Wednesday, March 28, 2007
In northern England's county of North Yorkshire lies the city of Tadcaster. The Old Brewery at Tadcaster is, fittingly, the country's oldest beer brewery; this is where the Samuel Smith brand is brewed. I celebrate Samuel Smith's entire catalog. But, this week Oatmeal Stout takes center stage.
In the 19th century, oatmeal stouts were marketed as nutritional beverages for lactating mothers. While not the angle used any more, the style lives on. After World War I, oatmeal stouts were all but extinct until The Old Brewery revived them during the last quarter of the 20th century.
Another interesting note about this beer is that it is a vegan good. In fact, all Samuel Smith's beers are registered with The Vegan Society.
As I cracked open the 18.7 oz. bottle of Oatmeal Stout and poured it into my glass, I was intrigued by its opacity. So intrigued that I held my glass in front of a lamp to see if any light could escape. None did.
The chocolate-like head that arose upon the initial pour was impressive, though its stay was far too short. A decent lacing lined the edges of my glass for the first few sips and then began to steadily dissipate with each sip.
After I was finished admiring the richness of its color and head, I took my customary whiff from the top of the glass. The aromas of malt with a hint of coffee and an even smaller hint of molasses made it obvious that this beer was going to be flavorful.
As I took my first sip, the smell didn't disappoint. I detected a sweet, malt base with subdued hints of coffee, an effect of the roasted barley. This beer is brewed with oats, though I didn't detect them at all.
The carbonation is unassuming in this beer. It seems to be the perfect amount—the beer is clearly not flat, yet the carbonation can easily go unnoticed.
Oatmeal Stout is a bit strong to be a session beer, for sure, but the next time it crosses your path, I recommend giving it a try. If it's too heavy for your tastes, pour the rest over ice cream.