Righty ho, lads and lasses, take a look at the date today. It’s the 17th March, the date when St Patrick allegedly drove the snakes out of Ireland and we could all celebrate with a beer or two. Specifically a glass or two of stout.
This whole date is dominated by one particular brand, you know who I’m talking about, and do you know what? Good on them for encouraging non-beer drinkers to sample a beer on the one day of the year where it is practically the law to have a pint of the ‘black stuff’ and enjoy it.
There are probably more myths, stories and misconceptions about stout than any other beer style, a lot of them perpetrated by the brilliance of marketing, advertising and hearsay of one brand owner.
The word ‘stout’ was historically a generic name for beer. It originated from stout porter, a popular style of beer in the 1800’s in London. Yep, you read that right, London. It described a high alcohol, bolder flavoured version of any beer.
And whilst stout is now typified by one brand owner who may have backed up his claims of it being good for you by siring twenty one children (massive respect, Arthur Guinness and more so his poor wife!), there are so many more stouts we could look at.
Let’s take Young’s Double Chocolate Stout. I love this beer for numerous reasons, not least the fact that the brewery has a special room dedicated to store all the real chocolate that is added to this beer. How cool is that? A chocolate room in a brewery. I might just decide to live there.
You might be thinking that you can only get Young’s Double Chocolate Stout in bottles, but I have insider info that the largest pub company in the UK is listing it this month in cask for their pubs. So there’s no excuse not to find it.
A few years ago, I was asked to select some stouts for a St Patrick’ Day beer tasting on national television, and this is one of the beers I picked. I engineered Kylie Minogue drinking it on The One Show, Holly Willoughby sampling it on ‘This Morning’ and they loved it’s sweet, silky qualities. Far from being heavy, bitter and ‘dour’, it displayed the best qualities of stout: full flavoured with hints of coffee, chocolate, vanilla and toast. It contrasted beautifully with strawberries, ice cream, Tiramisu, and surprisingly game meat such as venison, grouse and pheasant.
Stout has so much more to offer than a ‘one day a year’ experience. You only have to look at a glass of stout to realise what brilliance has gone into creating this wonderful beer.