Thursday, February 24, 2011

Out and About on the Hunt For Stout

These days, the Oshkosh beer depots are being crowded with piles of Guinness Stout in advance of St. Patrick’s day. And that’s just fine. But if you crave a black beer that’s a little heartier than the Irish breed, there’s plenty of dark around town to sate your demon. The stout season has arrived, and the burnt-malt enthusiast will find no shortage of fine liquidation that’s black as the snow lining Jackson Street.

We’ll start out at Fratellos’ Fox River Brewing where they continue their tradition of bringing out a chocolate stout each February. Last year’s model was brewed with Seroogy's Chocolate. This year, they’ve gone a different route aging the beer on cocoa nibs. The result is an excellent, medium bodied stout with a reserved dark chocolate flavor. This is an exceptionally smooth stout and at 5.1% ABV it’s suitable for a few rounds. Check out Fox River brewmaster Kevin Bowen’s notes on the beer here.

Over at the north side Pick 'n Save they’ve brought in Milwaukee’s contribution to the shamrock season with Sprecher’s Irish Stout. As the bottle says, this beer is “Fire Brewed”, which means nothing and the fact that they call it an Irish Stout isn’t telling you anything, either. It lacks the dry, slightly bitter quality you look for in the style and instead comes across with a  delicious, creamy stream of coffee and chocolate flavors that have nothing in common with Ireland. They may have gotten the name wrong, but they sure got the beer right. This is a limited release so get yours now!

By this time, all but the hardcore beer freaks have stopped reading so here’s a nugget for the diehards: Festival Foods in Oshkosh is now stocking one of the best beers in the world. This week they added Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout to their line-up. This 9% stout is something of a cult classic and one of the main reasons winter still exists. Get yourself someplace quiet, dark and warm and take a half-hour or so to sip this in and notice all those incredible flavors of licorice, coffee, burnt pizza crust, chocolate... Who needs a thaw when you’ve got beer like this!

That’s enough to get started, but there’s plenty more to explore. There are barrels of great stout to be had in Oshkosh right now. At Festival you’ve got Bell’s Double Cream Stout; Bell’s Kalamazoo Stout; New Glarus’ Coffee Stout; Central Waters’ Brewhouse Coffee Stout along with their excellent imperial stout, Satin Solstice; and over at Becket’s they’re pouring a fine black named Lilja's Sasquatch Stout. If all that’s not enough fer ya, get thee to O’Marro’s where there’s always plenty of Guinness.


  1. Old Rasputin.... yea, two of those and you feel like a monk.

  2. Definitely need some of these...

  3. Had Fratello's last night, I thought a lot more roastiness than chocolate.

  4. Yeah, I agree, Randy, the chocolate is pretty subdued.