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Most beer enthusiasts think of stout to be a heavy and potent brew, both of which are patently wrong. Lately small and specialized English breweries started realizing the ignorance of the beer drinking public and at least some are making concerted efforts to convince them how delicious stout can be on its own, but particularly delightful with oysters.

     Stout is a dark, viscous beer that looks heavy, but actually is not. It is neither liquid “ lead “ as some critiques portray it, nor a  lethal intoxicant and aphrodisiac qualities ascribed to stout are absolutely wrong.

     Irish brewers excel in brewing stouts, the most famous of which is Guiness, claiming to sell 20 million pints throughout the world daily. Guiness also claims to have invented stout. Other Irish, English and even some American craft breweries started producing stouts to the delight of their patrons.

     Some American and even Canadian craft breweries go as far as importing English-malted barley and yeasts believing them to be superior in taste to those available locally.

     To the uninitiated, stout looks intimidating – pitch black and covered with a creamy brownish-white thick head that looks more like chocolate mouse than “beer crown “.

     The prototype of stout was “ porter “, a blend of dark, old, brown and pale ale in equal portions, popular amongst English dock and railway porters in the 17th and 18th centuries.

     In 1722 an English brew master developed a formula that captured the range of both tastes and could be brewed in a one-step brewing process.

     Porter’s colour depends much on the strength of the malt-roasting process.  An over roasted, extremely dark malt ends up yielding a nutty, coffee-like tasting, pitch-black beer, that may look “heavy”, but in reality is not!

     Over time, porters were called stout-porters and eventually just stout. They are food-friendly beers and can be enjoyed not only with freshly shucked oysters, but also with well-seasoned lamb stews, hearty soups, roasted root vegetables infused with authentic balsamic vinegar and grilled sausages. Game specialties go particularly well with stouts and delights hunters who like to cook.
L C B O carries a number of stouts, which may be of interest to all who like to experiment with deeply flavoured beers.
Shakespeare Stout, Rogue Brewery, Oregon; Old Growler, Ontario; Dragon Stout, Jamaica; Marston’s Oyster Stout, England; Murphy’s Irish Stout, Ireland; Royal Extra Stout, Trinidad and Tobago; Guiness Stout, Ireland; Wellington’s Iron Duke; Imperial Stout, Ontario; James Taylor Porter, Ontario; St Ambroise Oatmeal Stout, Quebec. 

Article contributed by Hrayr Berberoglu, a Professor Emeritus of Hospitality and Tourism Management specializing in Food and Beverage. Books by H. Berberoglu

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