Delicious stouts for St Patrick's Day
16 March 2017, By Jonny Garrett
International Guinness Day – otherwise known as “St Patrick’s Day” and “I’m actually one-quarter Irish” day – is nearly upon us so the national press is flooded with articles about alternatives to Guinness. Never ones to miss out on a party we thought we’d throw our thoughts out there.
We’re actually partial to the odd pint of the Black Stuff (not Bovril) because it is smooth and pretty full flavoured compared to most of the macrobrewed beers. The fact that a dark ale has become one of the most popular alcoholic drinks in the world has to say something about its quality and appeal. However, there are thousands of better porters and stouts out there despite the fact they don’t sell half as well as pale, hoppy beers. As a result, lots of brewers have tried to mix the two (hence black IPA) while others have added adjuncts to appeal to people on the shelves. Sometimes these work to spectacular effect, sometimes to the horror of all concerned.
Below though, we present only the best. Some are whacky, some traditional, some strong and some very sessionable, but they are all delicious, exciting of course the kind of alternative to Guinness that even your supposed Irish ancestors would have preferred.
Let’s open with the most exciting. The concept divides the masses because a marshmallow stout sounds sticky, cloying even. But it’s beautifully balanced – think of that glorious aroma and flavour of a mallow, gently turned golden and gooey on an open fire. Add a little maltiness and a fair hit of bitterness and you have a surprisingly drinkable but still very marshmallowy beer.
This self-named “mocha porter” combines bitter roasted coffee beans with milk sugar to make for a beautifully complex beer. There’s lots of coffee aroma, caramel sweetness and a hint of hazelnut before the roasted malt and hop bitterness kick in to finish the beer just like a mocha coffee.
We absolutely love their core range stout, Broken Dream. No other coffee in the beer gets as close to that fresh roasted smell of proper artisan ground coffee. For this beer they have aged the coffee beans in bourbon barrels to impart a soft but sweet vanilla and whisky edge, laying more complexity to an already world-class stout for the ABV.
Just reading out the name is enough to make you smile, but the aroma does it even better – like a malted biscuit topped with peanut butter dunked in coffee. On the palate it’s a lot lighter than you’d think, with the carbonation making it fresher than it has any right to be. Not quite the dessert in a glass you expect but still decadent as hell.
Inspired by London's Industrial revolution, when smog filled the air and porter was the beer of the people, Smog Rocket is a traditional porter with the addition of smoked malt from Bamberg. The result is a light, savoury oaky smoke note on top of all the delicious liquorice, coffee and raisin flavours. It’s a beer that punches well about its modest 5.4% ABV and is simply stunning with barbecued dark meat and mature cheeses.
If you want to really get into National I’m-Actually-Irish Day, why not try to track down some of the amazing Irish stouts and porters in this video by the Craft Beer Channel?