I’m kicking off November’s posts with a new series I’m dubbing “Style Study.” And, since this past Thursday was International Stout Day, I’ve decided to start with stouts. According to the BJCP, there are six types of stouts (although, this is apparently about to change–see the first draft of the new guidelines here); Dry, Sweet, Oatmeal, American, Foreign Extra, and Russian Imperial. I’ll be starting with the first, and working my way down the list.
Also known as Irish dry, the dry stout is classified as style number 13A (again, this too is about to change) within the BJCP guidelines. The BJCP, or Beer Judge Certification Program, publishes a list of style guidelines by which beers are judged in both professional and homebrew level contests. The more a beer exemplifies its style, the higher marks it’s given.
For each Style Study, I’ll taste a few examples of the style and then create a drawing that encompasses the appearance, aromas, and tasting profiles of each one as defined by the BJCP, and as influenced by the beers I taste. Oh, and if someone can think of a good way to draw mouthfeel, please enlighten me. 😉
So, what is a dry stout? As Joshua Bernstein states in The Complete Beer Course, “The dry Irish stout is a counterintuitive brew.” This drink appears black as motor oil, but tastes light and creamy–a complete contrast between flavor and appearance.
Summarized BJCP Description of Dry Stout: (full description here)
Overall , this is a very dark, roasty, bitter, creamy ale.
coffee-like / roasted barley / roasted malt / chocolate / cocoa / grainy
medium to no esters / no diacetyl / low to no hop aroma
Beverage: jet black to deep brown / garnet highlights / opaque (if not, should be clear)
Head: thick / creamy / long-lasting / tan to brown
roasted / grainy sharpness / dry, coffee-like finish from roasted grains / light to medium acidic sourness / lasting bittersweet flavor like unsweetened chocolate / balancing creaminess
medium-light to medium-full / creamy / low to moderate carbonation / smooth / light astringency from roasted grains
IBUs: 30 – 45
SRM: 25 – 40
ABV: 4 – 5%
Guinness Draught (Guinness Ltd.)
Negra (Cervesera del Montseny)
Old No. 38 Stout (North Coast Brewing Company)
Murphy’s Irish Stout (Murphy Brewery Ireland Limited)
All four of the stouts I tasted ranged from black to dark brown in appearance with garnet highlights–very true to the style description in this respect.
Aroma-wise, the Old No. 38 really stood out as different with subtle fruity cherry notes.
All four were light to medium bodied with a creamy mouthfeel, Guinness being the creamiest by far.
Murphy’s was notable in that it had almost no discernible flavor, and a very bitter finish in the back of the palette. This was, for me, like drinking creamy, bitter gas. By comparison, I actually formed an appreciation for Guinness’ flavors. Its subtle, roasted notes floating around on a creamy cloud of bubbles was actually quite pleasant.
The Old No. 38 and the Negra were both delicious. The cherry aroma of Old No. 38 translated to a light fruity finish in this brown-black beverage. The Negra was amazingly unique, like drinking a smooth, roasted cocoa powder. Still very light-bodied, and the least creamy, the Negra was my favorite of the four we tried, with Old No. 38 coming in as a close second.
While I wouldn’t personally seek out a dry stout to drink in the wild, I’ll admit that I have a newfound appreciation for this beer, and I am actually looking forward to having a new repertoire of holiday brews to share come St. Patrick’s Day. I also have to give a shout out to the Rare Beer Club. Without my monthly subscription, I never would have tried the Negra, which was opportunely sent in my latest shipment. Thank you, RBC!
So, what’s your favorite example of a Dry Stout?