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India pale ales—you know them as IPAs—may still be the best-selling beer style, but many of us prefer the darker side of things.

Yes, stouts are perfect as the nights begin to get just a little longer; it’s a great time to enjoy oatmeal-y, chocolate-y, coffee-flavored deliciousness in a glass.

For my money, here are some of the best stouts in the world right now:

Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout: With more than 12,000 votes and a 4.5 rating (out of 5) on BeerAdvocate.com, this is arguably the best stout in the world. Coming in at 12.8 percent alcohol by volume, the beer offers hints of caramel, bourbon and dried fruit on the nose. This is a full-bodied, smooth stout with flavors of vanilla, oak and yet more bourbon. It’s the epitome of the imperial stout style—a beautifully crafted beer.

Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout: Of the most widely known stouts in America, “KBS” is also one of the best, with a 100 BeerAdvocate.com score. This world-class imperial stout is brewed with a hint of coffee and vanilla, then cave-aged in oak bourbon barrels for an entire year. KBS shines with bold flavors throughout—and the flavors ramp up a couple of notches as the beer warms. 

“You put the right beer in the right barrel, and you’re going to create some pretty interesting flavors,” says Founders brewmaster Jeremy Kosmicki, according to the Founders website.

Firestone Walker Parabola: This barrel-aged beast also has a world-class 100 score from BeerAdvocate.com, and is also aged for a full year in bourbon barrels. With this 14 percent ABV Russian imperial stout, prepare for flavors of sweet, dark berries; oak-y cask vanilla; and malt complexity. The licorice and molasses notes help create a perfectly balanced and amazingly flavorful stout. This is a fantastic nightcap!

While we’re talking about stouts, I’d be remiss if I didn’t remind you to mark your calendars for Nov. 2, when stout-lovers across the world will celebrate the delicious, dark beer on the Seventh Annual International Stout Day. Full disclosure: I created the day!

Here are a few of my favorite places to enjoy stouts, as well as a few of my favorite stouts to enjoy, in and around the Coachella Valley:

Coachella Valley Brewing Co. (30640 Gunther St., Thousand Palms) will be celebrating Stout Day with a newly released stout; the details will be announced soon.

La Quinta Brewing Co.’s Koffi Porter is a 6.3 percent ABV beer brewed with dark-roasted, chocolate and crystal malts. After fermentation, brewmasters add coffee beans from Rancho Mirage’s Koffi. This renowned beer has taken home the bronze in both the 2014 World Beer Championships and the 2016 Los Angeles International Beer Competition. It will be on tap at both locations (77917 Wildcat Drive, Palm Desert; and 78065 Main St., No.100, La Quinta) for Stout Day.

King Harbor Brewing Summer Stout: Redondo Beach’s King Harbor is known for its Swirly stout, and the brewery occasionally releases an imperial stout in the winter, but this year, Tom Dunbabin and his brewing team decided they wanted to develop a Summer Stout—with a chocolate and roasted-malt profile, a subtle refreshing character, a lower alcohol by volume and a clean finish. Expect to see this beer and other King Harbor brews around the Coachella Valley this fall and winter—and if you’re feeling like a road trip, King Harbor will be hosting a Stout Day event at the brewery on Nov. 2.

The Beer Hunter (78483 Highway 111, La Quinta) is not to be confused with the beer writer named Michael Jackson, who used the moniker The Beer Hunter, and was the best beer writer the world has known; he passed away in 2007. I am talking about the sports bar in La Quinta that is stepping up its game with new and bigger selections, as well as its own white-label beers that are brewed locally. Stop in on Nov. 2 to celebrate Stout Day!

Want to stay in to celebrate stouts? I have found the selections of craft beer at Total Wine and More, Whole Foods, Jensen’s Foods and Bristol Farms to all be fantastic. Pour your own stout flights, and have guests pick their favorites!

International Stout Day gives stouts their day in the spotlight, which they so rightly deserve. On Nov. 2, be sure to login and rate your stouts, and check in where you’re celebrating, on Untappd! Every year, the app offers up special badges for celebrating the holiday.

Enjoy!

Published in Beer

Someone once said that “history flows forward on rivers of beer.” It’s true: Beer has played a significant role in shaping the human experience.

This brings us to Nov. 3, when stout-lovers across the world celebrated the delicious, dark beer during the Sixth Annual International Stout Day. Hundreds of craft breweries and pubs hosted Stout Day events—and I was fortunate enough to be invited to fly to the Emerald Isle for events at that most famous and historic of all breweries, Guinness.

