|International Stout Day: A Dark Day But That’s A Good Thing|
|Tuesday, 06 November 2012 14:44|
When I first heard about the creation of International Stout Day I was completely overjoyed. After all, mothers have Mothers Day, fathers have Fathers Day, protestors have Waitangi Day so why shouldn’t there be a special day set aside to venerate us husky, fuller-figured gentlemen? Eventually, after much sniggering, my alleged friends broke it to me that International Stout Day was actually a worldwide celebration of Stout beer and, not only that, it is this Thursday.
When I clicked on the official International Stout Day website my eyes were immediately drawn to the recipe for Breakfast Stout BBQ Pulled Pork Sliders.  These bite-sized morsels contain many of my favourite flavours – beer, BBQ, pork and sliders – though the reference to breakfast is apparently because it uses a beer called Founder’s Breakfast Stout.
Several minutes later, I was able to finally able to click onto the page which outlined the mission and purpose of International Stout Day – Thursday 8 November 2012:
“International Stout Day is a worldwide celebration of the iconic beer style of Stout. Taking place in homes, pubs, breweries and restaurants; it’s all about celebrating the craft beer revolution, relishing in this beloved beer style, sharing your photos, tasting notes and events with the world.”
The Oxford Companion to Beer – edited by Garrett Oliver, owner of Brooklyn Brewery  – has an entry on stouts - written by Mirella G Amato, founder of Beerology in Canada. She describes stout as a:
“category of warm-fermented ale styles that are distinguished by their dark colour, generally an opaque deep brown or black, as well as a distinct roasted character that is often perceived as dark chocolate or coffee. Both of these qualities derive from the use of roasted grains used to brew these beers.” 
Stout originally meant “proud” or “brave” but it gradually came to mean “strong” from the 1500s on. For a long time it was the dominant style of beer in the world and there are a number of traditional and modern varieties including Irish Dry Stout, Traditional English Stouts, American Stouts, Milk Stouts, Imperial Russian Stouts, Oatmeal Stouts and, I would add, Oyster Stouts. Interestingly, the crew at International Stout Day argue that the first known use of oysters in brewing occurred in 1929 in New Zealand.
Appropriately enough, one of the extended range of stouts and porters that Malthouse will have available on International Stout Day (Thursday 8 November 2012) is the excellent 3 Boys Oyster Stout (6.2%). Made with Bluff oysters, it is silky, decadent, surprisingly sweet and deceptively not salty. It is one of the rare dark beers to make my annual Top Ten list year after year after year.
Brewer Ralph Bungard also does a dry, toasty 3 Boys Porter (5.2%) in the traditional English style. However, he is never afraid to don his Mad Professor Hat and produce beers such as Beetroot Ale, Coconut Milk Stout, Peppermint Stout and his famous/infamous Three Boys Pineapple Lump Porter. Drinkers will be disappointed/relieved those last four beers are not available at Malthouse, for now at least.
Known best for his aggressive even insolent use of American hops, Luke Nicholas from Epic Brewing Company has put a lot of effort into expanding his range of dark beers recently. One of his more recent offerings is Epic Double Stout (7.77%), a non-traditional Imperial Stout with tonnes of hops and an implausibly precise alcohol content.
Known best for their throwback haircuts and fashionable tight pants, Stu and Sam are the Yeastie Boys. Their flagship beer is Yeastie Boys Pot Kettle Black (6%), a very modern American porter looking to be “fresh and hoppy, yet rich and dark.” Bottom line: it is.
One of the first dark beers I drank was Tuatara Porter (5%). Sometimes over-looked in favour of assorted hop-bombs  and fruit-infused brews , it is a smooth, chocolate, softly-spoken English-style porter. Moa Imperial Stout (10.2%) is a different beast entirely. It is a seasonal release which has been aged in Pinot Noir barrels  which is accurately described by the brewery as “upfront” and “very strong”. It’s also one of the highlights of their range.
Of course, it would not be a festival of stout without the most famous dark beer in the world – Guinness (4.1%) – being available. Leading the Australian contingent for International Stout Day at Malthouse is the boisterous Bridge Road Robust Porter (5.3%) from Beechworth and the ever-dependable legend Coopers Best Extra Stout (6.3%) from Adelaide (City Motto: United for the Common Good).
Finally, this is a reminder that Friday 9 November is the 1st Annual Malthouse Old World IPA Challenge from noon. Six craft brewers will offer up their unique takes on traditional, “proper” English India Pale Ales.
Next time, we eat corporate takeovers.
 I have been somewhat obsessed with sliders – literally small bite-sized burgers – since viewing Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle. That was the movie which re-launched the stagnant career of (Sir) Neil Patrick Harris and destroyed the vibrant careers of everyone else who appeared in it.
 He is also author of the excellent book At the Brewmasters Table and he liked a post on my Facebook page last week.
 When a sentence mentions the “use of roasted grains used” then it probably needed a bit more editing…
 I plead guilty.
 I plead not guilty.
 The benefits of brewing next to a vineyard.
International Stout Day Official Webpage - www.stoutday.com/