Leaves are falling, the Panthers are playing and there’s a distinct chill in the air. You might know it as fall, but I call it stout season.
Okay, so I didn’t coin that phrase, and I drink stouts year-round. But it’s hard to deny that they are best enjoyed in these cooler months between now and spring.
Our local brewers agree, with many set to release an array of stouts over the next couple of months. And, since the line between stouts and porters is often a thin one, we’ve sprinkled in a few porters for good measure.
The sweeter side
Last week, Sycamore Brewing released cans of Special Brownies, a chocolate stout brewed with organic chocolate chips and cold-brew from Sycamore’s sister company, Beach Shack Cold Brew Coffee. Four-packs of the beer are $11.99 each.
This Saturday, Divine Barrel Brewing will release 50 cases of The Universe Is a Donut. The beer is a collaboration with Your Mom’s Donuts, which supplied the 50 pounds of glazed donuts that went into the beer. The 10.5 percent ABV imperial stout was also brewed with lactose, vanilla, cocoa nibs and espresso beans from Villain Coffee. That should hold you over until November, when the brewery will release cans of Defensive Pancake, a maple vanilla porter.
Southern Range Brewing Co. of Monroe will welcome back its popular Cookie Doh! Imperial stout this week. Cans will be available in the taproom, as well as area bottle shops.
Triple C Brewing recently collaborated with Tampa’s Hidden Springs Ale Works to create a beer inspired by “what Elvis might eat.” PBB&B Sandwich Imperial Sweet Stout, according to the brewery, has flavors of “brownie batter, sweet peanut butter pie, chocolate dipped banana milkshake, and smoky, crispy, fried, candied bacon.” The brewery will tap this treat on Halloween.
Cans of D9 Brewing’s seasonal German Chocolate Cake return on Nov. 18. The stout is brewed with pecans, coconut and, of course, chocolate. And Huntersville’s Primal Brewery recently tapped its Mother of Human Kindness, an export stout brewed with hazelnuts.
Nice and spiced
Prefer your stouts with a little kick? NoDa Brewing Co.’s Hot Pistol — a stout brewed with chocolate, raspberries and habanero peppers — is out now.
Birdsong Brewing’s MexiCali Stout isn’t far behind. The brewery will release cans of its seasonal — brewed with habanero peppers, cacao nibs, cinnamon and coffee — starting at 3 p.m. on Halloween.
Though they haven’t announced a date, also be on the lookout for a return of High Branch Brewing’s Yucatan. That imperial stout is brewed with cinnamon sticks, vanilla beans and local habanero peppers.
And just in time for holiday gatherings, The Unknown Brewing Co. will release Russian Roulette on Nov. 24. The imperial stout is brewed with chocolate and spices, with hints of smoked peppers. But wait, there’s more: One can in every four-pack is brewed with a puree of Carolina Reaper, which was until recently the hottest pepper in the world.
Jolt of java
Pilot Brewing has brewed its Cafe Latte Stout since opening in August of last year, but they work with a different local roaster for each batch. Currently on tap is an iteration brewed with a medium roast coffee from Undercurrent Coffee, and on Nov. 3 the brewery will tap one brewed with coffee from Gearbox Coffee Roasters.
Lenny Boy Brewing Co. recently released cans of Ground Up, a milk stout brewed with organic coffee from Counter Culture Coffee. And Heist Brewery dropped a fresh batch of Brunch Junkie, a 7.5 percent ABV oatmeal stout brewed with espresso roast coffee from Charlotte’s Central Coffee Co.
Triple C Brewing will soon release its popular Up All Night Breakfast Porter, for the first time in 16-ounce cans this year. Four-packs of the 10 percent ABV coffee porter will be released on Nov. 21 — and you can expect some draft-only variants on that day as well.
Many of the stouts mentioned so far have been just recently brewed, while others have been slumbering away in oak barrels for months.
High Branch Brewing will release New Tricks, an imperial stout aged on vanilla beans, pecans and maple syrup, on Oct. 26. The beer is a blend of three different stouts, and 60 percent of that blend spent time in bourbon barrels. Bottles of New Tricks will be $16.99 each.
Town Brewing will release Rakefire, an 11.1 percent ABV imperial stout aged in Woodford Reserve bourbon, on Nov. 22. The 500-milliliter bottles will sell for $12 each.
On Black Friday (Nov. 29), Gastonia’s Cavendish Brewing Co. will release cans of Tropical Fjord, an imperial stout brewed with local malt, fermented with Norwegian kveik yeast and aged on French oak spirals.
Triple C Brewing isn’t just canning Up All Night — the brewery is canning the barrel-aged version of that beer as well. Four-packs of the beer, which was aged in Buffalo Trace barrels, will be available on Dec. 12.
That weekend’s shaping up to be a good one if you’re a fan of barrel-aged beers, as NoDa Brewing’s Monstro returns on Dec. 13. The bourbon-barrel-aged Russian imperial stout is brewed with cocoa nibs and molasses, and quantities will be limited.
If you’ve read this far in search of more classic examples, don’t fret. Though not as popular these days as barrel-aged or pastry stouts, there are more traditional options to be had.
There was a time when most beers had a slightly smoky character to them do to the kilning process, and Free Range’s Kickin’ It harkens back to that time. Dubbed a “lightly smoked Carolina porter,” the beer is brewed with barley from Epiphany Craft Malt in Durham and sassafras smoked rye from Copper Fox Distillery in Virginia.
Legion Brewing recently re-released Slainte, the dry Irish stout that won the brewery a silver medal at last year’s World Beer Cup. On Nov. 23, the brewery will release Path to the Darkside, an oatmeal stout brewed with cacao nibs.
Cavendish Brewing Co. recently tapped its Dragonbane Oatmeal Stout. While that one’s a classic take on the style, the brewery also has two variants: one with vanilla and coffee, and one with coconut.
Finally, Wooden Robot Brewery just welcomed back Godless Killing Machine, a big and bold imperial stout that comes in at 12.5 percent ABV.