One of my favourite beer styles has to be the stout. As a novice beer geek I tended to shy away from these heavy dark beers but the more I tried them the more I loved them and now I can’t imagine my beer cupboard without them. There is an amazing diversity to the beers that are classed as stouts so I thought I would delve a bit into the history and hallmarks of the style.
Stout beers, as we have come to know them, evolved from the Porter family. According to Mosher, the word stout, meaning a strong black beer, dates to 1630 where it was applied to “stout butt beers”. During the late seventeenth century the term stout was applied to any strong beer until almost a generation later when the term stout settled into its accepted definition as a strong porter. Porters and stouts share many similar elements such as, roasted malts and a deep brown/black colour but stouts differ due to their increased strength. Interestingly, in the past dark beer had a prominent hop quality but this is something that has diminished over time in almost all variations of the style.
Some of the stout sub-styles include Irish Dry Stouts – characterized by the use of roasted barley (think Guinness), Oatmeal Stouts – mmm… cookie (think St. Ambroise), Milk Stouts/Sweet Stouts – originally a drink for invalids (think Rogue Creamery), Extra Stout –fancy stout for export (think XXXXX Pike) and Imperial Stouts – loved by the Russians (think Old Rasputin).
What am I drinking?
The wordsmiths at BrewDog more describe this beer as, “imperial stout brewed with copious amounts of speciality malts, jasmine and cranberries. After fermentation we then dry-hop this killer stout with a bucket load of our favourite hops before carefully aging the beer on French toasted oak chips. Everything in moderation, including moderation itself. What logically follows is that you must, from time [to time], have excess. This beer is for those times”.
I would sum this beer up as an 18.2% knock you over the head then kick you when you’re down, kind of stout. Tokyo pours a deep brown/black with zero clarity. There is so much sediment it looks like bubble tea before it settles down. The bottom of the bottle poured out like spent motor oil – a good sign yeah. Very little head retention. All malt and molasses on the nose with a bit of sweetness. Very creamy mouthfeel and very potent liquor taste. The flavours, much like the nose, are dominated with sweet roasted malt and that subtle sweetness imparted by the casking. Best sipped and served at room temperature. Fantastic occasion beer but not something I could drink all the time.