Tomorrow is International Stout Day.

This is a day that has some personal meaning to me. My earliest days as a beer drinker were spent knocking back pints of Guinness in the cozy confines of the Irish pub scene in Boston, the city where I attended college.

375769_10200857997348344_1536319010_nAs you might have noticed, I like a pretty wide variety of beer styles – hoppy, strong malt bills, sours, sweets, bitters, and so on. There’s not a whole lot going on that I don’t appreciate, stylistically speaking.

But given the fact that the malty beers were really my introduction to what beer could be beyond what the macros offered, it’s a style that will forever have a place in my heart. That said, it is also a style that has always been seasonal for me.

And International Stout Day is happening during the right season.

This is not a style that works well during the summer. In spite of the fact that Guinness is actually a relatively low calorie beer, stouts go down…heavy. Even when they’re lower alcohol, they’re big, chewy beers with a lot of character and a lot of thickness. Things that I have never felt jived well with the hot weather of the summer.

When I got into stouts, they were a different beast than they are today. It was pretty hard to find any stout other than Guinness twenty years ago. And I was good with that. Give me a good Irish dry stout, and I was a happy camper.

But that was then, this is now.

Now…now there are all sorts of stouts out there for the sampling; those smooth Irish dry stouts with the thick, creamy heads; sweet milk stouts; your basic American stout, heavily influenced by the early days of stout, when the drink was decidedly porter-like; the fruity tropical stouts; the vaguely briny oyster stouts; the oh-so-chewy oatmeal stouts; your big, high ABV Imperial stouts, and, more specifically, Russian Imperial Stouts.

And then there’s tomorrow…a day to celebrate the variety of stouts that abound, that exist to tease and tantalize our palates with a variety of malts, roasted coffee and chocolate notes, and all those flavors that are good and homey. It is a beer for the fall, for the cold, and for the hearty. Enjoy your favorite tomorrow, and if you haven’t really delved into the world of stouts, then look at tomorrow as an opportunity to explore the rich flavors that the beverage has to offer.

A Little News From Brewer’s Alley

From our friends at Brewer’s Alley:

In an effort to raise awareness and funds for prostate cancer prevention efforts, the brewery staff at Monocacy Brewing Company, the Frederick, Maryland brewery that packages the Brewer’s Alley brand of beers, is holding a friendly competition. During the month of November, each of the male employees at the brewery is foregoing his razor and taking part in a social movement, “No Shave November.”

“This is for a good cause, and it gives us a chance to see Tom with a beard,” claims head brewer Todd Perkins as he laughs at the thought of brewmaster Tom Flores sporting whiskers. Proceeds from beer sales during the upcoming “Kick Prostate Cancer in the Cask” event, November 20, and “Big Beer Tuesday”, November 26, will be donated to Pints for Prostates, a registered 501(c)3 charity. These events are open to the public and will feature rarely released beer varieties from Brewer’s Alley.

Starting with freshly shaven faces on November 1, brewmaster Tom Flores, head brewer Todd Perkins and brewer Daryl Eisenbarth embarked on a month-long journey of growth and, for some, discovery. “This is the first time in over 15 years I have seen my lip and chin,” says Eisenbarth, “and my chin actually feels pretty cold.” The sacrifice of what was once stunning facial hair was worth the opportunity to enter this friendly competition with a clean slate.

Tapped and Uncapped

So, this week, I’m not going to give you any one specific beer recommendation. What I am going to do is remind you that for tomorrow, for International Stout Day, there are plenty of great places to grab yourself a pint of the frothy, malty beverage. Barley and Hops, and Brewer’s Alley both have house stouts that they serve year round, Flying Dog offers the Pearl Necklace (giggity!), and the Milkhouse Brewery also does a stout (but you might want to call ahead to see if it’s available before you head out there).

And if our local brewers aren’t quite your thing, you can always get your stout on at places like Bushwallers, Dan’s Taphouse (Boonesboro), Madrones (ask for the Old Rasputin), and possibly The Roasthouse, Cafe Nola, or JoJo’s. And these are just the places I can remember off the top of my head.

Until next week, be well and drink good beer.

Slainte, malty dogs!