Dish of the Day: There’s no need to forsake stouts after St. Patrick’s Day

Will Coldwell
patrick 300x225 Dish of the Day: Theres no need to forsake stouts after St. Patricks Day

People drink beer to celebrate St Patricks Day (Getty Images)

If your St Patrick’s Day celebrations went the way mine did last year, then you probably can’t look at another pint of the black stuff in the eye right now. But just because the sight of a Guinness evokes fuzzy green-tinted flashbacks of a night spent spilling as many pints as you drank, there’s no need to forsake stouts completely.

In fact as stouts go Guinness is rather lacking in charm. Real stouts, are a dark and mysterious breed of beer. Rich, coffee-tasting and filled with deep and delicious flavours, they are drinks to savour. As the murky spring weather drags on, there has never been a better time to ingratiate yourself with these comforting treats of the beer world.

Fortunately, in spite of Guinness’ domineering marketing which sees around 10 million extra pints drank worldwide during each St Patrick’s Day guzzle fest, ‘real’ stouts have been making a come back thanks to a renewed interest in specialist beers. The March 17 celebration has seen several new stouts come to market, including a Dry Irish Stout from the stateside Brooklyn Brewery and a Cornish Stout from St Austell’s, which revives a 100-year-old recipe in a nod to historic Cornish-Celtic heritage. Both of these will be well worth keeping an eye out for.

So if you’ve had it with Guinness, here are five stouts that you’ll want to drink all year round. Who cares if they don’t come with a clover in the foam?

Hook Norton Double Stout, 4.8%

This is stout as it should be. There are no funny flavours to throw you off kilter, just the delicious deep chocolate and coffee taste, warm comforting toasty tones and a bitter finish to nudge you on to your next sip. There is nothing to really change about this simple yet perfect beer, it’s just fantastic.

Magic Rock Dark Arts, 6%

A smooth stout with surprising hints of liquorice, cinnamon, dark berries and spice, mixed up with the rich chocolate flavour you would expect. Magic Rock who’ve barely been brewing for two years have done fantastically well to produce such a well-balanced yet unique beer. It’s no wonder they describe it as ‘surreal’.

Ramsgate Brewery Gadd’s Black Pearl Oyster Stout, 6.2%

An incredibly dark, almost black, velvety stout that will stay with you long after you’ve finished. Stouts have always had a historic connection with seafood, harking back to a time when oysters were often served in pubs, so it is a nice touch that this Kentish brewery designed their stout in honour of their local fish and chip shop..

Meantime London Stout, 4.5%

These Greenwich based brewers have been dominating the London craft beer scene with their vibrant, full-bodied beers. This medium bodied stout is no different. Toasty and bitter, savoury and rich, it’s easy drinking but complex.

Dark Star Imperial Stout, 10.5%

Strong, dark and with a big flavour, this stout is rich with brown sugar, toffee and espresso, with smoky woody tones. It is boozy too – you wouldn’t be blamed for wanting to drink it from a wine glass – but if there was ever a stout to warm you up, then it’s this one.

Follow Will at @will_coldwell

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  • Rob Whelan

    I know the Indo tend to give a bit more publicity to smaller, more ethical companies but to say that Guinness is not a real stout is just bloody insulting. Great Irish food use very simple ingredients & it’s the same with the drink. I have tried 3 of the above 5 and they are fine but you cannot compare to Guinness. People with square glasses and skinny jeans may pretend to like their stout with “hints of liquorice, cinnamon, dark berries and spice” but for most, it’s the simplicity of Guinness that has made it so popular.

  • Paddyman

    I wonder where Coldwell drank his Guinness? Drawing up a good pint is a definite art. It takes, or should take, several minutes, and the barman will have a line of pints, in varying stages of completion, ready for the customers. If he drankit t in England, he may have had a pint which was drawn far too quickly, and perhaps with an inadequate head. The turnover in English bars is also not as good as it might be. And finally, I think that the extra cold Guinness is a heresy. There’s a lot that isn’t made clear in the article.

  • Dromo

    paddyman you are right, BUT where are the pubs left who will do such things? A list of proper boozers in SElondon pls. Gotta laf tho … 10% ? that gotta cost best part of eight quid a pint ennit?

  • Richard Turpin

    You’re dead right on Guinness. I’ll have a couple on St Paddy’s Day for tradition’s sake, but for the rest of the year, er. no thanks. It’s a pity that many people turn their noses up at beer made with roast malt, influenced perhaps by their first brush with Guinness. They should try a couple of the crackers you mention: then speak about stout.

  • Richard Turpin

    And that is because it’s a keg beer served with far too much Co2 top pressure.
    I read an article some years ago that a version to be served by the traditional hand-pull method was being considered. I’ve never come upon such, but were I to, I’d try it. (you have to hand it to the brewer though for its advertising master stroke in convincing a gullible consumer market that the top 15% of a pint of Guinness – which is 50% air, is actually part of the ‘pint’ they’ve paid for! Brilliant)

  • Paddyman

    Sorry, but I dispute your bit about the head. It is partly a matter of texture, with the liquid underneath being drawn through the creamy head, like the experience of drinking Irish coffee through cream on top. You can always tell a good pint because there is no visible bubbliness in the head. It should stay cohesive, and should support a matchstick stuck into it vertically. The impression of the mouth should stay visible until the head has reached the bottom of the glass. By these signs shall ye know a fine pint.

  • Paddyman

    Come to Belfast. The late Brendan Behan reckoned a Belfast pint was better than the Dublin variety.

  • Justin Mee

    My stout of choice is one I brew myself from a homebrew kit,

    I came across it by accident when given said kit by a friend, who found it in his late fathers cupboard. As a drink in it’s own right it is pleasant and stouty, but, Cook with it in a beef, lamb or even pheasant casserole, and it most definitely produces a meal far superior to the sum of it’s ingredients, The kit is Coopers Stout.

    I would recommend anyone trying this kit for themselves

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