Shout out to stouts

Robust, dark ales please the breakfast lover’s palate

By Hayley Fudge

Photo: “Stouts are embraced by breakfast lovers who enjoy the tones of oats, chocolate, coffee,vanilla, maple syrup, milk and even peanut butter.”

With colder weather and darker days always come the darker beers. A full-bodied dark ale can seem the perfect remedy for warming up on a blustery cold night. Winter seasonals—winter warmers, spiced ales and other full-bodied beers—start popping up everywhere. But don’t overlook the always-available stouts, which provide a touch of warmth year round.

Stouts have been around a while: they originated in the 18th century when British brewers expanded their offering. Following their exports of pale ales to troops in India, they ventured into darker ales such as stouts and porters. Porters are essentially the grandfathers of stouts, the heritage from which the style evolved. The biggest difference between stouts and porters is the kind of malt used during brewing. While porters use malted barley, stouts primarily use unmalted roasted barley. That unmalted barley is what gives stouts their defining coffee flavors. Porters also tend to be slightly lighter and less full-bodied than stouts.

In the years that have followed, American brewers now dominate the stout-brewing game, and in recent years, stouts have skyrocketed in popularity. It used to be that the word stout was synonymous with Guinness, the poured pride of Ireland. Now there are many stout varieties, including those dry/Irish stouts, oatmeal stouts, milk stouts, chocolate stouts, coffee stouts, oyster stouts and the massively popular rich, luxurious high-ABV imperial stouts.

Stouts can be brewed to a variety of strengths, but are often misunderstood. Macrobeer-loving swillers and calorie-counting consumers assume that their dark colors always equate to heavy beers with mass caloric content. In fact, 12-ounce serving of Guinness, for example, has only 125 calories, only about 15 more than the same serving of Bud Light. It’s only 4.2 percent ABV. On the other end of the scale is the highly sought after and aptly named Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout, brewed in Grand Rapids, Michigan. This coffee-centric meal in a glass clocks in at 11.2 percent ABV and has about 336 calories a pop. The beers’ dark colors come from the roasted barley and malts used in the brewing process.

Stouts also bring versatility to the day-drinking game that most other styles lack. Some call it hair of the dog. Some see their robust bodies as a natural progression from their morning coffee. Some can only stomach oatmeal when it provides flavor to a beautiful, dark brew and is served in glassware. Breakfast lovers who enjoy the tones of oats, chocolate, coffee, vanilla, maple syrup, milk and even peanut butter embrace these beers. These are just some of the definitive flavor components that dominate this beer style, often referred to as breakfast stouts. The stars align when you can enjoy a most perfect stout paired with the most important meal of the day.

Home brewers are also quite fond of stouts. They are one of the more simple styles to craft and welcome the brewer’s custom additives that make them unique and enjoyable to the individual. These beers often get better with age unlike India pale ales.

You don’t have to go far at all to try out some excellent examples of this style. Stouts are prevalent among the most highly rated Ohio beers on websites such as and And many stouts brewed here are some of the most sought-after nationally by craft consumers, including those from Jackie O’s Pub & Brewery in Athens, Great Lakes Brewing Company in Cleveland and Hoppin’ Frog in Akron, along with several others. Hit your bottle shop and ask for Jackie O’s Dark Apparition, Hoppin’ Frog B.O.R.I.S. the Crusher or Great Lakes Blackout Stout. Even better, seek out the barrel-aged versions and flavor variants of these three examples. It’s an experience you won’t soon forget.

Locally, you’d be hard-pressed to find a brewery taproom that doesn’t offer a stout. Ten you should seek out around town are: Night Ender from Toxic Brewing Co.; JoJo’s Stout from Fifth Street Brewpub; 10 Ton Oatmeal Stout from Warped Wing; Prowler Oatmeal Stout from Yellow Springs Brewery; Java Man Cometh from Dayton Beer Company; Rabbit Hole Imperial Chocolate Stout from Hairless Hare Brewery; Thunderball Oatmeal Stout from Eudora; Wicked Mutha from Lucky Star Brewery; Milk Stout from Star City Brewing; and Coffee Boy from Lock 27 Brewing.

If you haven’t ventured into or kept up with the ever-evolving offerings, consider these next few chilly months prime time to get back into the stout game.

Hayley Fudge is one of Dayton City Paper’s Resident Beer Geeks. An enthusiast of craft beer and the culture that surrounds it, Hayley aspires to share her love of beer with others by whipping up beer-infused cupcakes on the regular. Reach Hayley Fudge at

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Hayley Fudge
Hayley Fudge is one of Dayton City Paper’s Resident Beer Geeks. An enthusiast of craft beer and the culture that surrounds it, Hayley aspires to share her love of beer with others by whipping up beer-infused cupcakes on the regular. Reach Hayley Fudge at

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