Few seasons of the year are as exciting as stout season. This is the part of the year—when loved ones come to visit and special occasions present themselves, and a special beer is meant to be
savored over the course of the evenings.
Breweries feel the same way, and stout season is when many of them release these delightful and delectable stouts to satisfy those who drink with the seasons.
After all, the days are getting darker, the cold fronts decide that they want to follow the snowbirds, and either the firepit outside is going to get some use or friends and family will want to go out to enjoy each other’s company at that one special bar. Stouts are made for nights like this: long conversations, catching up with those closest to us, and a nice roasty and chocolatey stout to sip on as we talk about dark days, cold nights, and bright futures.
Pour these into a snifter and settle in for the evening. These beers will change slightly as they warm up. Try a few of stouts and sample the liquid glory of the finest beer season of the year. Or split a growler with guests and see which one they want you to bring to Thanksgiving dinner.
We’ll start at the top. Any time Oskar Blues barrel-ages its imperial stout Ten Fidy, the result is one of the finest imperial stouts made in the craft beer world today. Now, take everything about the barrel-aged Ten Fidy and turn it up to eleven with double barrel-aged Ten Fidy.
Oskar Blues has found a way to refine what we thought could not be made better – think motor oil color and consistency, with a parfait of flavors like roasted malts, dark chocolate, toffee, toasted sugar, oaky bourbon with hints of vanilla—each play a note in this symphony. In other words, Double Barrel Ten Fidy is a full-bodied sipper that blows minds for a living.
Imperial stouts get an extra bit of booze, vanilla, and sweetness when they spend time in barrels, and Brooklyn Black Ops is no exception. This beer begins its life as Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout and then takes a nap in a barrel. When it emerges, Black Ops is born, with bourbon, roasted malt, and an emphasis on chocolate bring one of these bottles to a holiday party and watch everyone’s face light up like Christmas morning.
What happens when two breweries with mutant powers of making beer taste like pastries combine forces? Untitled Art/Angry Chair Barrel-Aged Maple Vanilla Imperial Stout, that’s what happens. Tampa’s pastry stout superstars, Angry Chair, and Wisconsin’s collaboration-loving Untitled Art made a beer like no other: melodies of chocolate cake, maple sap, bourbon, booze, and confectionary chocolate delight layer this bad boy. The only thing missing is a piece of biscotti to dip in this imperial stout. Be careful—If you pair it with dessert, it might overwhelm the dessert!
Just what stout season was missing: the dark goodness of hazelnuts and chocolate. Horus Hazelnut Harris brings an unmistakable aroma reminiscent of the first time someone introduced you to Nutella. Try it and become a believer—or better yet, try it with a peanut butter cookie and imagine a Nutella and peanut butter dessert.
So much chocolate, what about roasted malts and coffee flavors? Epic Big Bad Baptist brings in a more rounded flavor profile with roasted malt, coffee, dark chocolate, and hints of caramel, Big Bad Baptist is not barrel-aged, but still packs the intensity of an imperial stout. Think: the type of stout that could handle pecan pie or provide a nice contrast to tiramisu.
The confectioners strike again! Angry Chair Imperial German Chocolate Cupcake Stout is just that: a syrupy, chocolaty, coconutty, vanilla delight of an imperial stout that can last to the last sip. You might want to take an extra growler. The last drops of this beer are contested like the final slice of its namesake cake!
Once a well-kept secret, The Bruery’s So Happens It’s Tuesday is a lovable and drinkable barrel-aged imperial stout. This is the younger sibling of one of craft beer’s biggest stouts, but while older brother is over-the-top, So Happens It’s Tuesday is the lovable one. One of the most lovable treats of stout season, So Happens brings waves of chocolate, espresso, vanilla, bourbon, and is the absolute perfect companion to candied bacon. This is the beer to save to pair with the most flavorful dessert you can think of, then finish the bottle in a snifter.
The dark and flavorful mysteries of these beers are best shared with friends and family. Friends never tried an imperial stout? Take them out to the best beer bar with the freshest drafts from incredible breweries and let them enjoy for themselves or ask the beertender’s expertise. Enjoy a snifter of imperial stout on draft, then fill a growler to take the beer experience home to holiday guests. If I there are too many options, order a crowler (can growler) to go.
When is the best time for special release beers? Look to Black Friday. Goose Island Brewery in Chicago started this tradition, claiming the day after Thanksgiving as a special day to release their acclaimed Bourbon County Stout. People went out of their minds for this beer: camping out and waiting in hours-long lines. It used to be the highlight of stout season on a cold November day. Fast forward to 2019, breweries and beer stores everywhere use Black Friday as a chance to release their most delectable, collectible, and rare delights. Keep your eyes peeled for a stout showcase event called BLACKOUT! On Black Friday at 99 Bottles on Second Street—the awesomeness launches at noon on Friday, Nov. 29! This event will showcase the darkest and most delicious beers of stout season, with several variants of Goose Island’s Bourbon County Stout and the best part of stout season: surprises on tap!
And Sarasota, you are in for a surprise of your own. There is a rumor that a keg of Dark Horse Bourbon Barrel-Aged Plead the Fifth might be lurking. This beer is legendary around the Midwest. Tapping every December, the base 11 percent ABV imperial stout lingers inside barrels long enough to deepen the flavor and increase the complexity and then it is unleashed upon the thirsty once stout season is underway. Supposedly, a lone keg of this giant made its way south and might be tapped on Black Friday.
This is the best time of the year to share a beer! Cheers to cool(er) temperatures and the beginning of stout season!