Nothing could have rounded out stout week like the wet snowfall that has blanketed Iowa today. To wrap up the beer ratings I am trying two oatmeal stouts. Rolled oats are used to add body to beer, giving oatmeal stout a viscous palate often described as chewy. They also add proteins that are helpful to head retention, so these beers tend to have a thick moussey head.
The first example I have is a local one, Hub City Oatmeal Stout. Hub City’s beers tend towards the lower end of the carbonation spectrum, falling closer to real ale than many microbrews. Despite the lack of effervescence this beer pours a creamy fallow-colored head. The beer itself is a hazy auburn. I smell some roast malt but it is overpowered by brown malt aromas: mainly biscuits and caramel. There is a pronounced yeast fruitiness as well.
The flavor is quite similar to Guinness Draught: relatively mild, with some roast character and a strong astringent bitterness. The fruity notes (berries and mangoes) promised by the aroma come through as well, rounding out the flavor. The palate is much too thin for an oatmeal stout, and is bordering on cloying.
The second oatmeal stout I’m trying is The Celebrated Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout. The brewery this beer is produced in draws water from a 1758 well. The beer is fermented in what are called “Yorkshire Squares”, square-shaped fermentation vessels built from large slabs of local slate. Oatmeal stout had fallen extinct when Michael Jackson wrote about it in 1977, inspiring the founder of Merchant du Vin importers, Charles Finkel, to commission Sam Smith to resurrect the style. So (if you want to provoke a fight) you could say this is the original oatmeal stout.
This beer pours a near-black with notes of sienna and a fair tan head. The nose is strongly fruity with faint hints of roast and black malt. A cidery, almost vinous flavor greets you at first, with the roast malt and coffee flavor not far behind. The whole tastes almost of cotton candy. Some lingering sweetness helps that impression. While somewhat chewy, I would prefer if it were marginally thicker. Then again, if I had my way you’d have to floss after having an oatmeal stout.
Next time I do a stout week I’m getting a bottle of Lion.
Hub City Oatmeal Stout
RateBeer: 3.2 (3-8-6-2-13)
Sam Smith Oatmeal Stout
RateBeer: 3.5 (3-7-7-4-14)