I bought a few stout/porter varietals today to sample over the next few days. I chose to try the Pike Place XXXXX stout today. I must admit that I’m still not completely informed about the difference between stouts and porters, except that stouts are typically heavier and more bitter… (From the wikipedia article on the subject, I understand it’s a matter of some dispute.)
Additionally, if you’ve listened to the podcast, you know that I’m a big fan of dark beers. Especially good dark beers, like that Stone chocolate stout (wow). I’m pretty sure they should be savored slowly. I’ve been nursing this 22oz Pike Place brew for about 90 minutes now, trying to decide if I like it. Which is the first sign that I probably don’t.
It’s got all the characteristics that I’ve come to expect from a stout that isn’t marked “chocolate” or “coffee” or “oyster” or whatever: Very little nose, a head that disappears quickly and leaves a creamy froth, a dark body, and a pour somewhere between Guinness and ice wine. It’s got a heavy malt bitterness, indicative of the dark malts used to brew it, and very little hop character.
Unfortunately, that’s really where this stout ends. A lot of modern stouts have something extra: A strong chocolate aroma (like the Stone porter), a distinctly nutty character (like the Anderson Valley oatmeal stout), a little floral character from a mild hopping, an extra strong bitterness, a sweet molasses finish, a light vanilla bite, a high alcohol content… But this stout doesn’t have any of that. It’s… it’s pretty much a stout. Nothing special going on here. And for an “Extra Stout,” it’s not that extra at only 6.6% ABV.
I’d say, spend your $5 on something else, unless you’re in the mood for a beer that fits the style guidelines and doesn’t do anything else.
/me grumbles, “even bud lite manages a sour apple bite.”