For this style study, I actually skipped forward by one to try American Stouts (currently style number 13E as classified by the 2008 BJCP Guidelines) simply because I had a handful of them ready to go and didn’t have any Foreign Export (13D) styles in my fridge. I have to admit, I wasn’t exactly looking forward to illustrating what I thought would be another pile of coffee beans and cocoa nibs, but American Stouts had a surprising variety of flavors. Lucky for me, a gaggle of grapefruit, plums, toasted marshmallow, and black licorice greeted my taste buds and danced a jig on my tongue. Yippee!
Summarized BJCP Description of American Stout: (full description here)
A hoppy, bitter, strongly roasted ale.
Obsidian (Dechutes Brewing)
Rise (Revolution Brewing)
Grumpess (Solemn Oath Brewing)
Sierra Nevada Stout (Sierra Nevada Brewing)
All of these stouts were opaque black with dark brown edges. Only Sierra Nevada Stout leaned towards brown, allowing a few garnet highlights through. Grumpess had a huge, fluffy and persistent brown head that refused to fade away. The others had a medium-brown collection of bubbles that arose upon swirling.
All but Grumpess had a chocolatey aroma, and Revolution’s Rise had the most incredibly intense aromas of chocolate, toast, and roasted coffee. As it warmed, it smelled of toasted marshmallows, which was absolutely delightful. Obsidian had an equally unique chocolate banana-raisin-plum nose. Grumpess had a very strong hop bouquet that began as grapefruit but became so strong that it actually stung my nose. Was I smelling Sex Panther? (It really did sting the nostrils.)
These stouts all had fairly full bodies. Only Sierra Nevada’s was relatively thinner, but for the most part all were creamy and effervescent.
Flavors : Sierra Nevada Stout was probably the most true to style, in terms of BJCP description. It tasted of slightly burnt coffee and chocolate and as it warmed a hint of raspberries revealed itself. Obsidian’s dusty dry hoppiness was countered by a bready and chocolatey finish. But the best was Rise, by far.
My absolute favorite was Revolution’s Rise. This beer evolved as it warmed to room temperature and at each point the evolution revealed something a bit different and delicious. It began by tasting like black licorice and oily hops that was balanced on the swallow with a bready finish and a lingering caramel, molasses sweetness. Creamy and full bodied with a pleasantly thick body, this opaque black beer won my mouth’s heart. (If a mouth can sense feeling, why can’t it have a heart?)
What American Stout do you swear by? Cheers!