Arthur Guinness started brewing ales in 1759 at the St. James’s Gate Brewery in Dublin. On Dec. 31, 1759, he signed a 9,000-year lease at 45 pounds per year—quite possibly the smartest investment in history.

I was thrilled that the good folks at Guinness officially celebrated International Stout Day. Created by yours truly in 2011, the day symbolizes everything that is good about this iconic beer style, and the collaborative community that enjoys it. After Guinness invited me to the brewery, I felt like Charlie in Willy Wonka at times.

There has been an experimental brewery at St. James’s Gate for more than 100 years, but it is newly open to the public: In November 2015, The Open Gate Brewery opened with the intent of allowing people to sample new beers by Guinness brewers, who are given free rein to experiment and explore new beers.

At Open Gate, these brewers oversee all Guinness beer innovation globally—which is a tremendous responsibility, since Guinness is sold in more than 150 countries around the world. The brew system is manual, so they are able to replicate any of the beers at any Guinness brewery. It’s the size of a typical craft brewery—just inside the massive Guinness walls. It’s the perfect place to taste the wider variety of Guinness’ drink portfolio.

Head brewer Peter Simpson gave me a private tour before the celebration. These lucky brewers have everything a brewer could want—in order to brew just about anything they want. They have a mini-roaster, in order to experiment with different grains. Hearty English hops, like Northern Brewer, grow outside in the hops garden. And Guinness’ “Super Yeast” is used to brew all of the company’s styles of beer.

“Every new Guinness launch from now on will start in here—and will be on the tap here first,” Simpson said. “At the moment, we’re doing two new beers every month.”

The brewery made history again that very evening: On Stout Day, Guinness invited other breweries to the event. Ireland, like the United States, is experiencing its own craft-beer resurgence and revolution—and I was told this was the first time that brewers from Irish craft breweries were invited to enjoy pints together at an event held by Guinness, on Guinness property.

Joining Guinness at the Open Gate Brewery that evening were representatives of Kellys, 5 Lamps, Porterhouse Brewing Co., Dungarvan Brewing Co. and London’s 40ft Brewery.

Liam LaHart, the founder and brewer of Porterhouse, leaned into me after the event and whispered, “Erin, you realize this is unprecedented, right?”

I got goose bumps.

Each craft brewery brought two to four stouts beers each. Guinness offered a delicious list of varietals: Apple Stout at 6.2 percent alcohol by volume, Sea Salt and Burnt Sugar Stout at 6.3 percent ABV, Guinness Foreign Extra Stout at 7.5 percent ABV, Weisen Stout at 7.2 percent ABV, Antwerpen Export Stout at 8 percent ABV, Nitro Double Coffee Stout at 5.5 percent ABV, and Guinness Draught at 4.2 percent ABV. The eighth tap featured 40ft Brewery—the first-ever guest tap.

The brewers from 40ft had to board a ship and a train to bring their 40ft Deep stout over to Dublin for the event. It was a brilliant 5 percent ABV stout, with notes of coffee, dark chocolate and licorice. It’s hopped with Target (UK) and Bravo (U.S.), adding a touch of orange and spice to the aroma.

Guinness’ new Sea Salt and Burnt Sugar Stout was especially tasty. It offered a pleasing clash of flavors.

Simpson explained: “It’s very difficult to get the balance of salt and sugar right. The saltiness and the sweetness carry each other a lot better with the bitterness of a stout than they would in a lighter ale or beer. The Admiral hops give you a nice background bitterness with a slight green note. … You’re hit initially with a little bit of roast barley and sweetness from our burnt sugar, then leading into subtle saltiness and ending with a pleasant bitterness.”

Porterhouse brought four stouts, including the only oyster stout brewed in Ireland.

Simpson was grinning from ear to ear as he showed me Guinness’ barrel-aging stouts: Antwerpen Export Stout and West Indies Porter, both in rye bourbon barrels.

“Best job in the world,” Simpson said. “And the best part is seeing people enjoy it.”

Simpson and the other Open Gate brewers recently brewed a Kettle Sour—the first time Guinness has ever brewed a Sour style.

The beer app Untappd awarded a Stout Day badge for anyone logging in a stout beer on Nov. 3. In the U.S., there were 377,718 total check-ins. In the Netherlands, Stout Day saw 16,539 check-ins, and in the United Kingdom, there were 16,582, numbers followed by Canada, Sweden, Norway, Brazil, Germany, Australia and Finland.

