwine for a boozy, dangerously smooth treat.”
Lakewood’s The Temptress (one of the more available craft beers for the DFW area and base beer of BBT) is also described best by the brewers as: “Seduction in a glass. Curvy in all the right places, this Imperial Milk Stout pours with a thick, milk chocolate head. Chocolate and caramel malt give it a rich and complex body while the lower carbonation gives the beer a silky mouth feel. She’s voluptuous, with a soft alcohol warmth that grows deeper with every sip. Take your time with her and she’ll reward you.”
Coffee stouts are also common and they make my heart happy. Rationalize having one for breakfast — perfect for brunch. Armadillo Ale Works Brunch Money Golden Stout is a delicious example. It tastes exactly like brunch. Think of their Quakertown Stout, but much lighter in color with sweet notes of vanilla, coffee, and chocolate. I need it back in my life. I once had a stout brewed with Jameson soaked coffee beans and it was positively sinful. Whiskey and coffee married together… perfect harmony. I sincerely wish that I remembered the name of brewery/beer, but after three pours… I was in a very happy place in life.
My favorite not-so-local stout, Iron Fist Brewing Company’s Velvet Glove Imperial Stout, I discovered while on vacation in San Diego. There’s enough gusto in this beer to appease the staunch lovers of dry roast in stout. There’s also enough decadent sweetness to appease the sweet tooth as well.
With the exception of Velvet Glove, most of the beers referenced above are specific to the DFW area and the local brewers who make them can be found at Best Little Brewfest in Texas.
Stouts are out there for the tasting and they come in all types, flavors, and strengths. Even if you can’t bring yourself to fully replace your beloved IPAs or golden ales, a little dessert in a glass never hurt anyone.