Imperial stouts get a bad rap. They lack the incandescent glow of a New England-style IPA or the dazzling effervescence of a Belgian golden ale, and they have a reputation of being dry and bitter. But there’s a sweet reason for the stout averse to embrace these dark delights: pastry stouts.
Pastry stouts emulate desserts like cake, ice cream and candy bars by using ingredients that include vanilla beans, coconut, chocolate and even marshmallows, satisfying a sweet tooth and sparking feels of nostalgia. This year, skip the trick-or-treating and try these instead.
Weathered Souls Brewing Co.
Brewer Marcus Baskerville was inspired by a childhood love of ice cream sundaes when he crafted this beer. “Strawberry is my favorite ice cream flavor, and you can never go wrong with adding chocolate and vanilla to a stout,” he says. Made with strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, cacao nibs and Madagascar vanilla beans, this is a creation that would put Ben, and possibly Jerry, to shame.
Off Color Brewing
Modeled after the popular campfire treat, this is made with marshmallow, molasses, graham flour, cacao nibs and vanilla beans. Why dinos? When the brewery celebrated its launch, a local pastry chef made dinosaur-shaped s’mores that were served alongside the beer.
Crème Brûlée Stout
This imperial milk stout pays tribute to the classic French dessert with intense vanilla creaminess, thanks to lactose (milk sugar) and a prominent burnt-sugar flavor. Though it’s light on the palate, beware: This clocks in at a hefty 10% abv.
Noa Pecan Mud
As a child, Brewer Henok Fentie dreamed of becoming a pastry chef. With this extra-fudgy, nutty beer, Fentie’s dream is realized. Harkening back to after-school snack cakes, this is a great way to end the workday.
Snowbirds Imperial Stout
J. Wakefield Brewing and Other Half Brewing Company
A collaboration between breweries in Miami and Brooklyn, New York, this is made with chocolate, coconut and toasted Marcona almonds. With its sinfully rich flavor, it’s an ideal choice for fans of a certain joyous almond chocolate bar.