A Question of Style – Flavoured Stouts and Porters

Flavoured Stouts and Porters 

There was a time when you could go into a pub, ask for a pint of stout and confidently expect the barperson to carefully pour you a pint of Guinness. Someone might enquire as to whether you were Irish and perhaps suggest that the Guinness brewed in Dublin was better than the stuff they sell in England.  Things have moved on now with stouts and porters being the most popular craft beers on the market after the highly hopped IPAs.

I am going to use the terms stout and porter as they now seem to be interchangeable. The styles certainly had different origins but craft breweries tend to use the terms to denote any kind of very dark beer.  Choosing a stout or porter in a bottle shop is a bit like asking for the dessert menu in a restaurant.  Coffee, chocolate, salted caramel and marshmallow are just a few of the flavours available.    In Ireland stout used to be referred to as a “Pint of Plain”.  A good stout may have a roasted coffee aroma with chocolate flavours coming through. Yet you may struggle to find a craft brewery stout or porter which is not flavoured in some way.  I have been sampling a few of the many flavoured stouts you can buy and here are my tasting notes.

Tiny Rebel Chocolate Stay Puft Marshmallow Porter 5.2% abv. (Wales)

Tiny Rebel were established in Wales in 2012 and came to prominence in 2015 when they won the CAMRA Beer of Britain award for their Cwtch Red Ale. Stay Puft is made with wheat, oats, barley, cacao nibs, cocoa powder and lactose.  This makes it a chocolate milk stout but that sounds a bit like a kiddie’s drink.  It pours a black colour, has a cocoa aroma and is actually a very soft, smooth drink with a dark chocolate taste.  Perhaps a beer to have after a meal in place of coffee.

Brewdog Jet Black Heart Vanilla Milk Stout 4.7% abv. (Scotland)

Brewdog were founded in 2007 in Scotland and have grown phenomenally to become Britain best known craft beer brand. They also operate a number of bars around the UK and overseas.  This beer is brewed with barley, oats, wheat, lactose and vanilla. It is also available in cans in a nitro version.  As one might imagine this a very dark beer which has a vanilla aroma.  It is a smooth drink with chocolate and coffee flavours with a slight vanilla undertone.  You could drink this with a beefy meal.

Fallen Brewing Chew Chew Salted Caramel Milk Stout 6% abv. (Scotland)

Fallen Brewing started up in 2014 and operate a ten barrel plant in a village near Stirling, Scotland. The stout is brewed with Candi syrup, lactose and sea salt. There seems to be no type of food or drink that does not come in a salted caramel flavour. The Tesco website lists 23 different salted caramel products including:  ice cream, chocolate, fudge, cheesecake and yoghurt.  This is actually a smooth, sweet, easy drinking stout which pours a dark brown colour with a sweet caramel aroma. It has none of the artificial tastes than come with some flavoured beers.

Devil’s Peak Change of Weather Chocolate Stout 8.5% (South Africa)

They are based in Capetown, South Africa and started brewing in 2012. They are now rated the No. 1 brewery in South Africa on various beer websites.  They brew lager, Pale Ale, IPA, Golden and Saison beers which are now available in the UK. South Africa used to be dominated by Castle lager, now owned by AB Inbev.  The craft beer revolution took a while to come to South Africa but there are now several good breweries around.  Change of Weather pours black with milk chocolate/liquorice aroma.  It has a slightly burnt, dark chocolate taste and would be good to sip after a meal.

Brew York Tonkoko tonka bean, vanilla, coconut and cacao milk stout 4.3% abv. (England)

Brew York started up in 2016 as a brewery and taproom based within York’s historic city walls. This beer does sound like the type of dessert you might be offered in an up-market restaurant. Not everyone would want to stand up at the bar and ask for a pint of this brew.  Tonka beans, which are similar to vanilla, come from South America and are used as a food flavouring.  The beer is dark brown in colour with a coffee and chocolate aroma.  It has a smooth, roasted coconut flavour.

Magic Rock Brewing Common Grounds Triple Coffee Porter 5.4% abv. (England)

They commenced brewing in Huddersfield in 2011. This porter is flavoured with cacao nibs, vanilla and coffee beans. It is dark brown and has a strong coffee aroma.  The taste is full-on expresso coffee with chocolate and vanilla undertones. This beer would go really well with a full English breakfast, but perhaps not actually at breakfast time.