As we discussed last week, Mountain Sun’s Stout Month — a month-long celebration of the dark arts — is a Boulder institution at it’s finest. But as a trip to Southern Sun this past Saturday proved, you knew that all along. Apparently doing something for 24 years helps build a following and by judging the scarcity of bar top real estate to be found, Stout Month has quite the following.
The beauty of this uptick in patronage is the Stout Month devotees (Stouties?) who come out in droves to engage with total strangers about malt, milk sugar and alcohol strength. But unlike politics and religion, Stouties are just as interested in your opinion as well. On a recent voyage through the throngs of thirsty patrons at Southern Sun, my barstool neighbor took interest in the long line of tasters in front of me and enlisted my expertise.
“What’s your poison?” he asks.
“Straight Stout,” I reply, taking another sip of the classic Dry Irish stout that sports a 5.6% ABV. Formerly known as the Old School Stout, Mountain Sun’s Straight Stout is smooth with a light nose and almost imperceptible alcohol, a damn fine beverage under any circumstance.
“You sure?” the man asks with a grin.
I take another sniff and sip, nodding my head in approval.
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Conversations like this are part and parcel of the Stout Month experience. Mountain Sun’s five brewpubs will feature at least 28 house and 29 guest stouts throughout February and with roughly eight house and three guest taps available at any given time, patrons wax poetically about the beers they had before the keg was kicked just as you walked through the door. One erudite gentleman, three pints in, described the Dark Harvest Pumpkin Stout as “plenty.” When I finally got my lips on the brew, I had to concur. Dark Harvest (7.5%) is brewed with over 150 pounds of fresh pie pumpkins and six spices. No pumpkin beer has ever tasted this good or this potent. The nose is loaded with cinnamon while the body is straight cream. It’s like biting into Thanksgiving dessert. Plenty indeed.
• • • •
As good as the Straight Stout and the Dark Harvest are, they’re merely warm-ups for the NIHILIST Russian Imperial Stout (10.1%), a beer that shouldn’t be drunk with dessert but a beer that should be drunk as dessert. The NIHILIST is dark as night with almost no rim variation, meaning this beast of a stout is as consistent as a Siberian winter. The taste is a chewy concoction of fruit and chocolate, but the key to the beer’s royalty is its balance of alcohol and flavor.
There were others — there always are — and there will be more: Coconut Cream Stout (6.3%), Fuff’s Travels S’mores Stout (6%), Megatron Imperial Stout (10.7%) and the perennial favorite, Girl Scout Stout (5.9%) — a unique blend of dark chocolate, milk sugar and peppermint. It’s like drinking a Thin Mint without being hassled by little girls in sashes.
Whatever your taste, Stout Month is still young and there is plenty more to discover. Just ask the chap down the bar what they’re drinking. Trust me, they’ll be happy to let you know.
On Tap: Mountain Sun Pub & Brewery. 1535 Pearl St., Boulder, 303-546-0886.
Southern Sun Pub & Brewery. Under the Sun Eatery and Pizzeria. 627 S. Broadway St., Boulder, 303-543-0886.
Vine Street Pub & Brewery. 1700 Vine St., Denver, 303-388-2337.
Longs Peak Pub & Taphouse. 600 Longs Peak Ave, Longmont, 303-651-7886.