Since the greatest drinking day all year is slowly starting to become larger than just a blip on everyone’s radar, I figured it would be a great time to chime in with my top 5 Irish Dry Stouts. That smooth, creamy, roasty, inky abyss that, thanks to Arthur Guinness were all very familiar with and at times, can drink enough to fill up a small swimming pool without getting super full, or even better, super drunk. Thankfully, that makes it a very appropriate beer to be enjoying when some of us are at the bar at 8:00 in the morning on parade day.
The History of Irish Dry Stout
Truly a beer style that is associated more to one single brewery than any other style, Irish Dry Stout was born in 1759, when Mr. Guinness signed a 9,000 year lease on the St. James Gate Brewery in Dublin, Ireland. He had some experience brewing, but he made this move to make his fortune, and in an effort to capitalize on the success of London Porters, hired an expert porter brewer to help him. Intended to be a stronger, roastier version, it was originally called Stout Porter, although the Porter was eventually dropped and modern versions are brewed from a lower original gravity and no longer reflect a higher strength than porters. As of this writing, Guinness brews 20 versions of stout in more than 40 countries and sells it in 135 countries. An immensely successful and popular beer, as most bars that serve beer and have a stout on draft, most of the time it will be the big G.
Irish Dry Stout Characteristics
As were all aware, Irish Dry Stout is jet black to deep brown in appearance, with some garnet highlights here and there. It can be clear or opaque, and its second signature is its thick, creamy, long-lasting tan-to brown-colored head. They have a moderate, roasty, grainy sharpness of flavor, with some light to moderate acidic sourness and medium to high hop bitterness. The roasted grains provide a dry, coffee-like finish with some bittersweet or unsweetened chocolate character in the palate, and the creaminess will provide a lot of balance. Dry Stout can be medium light to medium-full in body, with low to moderate carbonation, and for a beer with high hop bitterness and a large proportion of dark grains present, this style of beer is exceptionally smooth. It’s no wonder so many of these stouts are served on a nitro system, because that’s what ices the cake for them in the smooth and creamy department.
Irish Dry Stout Food Pairings
Incredibly versatile with food, Irish Dry Stout may throw you a few curveballs with what it can pair with. Some versions of the style are actually brewed with oysters, because their briny texture and sea flavors pair so well with the dry, profound bitterness of the beer. Basically, any member of the shellfish family is a great call with this style, the sweetness from the sea is amplified ever so well when paired. Another great food family to place on the table with IDS is pork, be it ham, sausage, bacon or tenderloin, especially if it’s roasted. Most heartier, richer foods apply here, be it a meat pie, barbecued beef, a burger or a ribeye steak. Everyone out there, Irish or not, probably has a recipe for corned beef and cabbage, and a bottle of IDS is almost essential to be poured into the pot as the meat and veggies simmer away. And if you’re making a pot of beef stew and happen to run out of stock, (which happens to me WAY too often) a bottle of IDS will complement it magnificently. Cheese isn’t exactly a perfect partner here, but an aged Dubliner cheddar would work well. And as far as desserts go, fruit tarts or pies are an excellent choice, as is chocolate soufflé, tiramisu or mousse.
So there’s the (or my) 411 on Irish Dry Stout. I may get flamed a bit for not including the mighty Guinness on my list, but I digress. It truly is a magnificent beer, however I find the following 5 a bit better, if for any reason other than they’re a bit more unique and/or harder to find. IDS has yet to really be viewed, or brewed as a seasonal beer, but I have noticed the past few years that they are more prevalent in your local pub this time of year. Hopefully in the upcoming weeks when you’re giving your liver its annual test of resiliency and stamina, you can seek a few of these out instead of downing 14 of the aluminum Budweiser bottles with the shamrocks on them. On St. Patty’s day, that’s just not good game.
Beamish Irish Stout
Sly Fox O’Reilly’s Stout
[techtags:IRISH DRY STOUT, GUINNESS, MURPHY’S, BEAMISH, ST. PATRICK’S DAY, IRISH STOUTS, BEER REVIEWS]