You’ll see more stouts hitting the shelves over the next while, now that the weather is finally getting chilly. But not too many – the black stuff is less prominent among the offerings of Irish microbreweries than you might expect, though that’s probably down to the dominance of one big brand in the market, of course.
Among craft drinkers, the demand for IPAs far outweighs those for other styles – so just like red ales or lagers, stouts are unlikely to dethrone the IPA as the king of craft beer.
That’s not to say there aren’t plenty of fine craft stouts out there.
Chocolate is a good flavour match for all the dark, roasted character of a stout, and Sligo’s White Hag brewery has released an oatmeal milk stout with chocolate.
The White Sow is 5.2 per cent, made with cocoa and it has a velvety- smooth mouthfeel, a touch of sweetness ( from the lactose) and a nice rounding bitterness.
Coffee is another ingredient you’ll regularly find in craft stouts, and Wicklow brewery O Brother this month releases its seasonal Joe Coffee Porter ( 6.4 per cent). This year it’s made in collaboration with the coffee company Cloud Picker, with beans sourced from a small finca in El Salvador – look out for it in cans or on draught ( at Underdog and Brickyard in Dublin, among others). Moondust by Dead Centre Brewing is a 5 per cent porter made with coffee from Bell Lane company in Mullingar, Co Westmeath. This limited edition porter is infused with a blend of Sumatran, Colombian and Brazilian beans to give it a lovely aroma, while you’ll get dark chocolate and coffee in the flavour with a balanced finishing bitterness. This poured with a tight, full head and left some fine lacing on the glass.
beerista@ irishtimes. com