Guide to craft beers

Stout beers: production, characteristics and types

Written by EFW Staff

Stout: black, bitter and strong beers

Strong taste, toasted malt and dark colour: Stout beers are unique, for their colour and their taste. These black beers come from Northern Europe, where they were born and have had their first big success, before being exported and succeed all over Europe and overseas.

Stout beers, literally “firm”, “with a strong taste”, they gain their dark colour and strong aroma, slightly bitter thanks to the toasting of malt at high temperature that give them unique characteristics.
The alcoholic volume is low, the taste is strong with coffee notes, licorice and chocolate.

Characteristics of Stouts: high fermentation and toasted malt

Its high fermentation gives unique characteristics, the yeasts in fact are activated and act at high temperature, around 20°-22°. The malted barley is obtained through the germination of the grains of these cereals, from which the simple sugars are collected obtained thanks to the hydrolysis process that transform the amid into sugars. Thanks to the sugar, the yeasts are activated and the beer production process starts.
The used malts give to the beer the typical aromas of coffee, chocolate and liquorice and the malts of the Stouts are subjected to a long toasting responsible to the dark colour, form dark brown up to black and the toasted, burned and bitter taste. The main taste of the Stouts is given by the toasted malts, to the detriment of hop, which taste moves to the foreground.
Stouts are tasting beers, perfect paired with oyster or chocolate cakes. The alcoholic volume is low, around 4° and 5°.

Types of Stout beer

Irish Stout beers


They are also called Dry, for their “dry” taste as they are beers with a low alcoholic volume, with a lighter taste in comparison with other black beers. The queen of the Stouts is the famous Guinness, followed by the Bamish and the Murphi’s. Dry black beers are a typical Irish products with a strong coffee and toasting aromas, a dry and bitter aftertaste. Their average alcoholic volume is around 4-4,5°.

Imperial Stout beers

Strong and rich taste, dark and opaque, quite black and high alcoholic volume that reach the 9-10°. They are also known as Russian Imperial Stout beers because they were born in the XVIII century in the London brewery of Thrale in order to being exported to the court of the tsarina Caterina II of Russia. The high alcoholic volume was used to preserve beer during its long travel via land and sea, to reach Russia in perfect conditions. A famous Imperial Stout is the Boston Beer Company beer.

Oatmeal Stout beers

These Stout beers rich and velvety, allows the adding of a percentage of oat besides malted barley during the production process.
Generally the oat quantity added doesn’t exceed the 30% given that with a higher quantity the beer will be too bitter. Oat, in fact, gives a bitter taste that makes the oatmeals difficult to be appreciated by the majority of the people because it makes them pasty and velvety. If the bitter taste doesn’t disturb you and you want to try these Stout beers, the most famous is the Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout.

Chocolate Stout beers

Dark chocolate notes and colours for these Stouts strong and aromatic. The chocolate taste is given by the particular malts used for the production, aromatic and dark subjected to toasting that enhance the tastes and the colours similar to the chocolate. Chocolate Stouts are naturally aromatic and strong. Recently, some producers inspired by the name used real dark chocolate or cocoa in the production; one of these is the delicious Chocolate Stout beer of the American brewery Rogue Brewery’s.

Coffe Stout beers

Marked notes of black toasted coffee and unique perfumes, these are the characteristics of the coffee stouts given by the particular malts and the free toasting that enrich them with the typical coffee aromas. Some producers have used real coffee powder in the production phases to enhance the notes, as for instance in the Guatemalan Coffee Stout; their alcoholic volume can vary between 4° and 8°, the taste is bitter and dry.

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EFW Staff