Top o’ the mornin’ to ya! With but a week to go until St. Patrick’s Day, we think that it’s about time to profile the Irish Dry Stout… possibly one of the most misunderstood styles of beer ever made. Why? Well, surely you’ve heard people complain about how they “can’t drink that dark beer, like Guinness, because it’s just too heavy.” These are the same people who say that Holly Madison is too heavy. The Irish Dry Stout is one of the lightest beers you can buy – with fewer calories than an equivalent serving of Skim Milk. Sure – its’ rich, creamy tan head and black body can be a bit deceiving. But if your mom always said not to judge a book by its cover, then tell your closed-minded friend to heed mom’s advice, and go sample a couple pints of this optical illusion before disparaging it.
What to Expect
So I’ll go out on a limb, and assume that you’ve had a Guinness Draught before. A fine representation of the style, indeed, as it has a light roasty quality in both aroma and flavor, with a thin body, and relatively lactic finish. The Irish Dry Stout should have an aroma and flavor profile akin to coffee grinds and cocoa powder from the roasted barley, with the flavor containing an additional kiss of bitter hoppyness (think English varieties), and a moderate acidic sour pull through the finish. The body should be quite creamy, with just a touch of carbonation – making it score really high on the “drinkability” meter.
3 word summary: Roasty, Bittersweet, Creamy.
Below is the Gateway Beers representation of the typical characteristics you can expect in an Irish Dry Stout:
For a more thorough description of the style, check out the write-up by the folks at the Beer Judge Certification Program.
People will argue passionately about this topic – how to best serve your Irish Dry Stout. Draft only, on nitrogen, double-pour (taking exactly 119.5 seconds), at a certain temperature, with a happy little shamrock in the head… and then there are “the others” who will pour a can into a pint glass, drop in a shot of Bailey’s and Irish Whiskey, and chug it in 3 seconds before chest-pumping their boys. But whether you’re sipping it at a fine Irish establishment, or enjoying one at home, may we recommend at least serving it in the traditional stout-style pint glass or mug, and closer to 50° than your iced-out cold Cuurs light.
Irish stews and meat pies. Yep, that should do it.
Ok, if you want to mix it up a bit, oysters have always been a fan-favorite with this style, and just about any salty meat such as ham or prosciutto work well, too. Fondue, boxty bread, and a coffee-infused chocolate mousse waiting in the wings for dessert will be just smashing.
There are about 15 varieties of Irish Dry Stout you can buy in a ‘packaged’ format (bottles/cans) here in Southeastern PA, across our area’s best take-out beer stores and distributors – we’d recommend starting with these three:
– O’Hara’s Irish Stout, 4.3% ABV (Carlow, Ireland)
– Avery Out of Bounds Stout, 6.3% ABV (Boulder, CO)
– North Coast Old #38 Stout, 5.6% ABV (Fort Bragg, CA)
If you find yourself in a fine craft beer dispensing establishment, we’d also recommed looking out for the following “draft-only” seasonal varieties: Victory’s Donnybrook Stout, Sly Fox O’Reilly’s Irish Stout, and Cigar City’s new Patio Tools.
For additional options leading up to St. Patty’s Day, connect with us on FACEBOOK for our daily picks this week. Sláinte!