The top-logged beers via Untappd were Guinness Draught, Stone Xocoveza (2016), Founders Breakfast Stout, and Left Hand Milk Stout Nitro. The top cities on Stout Day were Chicago, New York City, London, Philadelphia, Portland, San Diego, Seattle, Washington, Denver and Austin.

International Stout Day brings stout-beer lovers around the world together and gives the variety of beer a day in the spotlight—which it so rightly deserves.

Start planning for next year at www.StoutDay.com.

Published in Beer

Celebrate all things beer in November with both Coachella Valley Beer Week and the sixth annual International Stout Day!

Each year, beer weeks celebrate the culture and community of craft brewers across the United States—and Coachella Valley Beer Week, which I am organizing, will commence for the second time, on Nov. 11. Before I get into the details of what will be happening here in the desert, let’s get into the history of beer weeks, why they exist—and why they’re important.

Back in 2008 (the same year when I started The Beer Goddess website), Joe Gold, of Victory Brewing (who would become the founder of Baltimore Beer Week), traveled to Philadelphia to talk with some beer loving friends: Tom Peters, of Philly’s Monk’s Café, and Don Russell, the “Joe Sixpack” columnist. They discussed the possibility of a week-long celebration of beer.

Thus, Philly Beer Week was born. It started the “beer week” tradition in 2008 and today is the country’s largest, boasting more than 1,000 events. The area boasts more than 400 beer bars that feature craft beer and food.

In 2011, I spoke with Greg Koch, of Escondido, Calif.-based Stone Brewing, about beer weeks and how they help a community. (Side note: Stone just went through a massive layoff, perhaps because the brewing company grew too quickly—but that’s a topic for a whole other column.)

“I like it, because I think that the most important thing about beer weeks is that it moves the needle … among people in a region,” he said. “When you have all these events going on, and then it gets in the papers, and they’re even maybe mentioning on the evening news or something, and all the bars are promoting it, that causes not just beer fans, but just the more average beer consumer, to perk up and go, ‘Huh? I wonder what this is all about.’”

Since 2008, beer weeks across the nation have been popping up to celebrate the craft and the people behind the craft.

It should be repeated why these beer weeks exist: At its best, the craft brewer embodies not only an entrepreneurial spirit, but also a basic human kindness toward his or her fellow brewer, as well as an infatuation with the art of brewing, and a respect for its American consumers.

Beer weeks also show off the vitality of today’s American brewing community, which is using ridiculous amounts decadent ingredients and embracing radical beer styles. Breweries that celebrate beer weeks believe in collaboration and, generally, are incredibly welcoming and egalitarian.

This brings us to Coachella Valley Beer Week, a 10-day area celebration of local and original beer. This year, we are celebrating with festivals in Indio and Palm Springs, a brewmaster beer dinner at the Purple Room, an art-and-beer painting event at Coachella Valley Art Scene, a BBQ and Beer event at Stuft Pizza, an event at the Date Shed, and much more. See the complete and updated schedule at www.coachellavalleybeerweek.com.

Let’s talk a little more about the “Beer Craft” event at 7 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 17, at the Coachella Valley Art Scene in the Westfield shopping center in Palm Desert. CVAS is dedicated to advocating local art and culture at their Westfield pop-up art space, MAKE. Come check out the scene while listening to tunes and trying some tasty brews. Guests will get to decorate beer bottles and help make an interactive sculpture using them. It will be a night of fun with crafts, music and craft beer!

However, Coachella Valley Beer Week is not the only beer event worth celebrating in November: On Thursday, Nov. 3, pubs, breweries and restaurants around the world will once again celebrate that iconic beer style—the stout, with International Stout Day. Guinness itself will be hoisting a pint with a special celebration of their own at their new Open Gate Brewery in Dublin on Nov. 4.

Since 2011, Stout Day (which I helped create) has grown by leaps and bounds, with events held around the world, in Australia, Spain, Ontario, Nova Scotia, England, South Africa, Ireland, Croatia, Sweden and nearly every state across the United States. Celebrate Stout Day by collect the Untappd 2016 Stout Day badge, and be a part of a revolution that’s being embraced internationally.

Published in Beer

Stout beers offer a soft, almost chewy richness—unlike any lager.

The sharp and roasted yet creamy flavor is delicious any time of the year—but these beers are especially lovely when the temperatures start to drop. These darker beers pack a cornucopia of flavors, with plenty of alcohol by volume to keep you warm and toasty.

It’s time to celebrate these beers: The Fifth Annual International Stout Day (an event I helped create) will be celebrated around the world on Thursday, Nov. 5.

