Sunday, March 16, 2014

A Stout History

1759 - Arthur Guinness signs a 9,000-year lease on an unused brewery at St. James’s Gate, Dublin. It costs him an initial £100 (about $147 US dollars) with an annual rent of £45 (about $66 US dollars) - this includes crucial water rights. The brewery covers four acres and consists of a copper, a kieve, a mill, two malthouses, stabling for 12 horses and a loft to hold 200 tons of hay. Arthur begins brewing porter and ale.

In honor of the St. Patrick's Day holiday we thought we would cover that classic beer style; the Stout. Although there are many stout styles outlined by the BJCP, there is one that is more prolific than the others, and we can thank the Irish for it.

American Stout
OG: 1.050 – 1.075, IBUs: 35 – 75, FG: 1.010 – 1.022, SRM: 30 – 40, ABV: 5 – 7%

Foreign Extra Stout
OG: 1.056 – 1.075, IBUs: 30 – 70, FG: 1.010 – 1.018 SRM: 30 – 40, ABV: 5.5 – 8%

Sweet Stout
OG: 1.044 – 1.060, IBUs: 20 – 40, FG: 1.012 – 1.024, SRM: 30 – 40, ABV: 4 – 6%

Oatmeal Stout
OG: 1.048 – 1.065, IBUs: 25 – 40, FG: 1.010 – 1.018, SRM: 22 – 40, ABV: 4.2 – 5.9%

Russian Imperial Stout
OG: 1.075 – 1.115, IBUs: 50 – 90m FG: 1.018 – 1.030, SRM: 30 – 40, ABV: 8 – 12%

Dry Irish Stout
OG: 1.036 – 1.050, IBUs: 30 – 45, FG: 1.007 – 1.011, SRM: 25 – 40, ABV: 4 – 5%

Of Course the Dry Irish Stout has been popularized by that iconic Irish brewery, Guinness. So how did the Irish (dry) stout come to be so popular? Well, stout is actually a relatively new type of ale for the Irish. Some kind of red ale is mentioned in am 8th century poem about Irish ale, among other beers from the around the Emerald Isle, but sadly the poem makes no mention of a Stout or other dark roasted barley beer. But the Irish have a long history of beer. Old Irish laws required farmers to have brewing equipment and room for malting beer, just so they would have beer on hand in case they had to entertain nobles. Laws also required brewers to adhere to specific malting practices. Seems like the Irish were even more strict about their country's beer production than the German's Reinheitsgebot.

While there are mention of red and brown ales in the UK before 1772 it seems like dark toasted malt wasn't used in excess until the invention of the malt roaster in 1817 made a smooth black malt available. The history of the stout starts a bit earlier though and in fact were not stouts at all, but porters. It is generally accepted that porters date back to 1722 and a London Brewer Ralph Harwood who made what was called an “Entire” which was a blend of different beers. Many believe this blend became popular with the dock workers and quickly became known as “Porter”. This already strong beer eventually broke into different variants of color and alcohol content; “export”, “stout, and “extra stout”. These British porters quickly made their way across the water to Ireland (and other parts of Europe), and large breweries put their own spin on it using their own yeast strains and local water. The Irish generally used mostly pale malt with just enough roasted malt to darken the beer, and with the porter's popularity growing, Guinness doubled down on the porter by excluding all other styles by 1799.

The Irish Stout was further defined by Ireland's tariffs on barley which lead to a lower gravity porter. The use of black malt lead to a darker smoother beer, and the Guinness version of the Irish Stout was born, and through shipping, marketing, and production volume (the Guinness brewery was the largest in the world for a time), their version of the Dry Stout became synonymous with the style itself like Budweiser is to the Standard American Lager.

So even though St. Patty's day may seem a bit trite, go ahead and drink an Irish stout and know that there is some very real history in your mouth.

Sláinte mhaith!

Want to know more about the Guinness Brewery:

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