The prospect of winter is alive around St. Louis as the trees along my walk explode in vibrant new colors, highlighting the arrival of fall, after what felt like a long endless COVID summer. Too soon for snow, I hope, but that doesn’t mean some big, boozy stouts aren’t in order! Winter is for beer and these beers are for winter.
And I guess I’m not alone in loving me some stouts as the temperatures dip because a new report shows the global demand for stouts is expected to grow and expand to just over $15 billion by 2027. The reasons are plenty, but basically, people want alcoholic drinks with richer taste and texture and that is boosting the market growth. Moreover, increasing preferences among consumers for premium drinks with nutritional benefits, such as significant amounts of antioxidants, for a healthy lifestyle are expected to offer new avenues for Stouts, so what’s on the horizon is very exciting.
Defining A Stout
Stouts are among the most popular styles of beer worldwide, and some are truly iconic. They are known for their darkness and their roastiness, as they are made using roasted malt, roasted barley, hops, water, and yeast. What happens to these ingredients during the roasting process is what gives stouts their dark, rich hue. The science is this: brewers use heat to convert the barley to sugar. As that happens, the sugar carmelizes, giving the beer a brown to black coloring and gives off a toffee-like flavor.
Under the style of stout, is where the fun can be found. There are multitudes of style off-sets to please any palate and most vary simply based on the ingredients brewers decide to use. Among the most popular styles of stouts are dry, milk, oatmeal, coffee, chocolate, and vanilla. Right now, I’m partial to coffee.
St. Lous Area Stouts
St. Louis area breweries have embraced this style whole-heartedly, and each winter we are rewarded with the return of old favorites and new beers as well. Here’s 11 of my favorite St. Louis brewed stouts, in no order. I could probably reach 25 favorites, and there are so many great stouts locally brewed, but based on my consumption, these 11 deserve special love. Many of these will be released within the next few months if they are not available now.
Main & Mill | Lil’ Jifforia | 5.5% ABV
Lil Jifforia pours very dark brown to black, low to medium carbonation giving way to light brown foam. On the nose, you’ll get all the peanut butter with a hint of chocolate with light notes of roasted malt barely peeking through,
On the tongue, well, it’s a friggin liquid peanut butter cup in a glass. Nuff said.
Public House | Giddy Goat Coffee Milk Stout| 5.5% ABV 25 IBU
A dark, full-bodied ale with rich and roasty coffee notes, and a slight creamy sweetness. It stands out because it brings a large depth of flavor but still stays balanced. They really found the appropriate marriage of the base beer with the right coffee to make a superior coffee beer.
Perennial Artisan Ales | Prodigal | 10.6 ABV
Prodigal is an imperial oatmeal milk stout with a massive fudge and roast malt character. “It’s a foundation for some of our favorite stouts, now here to stand on its own adorned with only a handful of cacao nibs and Madagascar vanilla beans to round out the edges,” writes the brewery on its website.
4 Hands Brewing Co. | Absence of Light | 7.1% ABV
This peanut butter-chocolate stout is rich in flavor, is one of the more balanced stouts I’ve encountered, and is just a fun beer. My suggestion is to buy more than one, crack a few this year, but store the rest and enjoy a year later. That was my plan before the big crash. I also suggest letting it warm up a bit. I think the flavors expand when the beer is a bit warmer than usual.
Six Mile Bridge | Cinnamon Maple Stout | 8.0% ABV
This beer has grown on me. At first sip, I was dissatisfied but as this settled, I started to get the hints of the Cinnamon and maple. All respect now.
2nd Shift Brewing | Liquid Spiritual Delight | 11.5% ABV
I had my first sip of the elixir in 2017, at Urban Chestnut’s Wolpertinger Festival, and after my first taste, it quickly became one of my all-time favorites. 2nd Shifts LSD series is one of their most popular. They continue to push it in different directions with new and delicious variants, but the original, for many, is iconic.
Perennial Artisan Ale | Abraxas | 11.5% ABV
Few local releases are more anticipated as Perennials release of this winter favorite along with its accompanying variants. The namesake is an Imperial stout with cacao nibs, ancho chiles, vanilla beans & cinnamon. For me, it’s the extra little kick in the ass from the chiles that make this beer so good. And despite other reviews of Abraxas varying in little ways year to year, I’ve found this nothing but consistent.
Schlafly Beer | Coffee Stout | 5.7 ABV
Now, one of my top 10 local beers. Coffee Stout is rich in flavor and silky in character, this beer is perfect around a campfire or at a socially distanced gathering. Among the most balanced and well made coffee stouts, I’ve ever had.
2nd Shift Brewing | Cat Spit Stout | 7.0% ABV
A long time staple in my beer fridge, this seasonal stout is another example of balance in brewing. This oatmeal stout is also now the base of several variant flavors. The original is a must-try.
4 Hands Brewing | Chocolate Milk Stout | 5.5%
This beer quickly became a St. Louis winter beer classic when it debuted back in 2012. To us, this beer tastes just like one would expect if you mixed a tall, creamy glass of chocolate milk with your favorite beer. It’s really that simple really.
This beer pours black and smooth and quickly rewards with bursts of chocolate as you would expect. It’s sweet, but not too sweet, which makes a second and third or more approachable.
That and the fact that at 5.5% ABV, your hibernation drinking session can go on pretty deep with this one. Not be missed.
4 Hands Brewing | Madagascar | 9.3% ABV
Another of my top 10 favorites. This Imperial Milk Stout was aged in bourbon barrels with whole vanilla beans. Madagascar pours a dark black with notes of bourbon, chocolate, and vanilla.
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