International Stout Day has become a day of delicious celebration, a time when we salute this rich and complex style—and the brewers who craft it.

On this fine, roasted-malt-infused day, I recommend checking out some of these delicious beers:

Deschutes Brewery Obsidian Stout: Sharp coffee flavors and full-bodied hop bitterness are prominent, while the beer provides the warmth that’s common among great stouts. Espresso and dark chocolate notes lead the way. Noticeable in the background are touches of molasses and sweet milk chocolate. This is an incredibly well-crafted and well-balanced beer.

Surly Brewing Darkness: The massive Russian Imperial Stout uses Belgian dark and candi sugar, and features a different artist on the label every year. This year’s artwork is a nightmare bat. The world-class 10.3 percent alcohol-by-volume stout is now aged in whiskey barrels and offers an incredibly silky mouth-feel. There’s a ton of tart cherry, brown sugar, dark chocolate, molasses and date—offering the perfect level of complexity. The beer even has a day dedicated to it, when dark-beer lovers descended upon the gates of Surly in late October.

Great Divide Yeti Imperial Stout: This beer can be enjoyed any time of the year—but it’s especially fantastic during the winter months. The 9.5 percent ABV beer has a massive caramel and burnt-coffee malt backbone, with hints of dark fruit. The flavors layer beautifully and lend to a rich and creamy mouth-feel.

Alaskan Smoked Porter: Coming in with a relatively low 6.5 percent ABV, this beer has some extra flavor thanks to special smoked malts. Known as “rauchbier” in Germany, smoke-flavored beer didn’t really exist in the United States until Alaskan Brewery developed it in 1988. This brew has a nice, earthy character. Smoked chocolate, dark fruit and molasses all come through in this classic porter. Keep a look out for limited vintages on Nov. 1.

Anderson Valley Barley Flats Oatmeal Stout: Oatmeal is added to this brew for a silky smoothness—and a touch of sweetness. It’s a sweet appetizer beer. The taste is simpler and more candid than the European stouts. Roasted barley, caramel malt and velvety-smooth coffee dominate while sweet oats linger on the aftertaste.

Brooklyn Brewery Black Chocolate Imperial Stout: No actual chocolate is used in this beer—but the use of roasted malt and the process by which the grains are roasted give it similar flavors and nuances. With this decadent beer, you’ll not only pick up notes of chocolate, but coffee, vanilla, toasted bread crust, licorice and dark cherry. The mouth-feel is lovely with this indulgent 10 percent ABV beer.

AleSmith Brewing Bourbon Barrel Aged Speedway Stout: This beer is not for the faint of heart. This 12 percent ABV barrel-aged imperial stout has massive bitter chocolate and coffee aromas, with layers of raisins, bourbon and butterscotch. Sweet caramel and toffee flavors in the beginning blend seamlessly with vanilla, coconut and oak flavors. A nearby roaster delivers an extra helping of coffee for added depth and flavor.

Firestone Walker Velvet Merkin: This 2010 and 2011 Great American Beer Festival gold-medal winner starts out as the lovely 5.5 percent ABV Velvet Merlin Oatmeal Stout. Barrel-aging raises the ABV to 8.5 percent—and turns the beer into a decadent and incredibly drinkable stout. Dark-chocolate truffle, toffee, vanilla and coffee dominate the nose. The taste is only slightly muted, with notes of raisins, spicy oak, marshmallows and bourbon. It’s a beautifully balanced beer.

Goose Island Bourbon County Stout: The brewers’ notes indicate an intense mix of charred oak, chocolate, vanilla, caramel and smoke. The appropriately named beer won a gold medal in 2006 at the World Beer Cup Awards in the Wood and Barrel Aged beer category. Bittersweet cocoa powder, molasses, fig jam, vanilla and toasted coconut flavors create a lovely beer.

Boulevard Imperial Stout: This is a special blend of barrel-aged beers coming in at 11.8 percent ABV. Grainy toastiness, oak, coffee and spicy hops balance beautifully with date, brown sugar and plum notes. The imperial stout is a blend of fresh beer and several barrel-aged beers. Spice, chocolate and hovering alcohol warmth play a big part in this balanced beer’s charm. Serve in a tulip glass, and pair with roasted meat or smoked cheeses.

Locally, Coachella Valley Brewing Co. will have its Black Widow and Whopper stouts ready for Nov 5.

Don’t forget to check in to Untappd on Nov. 5 to grab your special edition badge. Unlock it by checking into any style stout on that day.

