‘Round About Midnight (Stout)

It’s winter and that means stout season. “Ok,” you say, “but what’s with all the different kinds of stout on tap at Zipline right now?”

Here’s a quick road map to guide your travels. Be sure to test your knowledge at one of our four locations today.

Stouts, like so many great ales, started across the pond in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Irish Stouts are classically dry and roasty, characteristics attributable to the use of roasted barley. This means you won’t get much in the way of malty sweetness, but the trade-off is fantastic drinkability (think Guinness). English Stouts also have a dark, roasty profile, but you may find a moderately fuller mouthfeel and sweeter balance.

Like many brewing styles, we embraced stouts here in the US, and beers known as American Stouts have become a catch-all for variations on their predecessors. The basic stout backbone (roasted barley) is commonly set off by a variety of flavors, hop intensities, and alcohol content. Our American Stout for instance, features notes of chocolate, while our new Midnight Stout features midnight wheat as a means to intensify the roasty notes you perceive in American Stout.

If you’re looking for something on the smoother side, it’s easy to remember what makes Oatmeal Stout so special—it’s in the name. The addition of oats to the brewing mash results in a beer that has similar depth as a traditional Stout but more pronounced malty sweetness and a silkier texture. If you’re interested in seeing this in action, check out the first beer we ever made here at Zipline – Oatmeal Porter, in which we borrow this technique and applied it to a slightly lighter base beer.

Got a sweet tooth? Try a sweet stout. Sweet stouts are crafted to reduce bitterness, often adding lactose, a milk-derived sugar, to the fermented beer. Because lactose does not ferment, you will “feel” these residual sugars on the palate in the form of creamy smooth texture. Our Mocha Stout, Chocolate Orange Cream Stout and Milk Stout are examples of sweet stouts.

Next, let’s talk imperial stout, originally brewed in England for the Russian Imperial Court in the 1800s. These have a huge flavor profile and higher alcohol content. Other characteristics include ultra-deep, dark, roasty notes coupled with complex fruity, chocolatey flavors from the malt, and a luscious, rich mouthfeel. Imperial stouts are meant to be consumed slowly, both to appreciate the full-bodied complexity, and because they are considerably higher alcohol, especially when they spend a year in Bourbon barrels, which is how we craft THE Stout (a whopping 13.8% ABV) here at Zipline.

Finally, some “stouts” aren’t stouts at all.  At the end of January, back by popular demand, comes our ridiculously deceptive White Stout. But, wait you say – Stouts are supposed to be dark, right?  Ok fine, our white stout is technically an imperial blond ale dressed up to deceive your senses.  We create this liquid confection by omitting dark, roasted malts from the grain bill and replacing them with cold-steeped coffee, cacao nibs, and vanilla beans.  This delicious combination plays the role of the omitted dark, roasted malts by imparting bitterness and roast character without the color.  We also add some rolled oats and milk sugar to build body and mouthfeel.  If you want to have some fun, sample it “blind” against your favorite traditional stout.  We bet you won’t be able to pick out the White Stout from a lineup.  Either way, you win!

Try one or try them all. Either way, we hope to see you soon on your personal stout journey!