Yesterday began the arduous task of finding / updating my go-to stout lineup. I'm going to start with brews that are most widely available throughout the year in order to establish some "baselines". Then we'll finish up with some brews for which I only have 1 or 2 bottles per year.
For this first qualifier there were 4 candidates, tasted blind:
Great Divide Yeti (regular Yeti)
North Coast Old Rasputin
Rogue Shakespeare Oatmeal Stout
Samuel Smith's Chocolate Stout
I should note that within a very wide latitude I've drank so much stout over the years that I use flavored and unflavored brews inter-changeably. You'll see that throughout this taste off.
Should also note that to my palate, more than any other beer type, the flavor of stout is very temperature-sensitive and should not be served too cold as the flavors can lock-up and be a bit harsh. For me, the ideal temp is probably around 60-ish.
Actual tasting notes follow:
Beer 1: Nice rich flavor. Mild coffee and dates....
Beer 2: Sweet, tasty. A bit thinly-textured....
Beer 3: Dry, bitter. Just an uninteresting, singular "dusty" flavor.
Beer 4: Big, a bit harsh.
After Round 1 my preferences were still TBD, so after awhile to warm in the glasses on to Round 2:
Beer 4: Very complex, semi-dry wbut with a mid-range bittersweet flavor spike. Well made.
Beer 3: Yuck
Beer 2: Undeniably delicious if a bit over-stated.
Beer 1: Very nice. More of a classic middle-of-the-road stout.Mostly coffee with a hint of date / cherry.
Final ratings: The only certain loser here is Beer 3. Beers 1, 2, and 4 are still in the race. Beer 1 was probably the most classic stout, great at both chilled and room temperature. Beer 4 is very big but did better as it warmed. Beer 2 is tasty, obviously a chocolate stout, and suffers a bit from a thinner texture than the others.
Revealing the Beers:
Beer 1 (current "winner"): Old Rasputin.
Beer 2: Samuel Smith's Chocolate Stout
Beer 3: Rogue Shakespeare
Beer 4: Yeti.
These results come as no surprise. For years Old Rasputin has been among my go-to stouts in several regions of the country. A masterpiece of classic stout both in the bottle and on tap, not too overly nuanced, just a great rich brew.
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