Raise your glass to this historic and iconic beer style—and toast the craft beer revolution. Visit stoutday.com for more information.

Published in Beer

I like my beer like I like my men: tall, dark and handsome. And what is the darkest beer of them all?

Well, hello, stout!

Stout originally meant “proud” or “brave,” but morphed into “strong” after the 14th century—and this handsome, brave and strong beer now has its own day of celebration.

International Stout Day will be celebrated for the third year on Friday, Nov. 8. How did this boozy holiday come to be? I’ve always been intrigued with the idea of celebrating a beer style or locale. Just like vineyards and the resulting wines tell the story of the people, the weather and the land behind them, beer also tells a story about its creation. In 2011, I reached out to other beer bloggers and breweries—and the day was born.

The first stouts were produced in the 1730s. The Russian imperial stout was inspired by brewers in the 1800s to win over the czar. “Imperial porter” came before “imperial stout”; the earliest noted use of “imperial” to describe a beer comes from the Caledonian Mercury of February 1821, when a coffeehouse in Edinburgh was advertising “Edinburgh Ales, London Double Brown Stout and Imperial Porter, well worth the attention of Families.”

Guinness has been brewing porters since about 1780 and is famous for its dry or Irish stout. Oatmeal stout beer is one of the sweeter and smoother stouts—and the fact that we today have oyster stout and chocolate stout is proof that society is ever-evolving. (The first known use of oysters as part of the stout-brewing process actually happened way back in 1929, in New Zealand.)

Thanks to today’s craft-beer revolution, you’ll find an amazing array of stouts—perfect not only for a chilly day, but for pairing with gourmet meals. Thankfully, Coachella Valley breweries and bars are celebrating on Nov. 8 with a variety of special beers and special events.

Babe’s Bar-B-Que and Brewhouse (71800 Highway 111, Rancho Mirage; 760-346-8738) will have two specialty stouts on tap: Anderson Valley’s Wild Turkey Bourbon Barrel Stout, and AleSmith Speedway Stout

To make the Bourbon Barrel Stout, the folks at Anderson Valley take their Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout and age it in Wild Turkey bourbon barrels for three months. Anderson Valley has an exclusive deal to get the barrels fresh from Wild Turkey’s “dumping room.” This ensures consistency and freshness in the barrel—and eventually, the beer. Despite the use of liquor barrels, the beer is on the lower side of the alcohol scale.

Alternatively, weighing in with an impressive 12 percent alcohol volume, the San Diego-born Speedway Stout starts with strong coffee and dark-chocolate sensations. Alongside sweet notes of molasses are alcohol heat and dark fruit undertones; this is a delicious beer.

Coachella Valley Brewing Co. (30640 Gunther St., Thousand Palms; 760-343-5973) will have Condition Black on tap. The black IPA is a marriage of stout and IPA styles—featuring the malt complexity of a stout, and the hop bitterness of an IPA. Using multiple dark-roasted malts like midnight wheat, barley, two dark crystal malts and chocolate malts, this Cascadian dark beer is a new style in and of itself. It’s not technically a stout—these beers typically lacks the roasted taste and body of a strong stout, but are much maltier than a typical IPA.

While Eureka! Burger (74985 Highway 111, Indian Wells; 760-834-7700) may be the new kid on the local restaurant block, the Indian Wells location of the Southern California chain is no stranger to craft beer and will join the festivities with stouts and barrel-aged stouts from breweries throughout the U.S. Stouts are always a tasty accompaniment to a juicy burger!

Stouts also make for a decadent pairing with a fine cigar, so visit Mel and the rest of the gang at Fame Lounge (155 S. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-320-2752) for a stout and cigar; they almost always have at least one on tap.

The craft-beer advocates over at Schmidy’s Tavern (72286 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-837-3800) in Palm Desert will be offering some savory stouts as well; their selection had yet to be announced as of our deadline.

While visiting these fine establishments, make sure you share your stout with your friends! Are you a member of Untappd? Log in and post what beer you’re drinking—and get the 2013 specialty Stout Day badge!

What other stouts should you look for and enjoy?

Brewery Ommegang’s Game of Thrones Take the Black Stout was released at the end of September and is available on draft and in 750-milliliter bottles. This stout is full of midnight wheat, roasted barley, Northern Brewer hops and chocolate malt. Check out the Ommegang website and click “find a beer” to see where it’s available.

