Thursday, November 3, 2016

An historical foray for Stout Day

Copyright © 2016 The Beer Goddess.

Today, it's all about the stout. That's because it's International Stout Day, a celebration of dark, decadent brews that got its start in 2011. So, in the spirit of that, I offer up a short synopsis of stouts that have been available at different times in North Texas history. Hey, it's what I do...I read old books and old newspapers to learn about how our scene has evolved. Sometimes such explorations also involve the consumption of beer...and more often than not, what I'm drinking is exactly the kind of rich, roasty and/or chocolately brew that inspired the creation of the day.

Cheers!

Drinking stout in pre-Prohibition Dallas

North Texans were drinking stout, or at least a kind of beer that would evolve into what was called a stout (more on that in a moment) as early as 1873. "Brown Stout Porter" could be found for sale at area grocers alongside imported lagers and Scotch ales. Although many early listings don't credit the brewer, C.G. Hibbert of London was likely the supplier of the stout porter being advertised, since regular shipments of that brewery's beers were arriving at the Port of Galveston during the same period of time.

Dallas Daily Herald (Dallas, Tex.), Vol. 1, No. 42, Ed. 1 Sunday, March 30, 1873, newspaper, Dallas, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth279736/: accessed November 2, 2016), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu.

With regards to that other famous (or infamous?) stout, Guinness was being sold early on by locals as well (purportedly for medicinal purposes), though it doesn't show up in Dallas newspaper ads until around 1881. Shipments to Galveston show Guinness being sent to Texas by 1865, but it's not clear when it was first stocked in North Texas. Many times it was billed as Burke's Guinness Dublin Stout, due to the fact that Guinness didn't bottle its own beer until well after Prohibition. Back then, they used a network of bottlers to package and ship their beer to America. Edward and John Burke, who were grandsons of Arthur Guinness, owned one such distribution company and the U.S. was their largest market.
The Dallas Daily Herald. (Dallas, Tex.), Vol. XXIVII, No. 132, Ed. 1 Saturday, April 30, 1881, newspaper, Dallas, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth286467/: accessed November 2, 2016), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu
"Imperial" is the new "stout"

It's true! Well, sort of. During the 1800s, stouts actually grew out of a stronger version of porter usually referred to as "stout porter." Nowadays, whenever a brewery releases a stronger version of a particular style, they add the imperial tag (imperial IPA, imperial saison, imperial brown ale, etc.). So, if you think about it, given the seemingly similar style guidelines between porters and stouts, in today's lingo a stout could also be called an imperial porter. Looking at things in those terms, you might say "imperial" is the new "stout."


Big beers were a part of the '90s boom

In the mid-to-late 1990s, when brewpubs dominated the local beer scene after being legalized in 1993, stouts were actually relatively common. Yegua Creek Brewing Co., the area's first brewpub, was probably the first local spot to brew a stout, but at least a half-dozen other brewpubs offered a stout at one time or another. A couple of them were even award winners:
  • Copper Tank - Mocha Madness Coffee Stout, gold medal in the Herb/Spice Beers category at the 1998 Great American Beer Festival.
  • Two Rows - Imperial Stout, bronze medal in the Imperial Stout category at the 2000 Great American Beer Festival.
Something worth noting about these two beers is that brewers involved in their creation are still active in the brew scene today. Jon Sims, formerly of Four Corners, Oak Highlands and Texas Ale Project (but, now working at Wynkoop in Colorado), was an assistant brewer at Copper Tank in 1998, while Mike Kraft, currently the director of brewing operations at Wild Acre, was running the brewhouse at Two Rows in 2000.


The first locally-crafted stout beer and whiskey blend?

Speaking of Two Rows, that brewpub might have been considered ahead of its time based on one beer it produced. Years before barrel-aged beers would become commonplace, Two Rows whipped up a beer and bourbon blend called Wild Turkey Stout. If memory serves, it hit taps sometime around 2003, and much like the stronger beers of today, it was served in a smaller vessel due to its higher ABV.


Moving past the new Millennium

After the year 2000, Fort Worth's Healthy Brew included a stout in its organic lineup, while Great Grains of Dallas was brewing Wildcatter's Crude Stout, a recipe they licensed from the by-then defunct Yellow Rose Brewing Co. of San Antonio. The Covey in Fort Worth had one as well it called Smokestack Stout. That beer won a silver medal in the Smoke-Flavored Beer category at the 2009 Los Angeles International Beer Competition. Then, of course, there came Snowmageddon, an imperial oatmeal stout that commemorates the great roof collapse that occurred at Rahr & Sons in 2010.

While still being brewed by Yellow Rose Brewing of San Antonio, Wildcatter's Crude Stout
was singled out as a Gold Medal winner by the Beverage Tasting Institute.

Left: Armadillo's Quakertown Stout won gold in the Imperial Stout category at GABF in 2014.
Right: Sasquatch from 903 Brewers won silver in the Aged Beer category at GABF in 2015.

As for the here and now, North Texas currently has a plethora of obsidian offerings. Most are familiar with names like Community Legion, The Temptress from Lakewood and others, but let's not forget about the two locally-brewed stouts that have brought home major awards during the current craft beer renaissance (see details in the caption above). One, that being Sasquatch from 903 Brewers , is likely stalking your local store shelves as we speak. And, the other? That would be Quakertown Stout, the product of Denton-based Armadillo Ale Works...a beer that will re-appear in time for North Texas Beer Week.

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