Here’s a radical thought: Maybe certain beer styles that breweries traditionally peg as seasonal releases can be enjoyed any ol’ time of the year. In Texas, for instance, stouts tend to vanish from store shelves and tap walls in high summer, but even in three-digit temperatures, the complex, multidimensional beer can be enjoyable.
At least it is for me. After all, despite common perception of the style, not all stouts are heavy and high in alcohol. And their flavor notes, such as coffee and cocoa coming from the amount of roasted malts used to make the midnight-hued brews, are year-round palate pleasers.
So as we head into March with days that feel more like winter than December and January did this season, consider adding these Texas-produced stouts to your fridge or trying them at your favorite local watering hole. The weather’s going to change again soon, but don’t let your taste for these full-flavored brews die out when the spring flowers arrive. You just might find they become a year-round craving.
4th Tap Supernaut Imperial Stout
Jester King Brewery has regular guest taps, but I rarely seek them out because I can have the Hill Country brewery’s top-rated farmhouse ales instead. Not so when 4th Tap’s Supernaut Cookies & Cream Stout was around. The current variant, newly launched, is Peanut Butter & Jelly, which is sure to remind you of a cherished childhood snack in boozy liquid form.
Brazos Valley Brewing Slippin’ Into Darkness Russian Imperial Stout
A splash of maple syrup and a whole lot of cold-brewed pecan coffee will make this high-octane, pitch-black brew taste like we’re having breakfast for dessert. Cans of Brazos Valley are plentiful in Austin, but the skilled beer-maker has also given travelers between this city and Houston very good reason to linger in Brenham. Slippin’ is especially worth savorin’.
Circle Nightlight Dry Irish Stout
The most famous Irish beer takes a couple minutes to pour and is served on nitro for maximum creaminess. Circle’s Nightlight isn’t a perfect replica of Guinness (as if we wanted it to be), though it does preserve at least one of those hallmarks of the classic stout. Expect a light, creamy body balanced with full-flavored notes of dry roast and subtle oak.
Frontyard Coffee Milk Stout
Coffee in beer has never tasted so divine. The best beer by Frontyard — which is building out a massive brewery and tasting room in the Texas Hill Country, with beers for now available via distribution only — is this stout made with roasted cold-brew coffee, milk sugar and Madagascar vanilla. It’s rich without being over the top, sweet without being cloying.
Pinthouse Pizza Working Stout
Known most for its hazy IPAs — including local bestseller Electric Jellyfish — Pinthouse proves its mastery at very different styles with beers like the Working Stout. Without frills or flair, this foreign export stout shows why stouts have never gone out of style. Espresso and dark fruit notes come to the forefront of the dry, balanced and surprisingly light beer.
Real Ale Shere Khan Salted Pecan Imperial Stout
An annual winter collaboration with Easy Tiger, Shere Khan roars to life as a warming combination of nutty notes and chocolate undertones, thanks to an addition of salt and pecans. Named for the villainous tiger in "The Jungle Book," the 9% ABV stout is on tap at the quickly expanding beer garden, where it is no doubt a killer pairing with an Easy Tiger pretzel.
St. Elmo Brewing Three
What kind of beer do you brew to celebrate three years in business? South Austin’s St. Elmo makes sure it’s as big as possible, a whopping 11.5% ABV imperial stout that you’ll want to sip nice and slowly, savoring each mouthful of robust liquid chocolate. St. Elmo also regularly keeps the 5.1% ABV Angus on draft, proving not all stouts have to be so boozy.
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Strange Land No Collusion Russian Imperial Stout
A Russian imperial stout recipe aged in American bourbon barrels? That explains Strange Land’s cheeky, topical reference with its No Collusion, a newly released barrel-aged treat full of oak, caramel and toffee accents. Once the Westlake area’s only brewery, Strange Land now shares a space with Rentsch in Georgetown.
Tupps Brewery Full Grown Man-Child
You might say the DFW-area brewery plays host to a colorful cast of characters — the Full Grown Man series of imperial stouts. The latest variant is the Full Grown Man-Child, with coffee and chocolate, that at 8.3% ABV is a little lighter in alcohol than the others. No, none of the bold flavor has been softened in the Man-Child; it’s just not as likely to knock you off your feet.