Style of the Month: Stout

After prolonged warnings from the Starks, winter is here and in full swing at long last. Along with the desire to sleep more, romantic 4:00pm sunsets, and dropping temperatures comes the gloriousness that is a well timed stout. Now, judge all you want about the picture, but I happen to enjoy a Guinness while partaking in one of my favorite winter hobbies: early morning EPL action at the local watering hole. I apologize for nothing. There's something magical about the eternal blackness of a stout warming the cockles of our hearts deepest and darkest cockles. And it's those cockles' cockles that we here at Brew Day are going to explore in depth this month with several reviews, recipes, and maybe even a few tips on how to get the most out of this season's most satisfying barley pop.

Traditionally speaking, stout meant "proud" or "brave" and had less to do with beer than our dearly departed Joffrey Baratheon did with those adjectives. However, stout eventually came to mean "strong" and was a generic term for the strongest or "stoutest" porter, usually weighing in around 7% or 8%. And when I say traditionally, I mean the way back traditions of the 17th century. The term stout first officially came about in the Egerton Manuscript in 1677 to describe a strong beer, but not necessarily a dark one. Fast forward to the new wave movement of the 1720s and that's when the term porter came into play for dark beers made with roasted malts. The higher gravities of these newly minted porters were known as "stout porters," thus marrying stouts and porters in what is easily the happiest union known to humankind. In more recent years, stout has become associated with dark beer rather than just strong beers. That title now belongs to the Imperials... but more on those another month.

From the brewing side of things stouts are characterized by the use of roasted malt or barley. The beauty of these bad boys is that they come in all sorts of varieties. Dry/Irish, Imperial, Baltic porter, Porter, Milk, Oatmeal, Chocolate, Coffee, and the up and coming Oyster stout are all pulling up a spot at the bar. We'll be examining as many of those delightful and murky pints as we can this month.

From my end of things, I'll be reviewing some of Chicago's lesser known breweries. Begyle, Lake Effect, and Flesk are currently representing the City of Broad Shoulders in the form of bomber bottles in my fridge. I'll also be resurrecting the Oak Jaw Milk Stout recipe from years past for those looking to add some lactose to their beverages.

Over at Odd Duck, Mr. Sova will be turning his attention to the great state of Michigan and Dark Horse's five stout series, highlighting Plead the Fifth above all else. Tremendously looking forward to what he'll be brewing up as well. Three words. French. Toast. Stout.

Lastly, MacLeod 9 will be bottling up and culminating the year long project of a bourbon barrel aged stout. All of us are a little excited about that one... so keep ya eyes peeled for his full write up. In the meantime, he'll also keep the focus on Michigan and review some of Bell's darker tasties.

And so, for the first time, we're off and running with a full month of one style. Thank the old Gods and the new for the Starks inevitable accuracy and the shadowy beers that come with it!

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The Concept

Brew Day is a brewers collective with a different obsession every month. Each month the homebrewers involved will tackle a different style of beer by brewing a batch and getting their malt-stained hands on as many pints of the same style as possible. Each brewer will bring their own warped concept to their batch helping to create as many variations as there are brewers involved.

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