Thursday, August 21, 2008

American dark beer rules!

The American brewers are really doing something right with their dark beers. There is a richness and depth of flavour that puts so many other stouts and porters in the shade. Sam Adams Holiday Porter was my last American dark treat. I have The Beer Nut to thank for that, and he similarly steered me towards this one too. The richness of the malt in Sierra Nevada's Stout suggests that it isn't just your run of the mill base malt holding the show together. Much like the Holiday Porter I suspect there is a measure of richer malts such as Vienna or Munich to beef things up a bit. On the nose it has the familiar sharpness of roasted barley and perhaps some other dark grains, but it is only upon a deep satisfying slurp that the hops creep up and bite you. When I brew my own stouts I rarely add any late hop additions because I think that the rich dark grains should run the show, but the hops work very well indeed here and meld perfectly with the roasted grain. It's chewy as hell too, with a wonderful body and smooth dark chocolate texture that makes you wish the glass will never end. American brewers are teaching me so very much about dark beer and just what it can be. In many cases they have gone way over the top in their reinterpretation of classic beer styles, but they can clearly produce superb beer when they don't get too carried away with making classic styles their own.

(I should add that while The Beer Nut's palate for dark beer is finely tuned and essentially flawless, it malfunctions rather badly when the beer is adulterated with nitrogen.)

15 comments:

The Beer Nut said...

You call it a malfunction; I call it a sense of taste.

It is very possible to make a balls of hoppy stout -- Marble Brewery's Stouter Stout was one such, I thought. I think strength might be a factor: the best American hoppy stouts I've had have been around 6% (like this one) or well beyond.

Thom said...

I guess we'll have to nitrogenate some SN stout and see if you can differentiate it from Guinness.

While I mentioned the hops, the body and malt in this stout is outstanding and the best bit for me. It would likely work very well without the late kettle hops.

Andreea said...

i do like the book selection in the background :)

Adeptus said...

Goddamit, why can't I get this in Germany?

So what hops do you reckon are being used in that? Classic American jobbies? I'm planning a smoked stout soon, but could be tempted to ease up the strength, increase the hops and ease back on the smoke...

The Beer Nut said...

Couldn't tell you what's in there, but I'd say it's very easy to ruin a stout with high-acid hops.

Boooo to easing on the smoke. Smoke good. Want bacon stout.

Thom said...

I couldn't pin down the hops either. There was little in the way on aroma hops but some nice flavour. For a second I thought I got a Goldings like note. It is all works very well indeed, though.

Ignore The Bacon Nut. Goes easy on the phenols.

Adeptus said...

Ah, I was only planning 1 kilo of Rauchmalz in a 22 litre brew or something. Might be enough for Bacon Nut, but I know he like alot of malty body too. It's planned for the last weekend of this month, and it seems I'll have a collection of Germans attending as an open brew day. I might throw some candi sugar in too to see if it gets a reaction ;)

Thom said...

I don't know much about smoked malts. I do know that I am very sensitive to the phenolic smokiness. I struggle with Islay Scotch too because of the smoke. Some of it is damn near hospital strength disinfectant to me.

Adeptus said...

I know what you mean. A bit like licking tar off the road on a hot summer's day. The kind they poured along the cracks in the road.

Maybe I'll do a half batch, although I was thinking of splitting it in half for a secondary and conditioning 10 litres on oak chips.

I think I need a good strong Stout though. A simple one for simple pleasures. Time to start looking at some online beer shops methinks!

Oblivious said...

Adeptus 20% Rauchmalz is a good place to start, it will be smoky but not as intense as a Rauch beer (50%+)

Oblivious said...

Hi Thom

Here is tan out line of the recipe for the Stout

Malts Two-row Pale, Munich, Caramel and Black

Bittering hops Magnum
Finishing hops Cascade & Willamette (fuggles will do)
Bitterness units 60

Their porter only;y really differs with chocolate malt for roast and Goldings for bittering/Willamette finishing

Thom said...

I'm surprised at the 60 IBU estimate. Wrasslers 4X is around 60 IBU according to Peter, the brewer at the Porterhouse, and the SN Stout certainly isn't nearly that bitter.

Where did you get the info?

Oblivious said...

I got it form theIR web site
http://www.sierranevada.com/beers/stout.html

I suspect the IBU's are calculate rater then measured

Oblivious said...

Sorry also don't forget the roasted malt in the 4X will contribute some bitterness, I think there is a lot more black malt in the 4x that SN stout?

Leigh said...

I love SN beers; in fact, SN beers were the first to 'get me into' beer'. and this is no exception, i love it!