Congratulations! You made it through the holidays. You’re practically broke from the fiercely thoughtful gift shopping, so why not spend what little dough you have left on some quality, belly-warming beer? They can be enjoyed until the first buds bloom in April. Or with the way things are going, possibly in February.
Mayflower Oatmeal Stout, 6% ABV
Mayflower Brewing is about as traditional as…well, the story of the Mayflower. They use traditional brewing methods with little to no adjunct ingredients added. Their Oatmeal Stout is nothing out of the ordinary list-of-ingredient wise, but the classic stout taste is anything but. This full bodied stout is by far one of my favorites of the season. This deep chocolate beer leaves little to no head that dissipates quickly. Smooth carbonation eases you through the crunchy oatmeal malts, a persisting bitterness bringing character to the brew. A tingling sensation is left in the mouth, which sounds more provocative than it actually is. Although this beer will not completely alter your perception of stouts, it is a very well done one and doesn’t try to be anything but.
Ommegang Lovely, Dark and Deep Oatmeal Stout, 5.3% ABV
Lovely, Dark and Deep is a poetic addition to the Ommegang lineup. It seems as if this was made to introduce a more drinkable winter beer at 5.3% compared to the ever so popular Adoration which clocks in at 10%. It pours a deep chestnut brown from the bottle with a good finger-sized mocha head. Immediately a minty smell emits from the glass unexpectedly. This mixes with the roasted malts and nutty aromas as you bring it to your mouth to taste. The taste is on the drier side, with a light mouthfeel and a good amount of carbonation. If I hadn’t read “stout” on the bottle, I would not have assumed it was one, as it goes against the grain of Ommegang’s predilection for Belgian style brews. I wish there were more character and body to this, but the low ABV makes it for a more drinkable beverage to get you through those cold nights.
Avery Old Jubilation Ale, 8.3% ABV
Just looking at the can that Old Jubilation is housed in harkens back nostalgic winter images of sitting by a roaring fire, watching as your family shovels the snow. You’ll go out later you say, as you throw back another Old Juby, as you’ve now grown to call it. The malty aroma permeates as you open the can. It pours a cloudy mahogany with a thin vanilla colored head that hugs the glass, the toasty malts and caramel scent permeating through the air. The taste is almost sweet with the amount of malts and a very faint hint of bitterness. It’s pretty easy to kick back and enjoy as the snow falls. Oh, you’re done, you say to your family as they trudge in with wet boots and aching muscles. I was just going to go out, you say lying through your teeth, but I see you finished. Might as well make quick work of this six-pack.
Firestone Walker Velvet Merlin Oatmeal Stout, 5.5% ABV
Is this not the best name for a beer, or a stoner metal band? Honestly, besides the fact that it’s Firestone Walker, it was purely the name that drew me in. It’s a welcomed change over the previous name, Velvet Merkin. If you have no idea what a merkin is, I implore you to google it and be slightly disturbed. Another oatmeal stout with an average ABV. It pours inky black with a thin ring of off white foam topping it off. Scents of roasted espresso and chocolate are prominent. The taste isn’t far off from that, but not overpowering and heavy like you would think. Medium carbonation and a toasty finish make for a well rounded brew to impress the famed wizard himself. I call dibs on this name for my stoner metal band. We’re touring exclusively in your basement.
Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout, 10% ABV
Brewed seasonally for over 20 years, this is a classic winter choice in your lineup. A Russian imperial stout, Black Chocolate is high in percent and high in taste, containing intense levels of malts and hops—what?! It’s a bit daunting to some people, but don’t be some people. Just be cool and buy a bottle. It pours a syrupy dark chocolate with a half inch of sustaining milk chocolate head. It literally smells like chocolate. Would you expect anything else? The rich complex taste is true to imperial stout form, but the bitter cocoa after taste is something quite new to the game. This pairs well with any dessert, naturally, and ages very well. So get your hands on a bottle or 8 and let ’em age with grace, Helen Mirren style!