Brew Team Confidential: Stout
The brewers talk about the black stuff
Hold tight and get ready for the myth and legend of the stout to be revealed in all its inky glory.
If you’ve ever speculated about this blackest of beverages, let our brew team become your spirit guides. Set your compass. Here is all you need to know to begin your adventure…
“The most important part of brewing a stout is getting the right blend of dark roasted malts depending on what flavour profile you are looking for. Chocolate malt enhances a dark chocolate sweetness while a roasted or black malt brings out roasted and coffee flavours in the beer.
“It’s really important to balance out these malts because the wrong proportions can lead to very astringent and overly harsh bitter flavours. This balance can be the difference between a good and a great stout.
“Also, the level of dryness (the amount of residual sugars left in the beer) is important as this has can push the beer in the direction you want, sweet for more of a chocolate effect and dry to develop the roasted characteristics.”
“At BrewDog we seek that intensity that others shy away from. The big chocolate, coffee and oak flavours in Cocoa Psycho are a great example of this.
“We also use quite a bit of Weyermann Carafa malts which allow us to get powerful roasted flavours and aromas into the beer, without making it overly astringent.”
“When it comes to drinking a stout with food you need to be careful because these beers can really dominate the palate; sometimes having a stout on its own is necessary to really enjoy it.
“A good food pairing can be vital to bringing out the true flavours of a stout though. They’re good with cheese and desserts but you need to be careful not to overdo it on sweetness!
“Umami, one of the basic flavours we can detect, is higher in stouts and if you pair a stout with a food high in umami, such as tomatoes, seafood or cheese, they can compliment each other really well.”
“My ideal stout would be rich and thick with a strong taste of chocolate and coffee. Our Cocoa Psycho is a decadent Russian imperial stout that we’ve brewed with cocoa nibs, coffee beans, vanilla pods and dark malts; it’s almost perfect.
“I have a lot of time for Alesmith’s Speedway Stout and Southern Tier’s Choklat too. There are a lot of great stouts out there.”
“The stemmed half pint glasses available in all BrewDog bars are cracking for a stout. The one thing I would say about stouts is don’t be afraid to let them warm up a bit as this will open up a whole different level of flavour.
“I couldn’t count how many times I’ve ordered a half of Cocoa Psycho and a third of Punk IPA in BrewDog Edinburgh and supped away at the Punk for 15 minutes while the stout warms up. By the time you get to the Cocoa Psycho a wave of vanilla that wasn’t there before will swamp through your face and out your ears and nipples.”
“My ideal stout would be Dark Star Brewing Co.’s Espresso Stout. It’s got a nice, clean coffee flavours and it’s very drinkable! Brooklyn Brewery’s Black Chocolate Stout is a classic for me in this style too; it’s one of the first imperial stouts I tried and is full of chocolate and roasted flavours that are very well balanced. It’s a beer that is easy to find in bottle nowadays too.
“With our Cocoa Psycho we select some of the best coffee beans and cocoa nibs in the world to put into the beer which gives it a boost in aroma and a thick roasted, chocolaty mouth feel that balances out well at the higher ABV.”
“Did you know that in the 19th Century brewers in London were continually trying to outdo each other and have the biggest porter vats in the city? They even held giant feasts in them to show how many people they could fit inside!
"In 1814 a giant vat of porter (ask 100 brewers the difference between porter and stout and you will get 100 different answers, but at the time this style of beer was called London Porter, but it's a stout, yeah, confusing) at the Meux brewery in London burst, causing 1.5 million litres of beer to flood out into the street. The floodwave caused 2 houses and a pub to collapse, killed 7 people and injured many others. Brewers started to be a bit more sensible after that...”
If you want to know more about this beautiful black brew then ask us your questions!