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What's Your Favorite Sessionable Stout?

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[Photo: Maggie Hoffman]

The last time I saw Greg Hall of Goose Island, I told him he'd broken my heart by making their Oatmeal Stout draft-only. I've been searching for a replacement ever since.

I've had quite a few excellent imperial stouts lately:

Bitches Brew from Dogfish Head was gorgeous on tap, a little ashy, with hints of cigar box, coffee milkshake, and hazelnut.

I was totally seduced by Firestone Walker's Parabola, intense with dark cocoa flavor, hints of Nutella and nutmeg. My bottle, cellared since last summer, still had a bit of alcohol bite, but was remarkably well integrated.

I'm a big fan of the various strong stouts from Founders Brewing, but they're a commitment. And it's pretty hard to beat Sexual Chocolate from Foothills Brewing, with its rich, deep chocolate-and-fruity-coffee flavor and incredible balance, but I don't imagine I'll get my hands on another bottle soon. (Too bad, it's especially awesome with Robiola cheese.)

But as far as sessionable stouts go, I'm at a bit of a loss. I loved Firestone Walker's Velvet Merlin, with its clean, creamy finish, roasty toasted grain flavors, rich mouthfeel, and hint of near-portery lactic sourness. I'd happily pair it with slices of pastrami or smoked duck breast. I wasn't as wild about New Holland's The Poet, which was thirst-quenching but a little thin, with nice cocoa powder notes and a lingering espresso bite. I'm not sure I'd buy a sixpack. St-Ambroise Oatmeal Stout is on my yes-list, but I haven't had any since about this time last year. But enough about me—what are your favorite stouts?

What sessionable stouts should I be drinking?


Disclosure: All beers except the Bitches Brew, St-Ambroise, and The Poet were press samples.

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