BJCP Overall Summary of Sweet Stout: (full description here)
“A very dark, sweet, full-bodied, slightly roasty ale. Often tastes like sweetened espresso.”
So, as I mentioned in my previous post, the BJCP, or Beer Judge Certification Program, publishes a list of beer style guidelines that is apparently about to change. As I hit “publish” on my last Style Study, I happened to check some old tweets from the BJCP and came across a brand new draft of BJCP beer styles on the verge of being published. The new guidelines were still in draft form this summer, and as far as I can tell haven’t been finalized.
So, I am going to continue operating my Style Study series under the assumption that there are six types of stouts; Dry, Sweet, Oatmeal, American, Foreign Extra, and Russian Imperial. I covered Dry Stouts last, so this time I’ll be focusing on Sweet.
Also called a Milk Stout, the Sweet Stout is currently classified as style number 13B within the BJCP guidelines. They often contains lactose, or another unfermentable sugar (meaning that the sugar will remain intact as a sweet flavor in the beer, untouched by fermentable sugar-craving yeasts).
IBUs: 20 – 40
SRM: 30 – 40°
ABV: 4 – 6%
Left Hand Milk Stout Nitro (Left Hand Brewing Company)
Left Hand Milk Stout (Left Hand Brewing Company)
Running Man Milk Stout (Flesk Brewing Company)
Milk Chocolate Stout (4 Hands Brewing)
Young’s Double Chocolate Stout (Wells and Young’s Brewing Company)
Neapolitan Stout (Saugatuck Brewing Company)
All six of the stouts I tasted ranged from very dark brown to black. All were opaque with amber to garnet highlights.
Aroma-wise, the 4 Hands Milk Chocolate Stout was an amazing, chocolately experience; the scent of melted milk chocolate climbed right out of my glass and into my nostrils immediately. Both the Running Man (Flesk) and the Neapolitan (Saugatuck) had very pronounced berry flavors; Running Man’s strawberry smell actually caused me to mistake it for the pink-labeled Neapolitan, while the Neapolitan had an unexpected blackberry aroma.
All six were medium to very full-bodied with super creamy mouthfeels (or is it mouthfeelings? I don’t know about yours, but my mouth can be rather sensitive.). Running Man had the creamiest mouthfeel by leaps and bounds. Its bubbles seemed to fill every crevice between my teeth.
In terms of standout flavors, the blackberry aroma in the Neapolitan translated directly to a relatively strong blackberry jam flavor with subtle roasted cocoa flavors trying to peek through. (It actually reminded me very much of the jelly flavor achieved in Chicago-based Spiteful Brewing’s God Damn Peanut Butter and Jelly Pigeon Porter.) The Left Hand Milk Stout was expertly balanced and tasted exactly as the BJCP description designated, like a sweetened coffee beverage. I have to say that the Young’s Double Chocolate Stout had a deceiving name–I personally did not find it to be very chocolatey. Instead, it was very light and had a light roasted coffee and drying cocoa aftertaste. On the contrary, the 4 Hands Milk Chocolate Stout was incredibly chocolatey, but had a lightweight finish reminiscent of hot cocoa.
My favorite was Flesk’s Running Man Milk Stout. It was uniquely fruity in aroma, with scents of vanilla bean, cream, and chocolate. Its uber-creamy mouthfeel was amazing and it had some great depth in terms of layers of flavor; cocoa, cream, vanilla, fruity esters, chocolate, drying cocoa, and roasted grains. The only oddity about Running Man is that this beauty is 7% ABV, so it’s technically a bit boozy for a milk stout. (I’m not complaining, but to my husband’s point, “maybe you just don’t like milk stouts.”)