I am on a visit to Chicago at the present. I don’t understand why this is so fun for me but I always look forward to a trip to the liquor store to see what is on the shelf that I can’t get back in California. This time I chose Dark Horse Brewery’s Oatmeal Stout. I don’t know much about this Michigan brewer so I took a look at their website. The oatmeal stout is the first of five in a Holiday Stout Series the company has embarked on. They all come in four packs of 12 ounce bottles. The labeling is simple, much like you’d see on a homebrew.
It was a chilly night, somewhere in the teens, and I was pretty bundled up even in the house. This kind of weather is ripe for stout drinking. I’m a Guinness lover, have been ever since I had my first sip. When I first visited the emerald isle in 2007 I drank nothing but Guinness for those five days. It is one of the smoothest, most pleasant, and unique beers one can experience. How can something be unique that is so massed produced and so well known? I think most of us would agree that Guinness is the prototypical stout. The novice beer drinker asks: what is a stout? We reply: Guinness. It is the stout to which we compare all other stouts. It is our reference point in the world of stouts. Interestingly enough, however, is that there is not another stout out there that tastes like Guinness. In my opinion nothing even comes close. This has to do with a technique the brewers at St. James Gate use in which they sour a portion of the previous batch and add it to the current batch. This is the distinct and unique taste of Guinness. The water profile they use plays a part as well.
Dark Horse Oatmeal stout is nothing like a Guinness. The beer pours thick and viscous. It is quite a bit sweeter, has more of an alcoholic tinge, and the oatmeal aspect brings a certain creaminess to the arena. The reason I typically like Oatmeal Stouts is that they usually have a very smooth and lighter taste and I didn’t find this to be true in this particular ale. All in all I don’t think this beer was a repeat offender for me. With the plethora of beers out there to try this one didn’t leave its mark on me in a way that will have me crawling back for more.