One of my favorite styles of beer is the humble stout, a style that seems to blink in an out of popularity. In the mid-80s, it was a cult beer, but attained prominence with the release of Obsidian. It was for some years the "extreme beer" on the scene, only to be supplanted in the new millennium by more glamorous extreme beers sporting the adjective "imperial." (Stouts, the ugly girl at the dance, kicking their toes in the corner, said, "but we were imperials first.")
But like women's shoulder pads and Duran Duran, what was out inevitably comes back in. I was at Belmont Station last night and basked in the selection of the venerable old black beer, ultimately selecting Ommegang's Chocolate Indulgence 10th Annivesary Ale ($13). I will confess that part of the lure of the stout is its narcotic effect. Some beers bring a gentle, cheery fizz to the back of my brain (in quantities of two); other, stronger beers a liquor-like slap across the cheek. Stouts confer a feeling like the sleepiness that comes after you've been out working in cold weather and have come in to a cozy, warm room. Ommegang's Indulgence, made with Belgian chocolate, scored high marks on this measure. A storm blowing in, and Sally and I settled into the fourth season of The Wire and goblets of chocolate stout.
(You could do better than Indulgence. The flavors are not quite as rich or articulated as I would like; the chocolate, hard to detect at cool temperatures, is a little bossy once the beer warms up. It would be a fine $5 beer, but thirteen? That raises the stakes pretty high.)
Anyway, cheers to stouts. There's still some time to lay in a few before the snows fly tonight.
Malting and brewing in Germany in WW I
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