Pastry stouts have become commonplace in many markets across the world. Brewers have begun to expand on flavors to create dessert like beers—taking stouts to a different level. Flavors such as vanilla, chocolate, maple, cinnamon, coffee, strawberry, and coconut are a few examples of what you may find when visiting your local brewery. Some of these flavors are natural, some are not. At this point, consumers don’t seem to care.
In an age where people are constantly pushing the envelope, the more flavor the better. An unlikely area that is doing this well is Florida. Despite a year-round warm climate, these thick dessert-like beers have no trouble flying out the door.
Cycle Brewing is well known for Barrel-Aged Stouts and is ranked as one of the top ten breweries in the world by RateBeer. The variations of Rare Dos (ranging from hazelnut, coffee, vanilla, coconut, pecan pie, and more) are very popular with taproom visitors in St Pete. During Tampa Bay Beer Week in March, they will release five variants of Rare Dos. The final installment — landing Friday, March 9th to coincide with Barrel Aged Day at the St. Petersburg Shuffleboard Club — is sure to be a hit.
Another Tampa brewery in RateBeer’s top ten list is Cigar City Brewing. They also have a lot of beers that fall in the pastry stout category. While a number of these are in the El Catador bottle club, some can be obtained in the tasting room or at events. One such event is Hunahpu’s Day on March 10th at the Raymond James Stadium. Hunahpu’s is an imperial stout aged on cacao nibs, vanilla beans, chilis, and cinnamon. This is a personal favorite of mine when consumed fresh.
Coppertail Brewing Co, also based in Tampa, has a serious stout in this category that can’t be left out. Barrel aged Supervoid took home a gold medal at the Festival of Barrel Aged Beer in Chicago this last November. In an effort to push the limits even further, they created SuperDuperVoid. This was an aggressive treatment of tiramisu, s’ mores, strawberry, coffee, cinnamon, coconut, and Indonesian vanilla beans.
Across the state in Florida’s capital, Proof Brewing is also embracing the decadent stout jams. Recently they released S’mores Glass Emperor, an Imperial Stout with all the roasted marshmallow, milk chocolate, and graham cracker flavor of that favorite campfire treat, topped with a kick of bourbon. This is a can’t miss beer for the pastry stout lover.
On the international scene, Omnipollo in Stockholm is one of the best. If you want to see, just check out the top pastry stout list on Rate Beer. These guys are crushing it in the stout game, and even add a slushee on top. Make sure to visit if you make it to Sweden. The best part of emerging beer styles is that you don’t have to like them, or any style for that matter. This is something that is not going away anytime soon, and a lot of consumers enjoy. So get out there, dig around in the ingredients, and get weird. You can always send me a bottle and I’ll let you know what I think.