As this is my second article in as many days that is offering up alternatives to Guinness for the upcoming holiday, I feel like I must make one thing clear. I am a Guinness drinker. A pint of plain, black and bittersweet, hoppy with a creamy head is my usual. There are streets in Manhattan (Okay, and Queens. Brooklyn. Dublin. And weirdly enough Paris ) that I must take special care walking down when my intention is not to drink because if the bartender spies me through the window they will slide the tulip shaped pint glass under the tap for that ever important first pour.
But I also love a good craft brew. With their intense sour, earthy, funky, floral, and often experimental flavors, some of the nations best small brewers are pushing the boundaries of what stout is and can be. Many are interesting. And often delicious and deserve some love as well. Here are some stouts from the shores of Americay which are worth a shout.
1. Obsidian Stout from Deschutes Brewing. This Oregon stout is deep and robust with some distinct notes of espresso, chocolate, roasted malt and black barley, with just enough hop bite to cut the sweetness. We are not the only fans, Obsidian has won the Gold Medal, Class 4 for Dark Beer 5.8% - 6.9% ABV at the 2013 International Brewing Awards, and was named World's Best Dry Stout at the 2012 World Beer Awards.
2. Out of Bounds Stout from Avery Brewing. This stout from Boulder, Colorado is big, roasty stout. Creamy, caramel-y with hints of charred nutmeg and rosemary hops. It was named “1st Place Stout” at the 1997 Colorado State Fair .
3. Exit 1 - Bayshore Oyster Stout from Flying Fish Brewing Co. The stout from New Jersey is indeed brewed with oysters, celebrating both the traditional pairing of oysters and stout and the fact that the southwest bayshore has been supplying oysters to Americans since colonial times. The beer itself is rich, creamy, roasted with a great and unexpected minerality.
4. Keegan Ales Mother's Milk. This creamy milk stout is brewed in New York's Hudson Valley and is silky smooth with hints of chocolate and oatmeal. We are not the only ones to approve: The New York Times declared it one of the top ten stouts in North America in 2010.
5. Samuel Adams Cream Stout. This Boston brew is rich, creamy and deeply roasted with hints of chocolate, coffee and a subtle sweetness behind the bitter hops.