Our first "Beer Buzz" column for Savannah Morning News!

When Do approached us about writing this new monthly column, we were more than thrilled for the opportunity to share our knowledge and love of craft beer with all of you. We’ve been in the beer industry for more than six years, each working in breweries in Georgia, South Carolina and now finally completing the dream of opening Southbound Brewing Co. here in Savannah. It’s been a long trip, but we’re almost ready to give y’all your newest hometown microbrewery.

In the shadow of the St. Patrick’s Day festivities, we thought we’d start this thing out with a summary and review of one of our favorite styles and the unofficial St. Patrick’s Day beer — a stout. It’s similar to a Porter but typically darker and stronger in flavor.

What’s the history of this classic beer, you ask? Many countries do their own version of it, and all differ based on tastes, available raw ingredients, customs and brewing equipment.

The first versions of the stout were developed throughout Ireland and Britain. Typical flavors include roasty, caramel, chocolate and sometimes coffee. Because of the unique water quality of these regions, a stout was a more suitable beer to brew for many because of its dark color and heavier flavors.

Though the style was popular in nature, World War II caused stout brewers some problems in England. With the higher costs of fuel during wartime, English maltster’s (those who produce malted barley from raw barley) production capacities were restricted in order to support the war effort. But no such restrictions were ever placed on Ireland because of the fear that it would “inflame” the Irish desire for independence.

Luckily for us, Guinness, the largest brewer of stout in the world, was able to stick it out. Their size, proximity to water and adoption of the O’Neill Harp (a mirror image of the Irish National symbol) definitely helped.

Guinness is likely the most well-known <strong>Irish Stout</strong>, which are typically dry. However, there are quite a few other varieties that shouldn’t go overlooked!

There’s the <strong>Sweet Stout</strong>, typically a blend of older mature ales with younger brews to produce a lingering sweetness.

Next is the <strong>Oatmeal Stout</strong>, one of our personal favorites. As the name suggests, an Oatmeal Stout is typically brewed by adding oats to the grist. This helps give the beer a nice creaminess, oat flavor and some seriously lasting head retention.

And as Americans, we love our hops and higher alcohol contents. The <strong>American Stout</strong> is roasty in flavor like most others, but typically has more of a hop presence in aroma, flavor and bitterness. Americans like to beef up the alcohol content to maintain a nice balance, which never hurts, either.

Give stouts a try if you haven’t before — every one is different and unique. Don’t let the dark color fool you — they’re full of flavor and just so happen to pair nicely with chocolate and BBQ. Cheers!