The State of Stouts in BC

The (very) recent introduction of Oskar Blues’ famous canned stout Ten Fidy to the BC market has prompted me to post up about stouts.   Stouts in general, at least as they pertain to BC.  Ten Fidy is my favourite non barrel-aged stout, which is a pretty bold statement to make.  I like stouts, and there are a lot of good ones.

FIDY1

Look at the colour of that head.  That is perhaps the most impressive part of this stout when it’s poured:  the head is a full shade darker than the dark tan head you’d find on a bottle of Old Rasputin, Narwhal, or any number of other Russian imperial stouts on the local market.  I’ll tell you another thing:  Ten Fidy is in another category altogether when it comes to body, too.  The stuff is thick, like motor oil thick.  But instead of being oily, it is sticky, like barely-dissolved sugar or molasses.  It is on the sweet side, and I know full well it’s probably too sweet for some folk’s palates, but for me it’s perfect.  It has that huge sweetness of chocolate, molasses, and burnt sugar but it’s also balanced off by a good hops presence as well.   There is a very powerful roast character along with the toffee sweetness.  Just awesome stuff, and the internet will back me up on that.

A lot of people get pretty defensive of their personal favourites in this department, for instance, North Coast’s Old Rasputin.  No doubt, Old Raspy is a golden standard of the style and I’m not knocking it.   Ten Fidy strikes a bit of a different balance:  more sugars, more viscosity.  It’s probably a personal thing.  But while Old Raspy is awesome, Ten Fidy is that much better for me.

I just finished a glass of another favourite:  Moa’s imperial stout.  The availability of Moa beers in BC has really expanded in the past few months, and this imperial stout in a 375mL corked bottle can be found any number of places now and for not too bad a price.  It has a rich roast with great hops and a good creamy body, though not quite Fidy-level.

So here are some fine locally available “regular” stouts I would recommend to anyone who likes stout:

  • Oskar Blues Ten Fidy
  • Moa Imperial Stout
  • 8Wired iStout
  • North Coast Old Rasputin
  • Sierra Nevada Narwhal

There are, of course, a slew of limited releases and barrel aged stouts locally available as well.  For instance, I’d recommend this year’s Black Butte XXV wholeheartedly while I’d say that Deschutes’ other annual stout release, Abyss, is actually runner up to the XXV*.  XXV showed a great balance between big chocolate and big bourbon this year; just delicious.  For a good bargain, Longwood’s Stoutnik is very drinkable.  Parallel 49 has released their Russian Imperial for the year, and just like last year it is good without being a must-have.

If you’re getting your growler filled, there are a few unique options available to you.   Brassneck’s Inertia stout is very tasty.  But my personal favourite, without a doubt, is Storm Brewing’s Vanilla Whisky stout.  Its availability is spotty but if the opportunity knocks, don’t pass it up.

* Technically Black Butte is a porter, not a stout.  I hold the opinion that porters are a sub-genre of stouts.  This is not an official stance.

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13 thoughts on “The State of Stouts in BC

  1. We do have some good locally-made stouts. Persephone and Lighthouse both make nice dry Irish stouts, if you don’t mind something a little less syrupy.

    Stout originally referred to stout porter, meaning a stronger porter. Then wars happened, alcohol levels dropped, tastes changed, styles diverged and the world moved on. I agree that the border between the styles is hazy.

  2. Hey, awesome! Thanks! Reading through this post, I will make one update: Black Butte XXV is not drinking as well right now. I just had a bottle and it was far better fresh, but I think it’s just between windows and will be good again in perhaps another 6 months!

  3. Good post, the other day I was thinking about porters and stouts in BC and for the most part we don’t have a lot of great ones (Central City’s barrel release was good). My go to porter is Deschutes Black Butte, just the standard release as it balances smoke, alcohol and flavour perfectly. I don’t have a good basic local porter that I can really think of to be honest, most are just ok or have been enhanced with vanilla, maple. chocolate, oatmeal or pumpkin. Now there are some great imperial stouts here (Parallel 49, Singularity) and some nice attempts by Deadfrog and others, but i really don’t like any that have a black licorice taste to them (sorry Howe Sound and Longwood). No one has really nailed a good basic version of that here.

      • Lol, like I said I don’t like licorice and beer together, so Stoutnik (I get licorice from this one) and Megadestroyer are out for me. I have a Dark Matter to try which I have heard is good despite poor ratings online.

    • I agree that BC is lacking in good local stouts. Even P49’s RIS and Singularity are decent at best, to be honest. After drinking Parabola, BCBS, etc – we have nothing even remotely as good as those beers. Alesmith Speedway as well. Narwhal 2013 has improved vastly since fresh already, it’s sublime right now.

      Powell Street and Brassneck have both put out some nice porters lately but nothing that would garner wide-reaching acclaim. I haven’t tried Bomber’s shut-out stout but I hear it’s pretty good.

      • Bomber Shut Out was ok, I would take Bridge All Out Stout over that, it had some interesting flavour, a bit smokey and the oatmeal worked better with it.

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