Beer of the Week is sponsored by the Lion & Rose. Each week, we introduce you to a wonderful brew that's a little bit different and well worth seeking out.
Samuel Smith's Oatmeal Stout
You may be singing a chorus of "In the Bleak Midwinter" when you open a bottle of this English stout.
The color is black as pitch, thick and impenetrable as it sinks into the glass. Hold it to the light and you may see some sparkle off it, a touch of red maybe, but that could be the glass as much as the beer itself. You'll not likely see much looking through it.
A nice head builds up but it dissipates to a lacy foam at the edges after a minute or so.
The aroma that greets you is one of sweet toffees and malts, a little dark chocolate, a touch of coffee grinds, and yes, a little oatmeal.
The Samuel Smith website
tells us this brew was made with water from "the original well at the Old Brewery, sunk in 1758, (which) is still in use, with the hard well water being drawn from 85 feet underground." Later, it was "fermented in ‘stone Yorkshire squares’ to create an almost opaque, wonderfully silky and smooth textured ale."
You'll notice just how smooth when you take your first sip. Though there is carbonation, it isn't overwhelming. Instead, it adds richness and a subtle life that thrills as it goes down.
The flavors are similar to the aromas, with brown sugar-flavored oatmeal mixing nicely with cocoa powder, coffee and toasted malt. The finish moves from the sweet to the slightly bitter on the finish.
This isn't a beer to chug like you would a pilsner on a hot day. Instead, let it warm up a little before you open it. This beer should be drink at about 55 degrees, which isn't icy cold. The warmer temperatures will also release more flavors for you to enjoy.
Its natural complexity is one that you could sit and drink by itself all evening, contemplating all those dense flavors. But this oatmeal stout also goes well with food. The Samuel Smith site suggests pairing it with lobster with drawn butter or steak and kidney pie. I would add a few great partners off the Pub's menu: Dockland's Shrimp and Chips, Mushroom Ravioli and Mum's Meatloaf.
If you're looking for a little warmth this winter, give Samuel Smith's Oatmeal Stout a try.