Stout Beer or Stouts, often associated with Ireland - Guinness, Murphy's, and Beamish -are dark in color and mighty in flavor, usually considered the darkest and heartiest of all beers. Stouts are full-bodied, top fermented ales, with strong barley and hops flavors that create a very rich, yet sharp and slightly bitter taste. Stouts are brewed with pale roasted malt (and often caramel malt), but are differentiated from regular ales by barley that has been dark-roasted (think of espresso beans, compared to regular coffee), giving the Stout its brown-black color and chocolate-coffee flavor. Known for their dark, thick richness, Stouts are often deceptively light in calories and alcohol.
The history of Stout beer is often debated, but is closely tied to the origin of Porters. Most believe the adjective "Stout" was originally given to the strongest or stoutest beers (in alcohol content) produced by a brewery, regardless of whether the beer was dark or light in color. In the 18th century, the term "Stout Porter" was applied to a brewer's strongest Porter, but over time the "Porter" was lost and the dark ales became simply known as Stout. For example, Guinness Extra Stout was originally called "Extra Superior Porter" and was only given the name Extra Stout in 1840. Stouts gradually overtook Porters in popularity, and during the last part of the 19th century, gained the reputation of being a healthful, strengthening drink. Stouts were actually used by athletes and nursing mothers, recommended by doctors to help in recovery from various ailments.
While alcohol content once differentiated Stouts from Porters, that is no longer the case (as beers like Guinness are lighter than most modern porters). Today they are very similar, and some debate any consistent distinction when comparing brewer to brewer. In most cases, however, Stouts are both darker and maltier, with a roasted barley flavor and bitterness, not found in Porters.
There are many different variations of stout including Dry or Irish Stout, Sweet Stout, Imperial Stout, Cream or Milk Stout, Oatmeal stout, Chocolate stout, Coffee stout, and even Oyster stout. And while some consider a good stout as a meal in and of itself, a rich, dry stout goes well with lots of foods such as gourmet hamburgers, spicy sausage, strong cheeses and oysters. Sweet stouts may also pair well with rich desserts like chocolate cheesecake or flourless chocolate cake.
The VS tastes and feels as substantial as you would expect from the bouquet. It has deep, concentrated fruit aromas, noticeable yet pleasant tannins and a refreshing menthol herbal touch in the finish. It is well balanced with medium acidity and drier than the nose made us expect it, making for a wine that is just perfect to drink and still quite compact.