In London during the Industrial Revolution, a new kind of beer began to slip its way into the mainstream: porter. As varieties of porter beer grew and expanded, the very first stouts came into production. Over the next few centuries, porters and stouts fell out of fashion in the pubs of Great Britain but gained increasing popularity in Ireland and the Baltic areas of Northern Europe. Today, the brewing of dark beer has become a phenomenon in the United States, with craft breweries from across the country developing new recipes at breakneck speed. To help introduce you to the incredible world of stout beer, we’ve created a guide that not only explains the basics of enjoying this unique brew but also helps you find the best glassware and serve it with style.
Guinness-Inspired Personalized Ceramic Mug
Ireland has become known for its excellent stouts. Guinness, for example, is one of the most famous brands of stout beer in the world. It comes from a brewing family that has been in the beer brewing business since the 18th century in Dublin, Ireland. Their timeless Celtic harp design is what inspired this personalized ceramic mug, which is perfect for enjoying your favorite Irish dry stout after dinner.
What Makes a Beer a Stout?
The term stout refers to any porter beer that is especially strong, thick, or, well, stout. The flavors and textures of stouts have been referred to as bitter, milky, dry, sweet, creamy, and dozens of others ways. The most popular stouts in the world are produced in Ireland, with Guinness and Murphy’s being the two dominant producers. Ingredients always include heavily roasted barley or malt, but can also include oatmeal, sweet cream, milk, or coffee.
Personalized Stout Glasses
Whether you’re a fan of Founders Breakfast Stout as an after-dinner drink or a sweet Left Hand Milk Stout on Saturday afternoons, you’ll want to drink your favorite dark beer in these personalized stout glasses. Designed by Spiegelau, these unique glasses are like a hybrid of the English pub glass and a snifter. The wide bulb is perfect for accommodating the large head, but the special base is what makes this glass stand above all others. The tapered stem creates a steady flow of the beer, swirling the hops and enhancing the aroma with each sip you take. In these glasses, your porters and stouts will taste better than ever before.
Where the Name “Stout” Comes From
Terry Foster mentions in the book Brewing Porters & Stouts: Origins, History, and 60 Recipes for Brewing Them at Home Today, one of the earliest known references to stout beer. It’s from the journal The London and Country Brewer, first published in 1734. A porter brewing recipe purportedly written by a London brewer in the 1737 edition refers to “stout butt beer,” which includes brown malt among the ingredients, and describes it as about 25% stronger than other porters. Initially, describing a beer as stout only meant that it was strong, but over time it’s come to refer to varieties of porter that are both strong and dark in color.
A traditional 16-ounce pint glass is perfectly suitable for many stout beers. Popular American brews, such as Rogue Ales Chocolate Stout, and oatmeal stouts like New Holland The Poet, taste excellent when poured into a traditional pint.
Why is it Dark?
For most stouts, the dark brown or black color is due to the malt, which has been roasted at a very high temperature. It’s so dark that it’s sometimes referred to as “black malt,” having been kilned “to the point of carbonation,” or about 392 degrees Fahrenheit. These blistering temperatures can also give the beers chocolaty notes or bitter coffee flavors, even when no cocoa or coffee beans are used in the brewing process. Today, however, many breweries add interesting natural flavors during the process, such as coconut, chili pepper, wood, and even real chocolate.
English Pub Glasses
English pub glasses, made with an extra pocket of glass on the top half, are designed to hold beer that produces large amounts of head such as oyster stout and Baltic porter. These are superb to use with beer from the United Kingdom, such as Bad King John from Ridgeway Brewing.
How to Pick the Right Glass
To pick the right type of stout glass, look for a large rim that allows for plenty of head. Dark beer creates above average amounts of foam, or head when poured. This excess head keeps elements of the beer such as hop oils, flavors, and spices contained within the beer for a full-bodied drinking experience. That’s why it’s important to find glasses and mugs with generous capacity and rim size. Also look for thick, clear glass barware. Thicker glass will feel more substantial in your hand– a good match for the strong quality of the beer.
Heavy glass beer mugs are terrific for serving Irish dry stout. Thick, dimpled glassware refracts light through the dark pigments, giving you a better view of the texture and subtle red hues commonly found in stouts. Good People Brewing Company in Alabama makes a terrific coffee oatmeal stout that is great to try with a hefty glass mug because of its unrivaled complexity. Pour it in to enjoy the beautiful tan foam of the head, and hold your mug up to the light to catch the almost indistinguishable warm colors.
Traditional Beer Stein
Beer steins and beer mugs are versatile glasses because they’re great for IPA, oatmeal stouts, Irish dry stouts, and German lagers. The thick glass and handle help insulate your beer, and the pewter lid will help the head last longer. Plus, they look awesome.
Classic Dimpled Beer Mug
Whether your preferred stout is black as night or has a beautiful caramel color, it will look amazing in this dimpled beer mug. Traditionally used for Oktoberfest ales, this hefty mug has plenty of room for you to fill with your Goose Island Bourbon County Stout and not worry about the head pouring over the top. The dimples in the mug refract the light through your beer, displaying the deep chocolate colors. Because of this awesome beer mug, your drinking experience will be better than ever before.
German Style Beer Stein
This beer stein is inspired by traditional German beer steins with lids. While Germany is more known for their ales, lagers, and wheat beers, you can enjoy your favorite Irish dry stout or British oatmeal stout in this stein. For example, Murphy’s Irish Stout or Young’s Oatmeal Stout would be best enjoyed in this classic stein. Guinness is not recommended as the foam would overtake the lid.
Now this is a beer stein ideal for Guinness or Murphy’s Irish Stout. Hand-crafted and hand-painted with precision, this ceramic stein does not come with a lid. This way, you can enjoy plenty of beer with more than enough room for the head, even if you have to cut off the excess with a knife like they do with Guinness in your favorite bar.
If you’re trying Russian imperial stout or exotic tropical stout, you’ll want to find a snifter beer glass. The wide bowl allows for generous serving sizes, while the narrower rim catches the head and keeps aromas concentrated inside. Snifter glasses are ideal for the very strongest beers, like Guinness Foreign Extra Stout, and Exit 1 Bayshore Oyster Stout from Flying Fish Brewery. The best beer snifters are useful for many types of beer other than robust porters, so invest in a good set if you plan to experience new types of beer on a regular basis.
Steel Pint Glass
Stout beers are typically served in pint glasses, but this isn’t your ordinary pint glass. Made of double walled stainless steel and custom engraved for you with three fields of text, this “glass” is quite unique. The insulated steel will not only keep your beer perfectly chilled until the last drop, but it also doesn’t produce any condensation. It’s also extra durable, making it perfect for outdoor or indoor use.
You might not believe it, but a red wine glass is one of the best options for enjoying a bold stout beer. Why? Wine glasses have deceptively large reservoirs, with capacities reaching 24 ounces and up: well over that of a traditional pint mug. Much like a snifter, the narrowing rim keeps scents and flavors safely tucked beneath the head until you are ready to enjoy. Look for options with a wide bowl and sturdy stem to match the powerful nature of varieties such as milk stout. And don’t worry if your friends look at you like you’re crazy. Just explain the reasons why stout beer tastes great when served in a wine glass!