Dallas Craft Beer Examiner
Crickets chirping. That’s what you find when you go looking for a good, sessionable DFW stout. And as robust as our current craft beer scene is, that’s a downright shame.
Looking at local shelves and tap handles, it may appear that locally made stouts are plentiful. True, there are some prime examples out there of Russian imperial stouts, oatmeal stouts, sweet stouts, coffee stouts, barrel-aged stouts, and even stouts infused with chocolate, honey, vanilla beans, mint or raspberries. But if you look closer, these all skew strongly toward the heavy end of both the flavor and gravity spectrum, all clocking in at 8% ABV or much, much higher.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with these hefty, delicious stouts except that they are, well, pretty strong both in alcoholic kick and weighty calorie-laden, palate-crushing tastes. In their rush to the highest ground, North Texas craft brewers seem to have overlooked the other end of the stout spectrum that consists of richly flavored yet pleasingly drinkable stouts such as the dry (Irish) stout and its slightly hoppier cousin, the American stout.
The best-known example of the dry stout is Guinness, the archetypal Irish stout produced by a corporate giant that has near universal market saturation with a modest 4.2% ABV. For an American stout, you will have to reach out to breweries to our south (the seasonal Saint Arnold Winter Stout, 5.6%) or to beers brought in from out of state like Sierra Nevada Stout (5.8%) or North Coast Old No. 38 Stout (5.4%).
The Dallas/Fort Worth area just does not produce anything comparable. The closest we have in this category would be a couple of foreign export stouts, a slightly stronger style originally brewed for dedicated sales outside the country of origin such as Mother’s Little Fracker from Revolver Brewing (7.5%) or Braindead’s Export Stout (6.6%). Shannon Brewing makes a fine Chocolate Stout (5.7%) and Cobra Brewing has an award- winning “brownie stout” named Best Mistake (6.5%), both with ample cocoa natures. Martin House has There Will Be Stout (6.5%), a unique stout brewed with crushed sourdough pretzels that imparts a good salty quality. FireWheel’s Midnight Ninja started out close (6.5%) but has since drifted up to 8% ABV, and even that will not be around any longer as FireWheel Brewing announced they would close later this month.
North Texas craft brewers have shown they are not afraid to take on any beer style, even the rare, obscure and historical. We have available to us black ales, black lagers, dark IPAs and even black saisons, and we have plenty of all shades of porter. Brewers seem to embrace the low-end, hoppy session beers but few have tackled just a plain, enjoyable stout.
Here is a gap in the present market that one of our fresh, new breweries should grab as soon as they can. If I’ve overlooked any local sessionable stouts, please send me a note so I can go drink a lot of it.