Stout. This popular style of typically dark beer is easy to identify because its personality is just how it sounds: rounded, bold, and friendly.
An important factor in the making of a stout, is getting a nice deep roast on the barley or malt used to brew it. Stout is also usually higher in alcohol than most of the other major styles, and often has an ABV of 7% or greater. There are many familiar sub-varieties of this style, such as Irish or dry stout, Russian or imperial stout (sometimes both names are used, as with Surly's Darkness), and flavored stouts like chocolate or coffee ones.
Locally, we're lucky to have many strong examples of this strong beer. Here are our Top 5 favorites.
5. Summit Oatmeal Stout
Highly rated amongst all oatmeal stouts, Summit makes this sturdy, smooth beer year-round, but it's a particularly appropriate pour as the colder temps set in. With chocolate and coffee notes, a thick, creamy head, and apparent oat chewiness, this stout is profoundly easy to drink and great to have on hand for dessert recipes like cheesecake, pudding, or stout-chocolate layer cake. Izzy's wisely made it the base of their Summit Oatmeal Stout ice cream. Find it in liquid form on tap at Summit Brewery and at Acadia Cafe, Ngon Vietnamese Bistro, The Blue Door St. Paul, and Tracy's Saloon.
4. Flat Earth Black Helicopter Stout
The result of a successful collaboration between St. Paul's Flat Earth Brewing Co. and Dunn Bros. Coffee, the Black Helicopter stout does indeed buzz with pleasant bitterness and roasty coffee aroma. It's lighter in body and less acidic than some of our other local coffee stouts, but that's what makes it so interesting. Find it in bottles at Big Top Liquors in Midway, the Ale Jail, and Hum's Liquor Store.
3. Northbound's Dark Heart Oat Stout
Denser than most of the other stouts on this list, Northbound's Dark Heart pours thick with a lovely, firm, tan head. It has a little more hop bitterness to it which balances out the full body and makes it easy to drink a second one. The bold and sweet tones make it a natural pairing with Northbound's smoked-meat menu. This one is only on tap at Northbound Brewpub in Standish-Ericsson.
2. Town Hall's 3 Hour Tour
Inspired by the campy TV show and the exotic flavors of the Caribbean, this coconut milk stout is complex, nutty, luxurious, and unique in character from all the other stouts on our list. Very sweet smelling and dessert-like on the nose, the coconut comes through more and more as it warms in the glass and settles a bit. The supply of 3 Hour Tour is already sold out at Town Hall Brewery, but look for it on tap soon at Town Hall Lanes and Town Hall Tap.
1. Dangerous Man's Chocolate Milk Stout
Confident, expertly layered, and delicious with an Oreo, Dangerous Man's Chocolate Milk Stout is easily one of the brewery's best and most popular creations. It's thick and chewy, typical of this style, but changes on the palate and lingers with its roasty bitterness. This specialty stout is only available at Dangerous Man's taproom, so plan a trip to northeast Minneapolis soon.