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Post from jack | around
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Stout DayBack in August, the craft beer world celebrated the inaugural International IPA Day, on which many a hoppy brew was consumed. Not to be outdone, stout beer lovers everywhere will be toasting their pint glasses today for the first annual International Stout Day, which, like IPA Day, will have its own badge on Untappd.

Guinness is perhaps the best known example, but stouts have a long and illustrious history, going back to their progenitors, porters, which were dark malt beers popular with the occupational porters of 18th century London. “Stout” became a stronger, darker version of the porter, and eventually further modifiers were tacked on like “Imperial” and “Russian” referring to specialty versions brewed to curry favor with the Russian monarchy. Today, the term “Imperial” is widely used to denote a stronger, more intense version in the context of whatever beer it’s describing, like an extra-hoppy Imperial IPA, sometimes called a Double IPA, while “Russian” is reserved for describing stouts. Stone Brewing, for example, makes a particularly good, special release Imperial Russian Stout (IRS).

Stouts are dark, robust beers with a nose of roasted malts, often coffee and chocolate, with a creamy head and rich mouthfeel, which often benefit from special treatments, like highlighting those coffee notes as in Real Ale’s Coffee Porter, or the chocolate notes as in Young’s Double Chocolate Stout. Other enhancements include those covered in recent posts of mine, like using complementary flavors as in the Saint Arnold pumpkin stout, Pumpkinator, or by boosting the sweetness with lactose sugar and smoothing out the body on nitro, as in Left Hand’s Milk Stout.

Clown ShoesI’ve obviously had stouts on the brain lately in anticipation of Stout Day, and while it would have been a good one to save for today, I decided to pop open Clown Shoes‘ Blaecorn Unidragon, an Imperial Russian Stout, last week for New Brew Thursday. I tried a number of Clown Shoes offerings this summer, and had picked up a bottle of this new release along the way. I had found all of their beers to be extremely hop forward, so I was curious to see what they would do with a traditionally sweeter, smoother style. This beast of a beer poured Spinal Tap black, effectively censoring the colorful language on Petrol Station’s cheeky pint glass, while the inch-thick toffee-colored head kept the image in relief. The nose had the expected roasted malt notes, but I also got a subtle fruitiness from the Clown Shoes trademark hop presence, which was nevertheless tempered a bit from earlier batches that reportedly tasted too much like a Black IPA. I really enjoyed the characteristic creamy, chocolatey profile, and, coupled with the alcohol of this imposing 12.5% ABV really putting the Imperial in IRS, it was like a warm glass of milk before bedtime. Well, a warm 22 oz. bomber of milk.

In retrospect, I really wish I had grabbed two bottles of the Blaecorn Unidragon so I could enjoy another today. But, while they’re generally more IPA-centric, the Petrol Station will nevertheless have a number of stouts on draft today for Stout Day, and in my future, I see an Oskar Blues Ten Fidy with my name on it. Cheers.


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