5 Delicious Ways to Enjoy Irish Stout
You may associate Irish stouts like Guinness with St. Patrick’s Day, but there’s no reason why this style of beer should be relegated to a once-a-year tradition. Light-bodied and easy to drink, the Irish stout—or dry stout as it’s sometimes called—is a solid choice for any occasion. Here are five ways you can enjoy one:
1. Sip It Among Friends
OK, so this may not be the most creative idea, but the reasoning behind it may come as a surprise. According to beer expert and master cicerone Pat Fahey, the Irish stout is widely misunderstood. “People have this idea that the Irish stout—or Guinness in particular—is heavy, rich, and strong just because it’s dark,” he says. “But this style is typically low in alcohol by volume—somewhere between 4 and 4.5 percent—and pretty thin in body.” He adds that the Irish stout’s body may seem bolstered because it’s often served on a nitrogen (or nitro) pour, which means it has a lower level of carbonation.
Nevertheless, the Irish stout is a relatively light, easy-drinking beer that just happens to be dark, so you still get plenty of chocolaty, roasty flavors. And that makes this style a surprisingly good choice for sipping during a night out with friends. You can enjoy more than one without worrying about ill effects.
2. Mix It in a Beertail
Although some purists may scoff at the idea of mixing beers, many restaurants and bars now offer beertails, which are cocktails made from varying combinations of beer. For a beertail that plays on the idea of berries and chocolate, Fahey recommends blending an Irish stout with a fruity beer, especially one that has a fair punch of acidity and sweetness, such as a raspberry lambic. Chocolate-covered raspberries, anyone?
3. Use It in an Ice Cream Float
Ice cream floats made with beer? Oh yes, Fahey says. “Beer is a great medium for this, but think beyond vanilla ice cream,” he advises. “Try experimenting with fruit flavors—again, berry flavors are nice with an Irish stout—or you can try salted caramel ice cream, which tends to play really well with beer.” Whatever you do, be sure to heed Fahey’s advice: “Don’t be afraid to play around with different combinations and have fun with it.” For an extra dose of fun, serve up your floats in these stylish glasses.
4. Add It to a Cake
Although its light body may not lend itself to many cooking applications, there are several cake recipes that call for adding an Irish stout (usually Guinness) to the batter. We like this recipe for Guinness cupcakes because it uses Irish cream-flavored coffee creamer in the icing—the perfect complement to the roasty, chocolate flavors that Guinness imparts to the cupcake.
5. Pair It With Grilled Fare and Oysters
When pairing an Irish stout with food, Fahey recommends sticking to milder dishes. “It’s a relatively low-intensity beer, so if you pair it with something too intense or too sweet, you risk drowning out its flavor,” he explains. For pairing suggestions, Fahey calls out burgers and hot dogs—low-key grill fare—as good choices, noting the Irish stout’s coffee-chocolate profile links up nicely with char from the grill. It’s also refreshing, he adds, making it the ideal beverage for washing down picnic food.
The Irish stout’s classic food pairing, however, is oysters. “It’s a strange synergy,” Fahey admits, “but somehow the salinity of the oysters picks up on the roasty flavors of the beer.” (Don’t knock it before you try it.)
So the next time you’re in the mood for a brew, look for an Irish stout. Once you crack it open, you’re sure to feel like it’s your lucky day.