• Founders Brewing can do no wrong. The world-class Kentucky Breakfast Stout is an imperial brewed with a massive amount of coffee and chocolates, then cave-aged in oak bourbon barrels for a year. The alcohol volume is 11.2 percent, so take your time, and savor this big beer. Smell the succulent scent of rich dark chocolate, plums, vanilla-cream, cherry, coffee and bourbon. The more you sip it, the more this perfectly aged beer will warm and reveal notes of bourbon and oak.

Firestone Walker Brewing’s Parabola is a whopping 13-percent-alcohol Russian imperial stout. Pouring a dark caramel-brown color, this delicately smooth stout has flavors of sweet malts, charred barrel notes, coconut, vanilla, bourbon spiciness and chocolate. The immense complexity is nothing short of artful. Watch for their “bottled on” dates—located on the necks or bottom left corner of the label. Buy a couple, and age one in a dark place to drink on next year’s Stout Day. It will take a little edge off the bourbon and round off the flavors. You won’t be disappointed.

Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout is brewed every winter, and the imperial stout has won numerous awards. What makes it special? The addition of wheat and specialty malts, and the use of three mashes. Beginning with cocoa, caramel malt and dark fruit, the beer features roasted bitterness, and finishes with pleasing alcohol warmth—as the chocolate continues to send ribbons of its bouquet to the palate. This is a wonderful stout.

Southern Tier Crème Brulee is an imperial stout brewed with vanilla coffee beans. Yes, please! You’ll find vanilla, custard and brown sugar in the nose. Serve this in a tulip glass, snifter or oversized wine glass. Want to really dive into dreamy decadence? Enjoy this with bananas foster or over vanilla ice cream.

Foothills Sexual Chocolate Imperial Stout gets the Beer Goddess award for the coolest name. The famed imperial stout has been brewed since 2007; the original Sexual Chocolate contains nine different malts and four different hop varietals, in addition to its “chocolate”—organic Peruvian cocoa nibs. Foothills Brewing has been awarded seven Great American Beer Fest medals since 2006; three of those went to Sexual Chocolate, as did a World Beer Cup medal in 2010. Because this is a limited release, you may not find it in time for this year’s Stout Day—so keep an eye out for the new version that will become available for next Stout Day!

• The 2013 Stone Espresso Imperial Russian Stout is part of Stone’s “Odd Beers for Odd Years” program, which began in 2011; the series introduces new, or “odd,” versions of Stone Imperial Russian Stout in tandem with the classic version during odd-numbered years. Stone Imperial Russian Stout is one of the highest-rated Stone beers and has a “world class” score on BeerAdvocate.com. The beer features espresso beans from San Diego’s Ryan Bros. Coffee; Stone brewmaster Mitch Steele notes that the coffee enhances the perception of the chocolate. The taste is substantial, yet balanced. The 11 percent alcohol volume is just slightly noticeable. Pair it with a flavored cigar like Java Robusto or Camacho Triple Maduro.

• Deschutes’ The Abyss American Imperial Stout pours an obsidian black, after being aged in bourbon barrels and brewed with licorice and molasses. The 11-percent-alcohol beer has barrel-aged character, but it’s never overpowering. Light nuances of oak, vanilla and bourbon give it great complexity. It’s definitely on par with a fine dark rum or bourbon as a mature sipper.

• The 2013 version of Allagash Fluxus has citrus notes. The beer is brewed differently every year to commemorate Allagash’s anniversary, and this year’s Fluxus is a porter brewed with a blend of 2-row, coffee and chocolate malts, as well as blood-orange pulp and zest. Yes, I’m including a porter on the list. I won’t go off on a craft-beer-style lecture, but I will say that “stout” has typically meant a stronger version of porter. So, close enough.

Three Floyds Brewing’s Dark Lord Imperial Stout is like chocolate mousse in a glass. Wonderful for aging, Dark Lord boasts an alcohol volume of 15 percent. Sweet molasses, coffee bitterness, caramel notes and dark fruit come in waves, all while offering a nice sweetness and a velvety mouth feel. All bow before the Dark Lord! This is a phenomenal beer.

Ten Barrel/Bluejacket/Stone Suede Imperial Porter is a chocolaty, higher-alcohol porter that’s a perfect collaboration beer for Stout Day. Tonya Cornett from Bend, Ore.’s 10 Barrel Brewing Company wanted a beer she could put in the cellar and enjoy for years to come. So, pick up a couple of bottles; enjoy one on Nov. 8; and tuck one away for Stout Day 2014. The sturdy yet velvety base of imperial porter holds up beautifully with the addition of the avocado honey, jasmine and calendula flowers.

Cheers!

Published in Beer