Tar Heel stouts offer abundance of riches


Sunday, June 23, 2019

Since Gov. Roy Cooper officially declared April to be North Carolina Beer Month, I thought I’d focus this column on stouts from North Carolina.

You probably are saying well, I hope so, you are the Stoutwhisperer and this is the Carolina Brew Scene magazine. OK, I’ll take it to another level and focus on canned stouts from North Carolina.

What was once a unique sight has turned into something rather commonplace. It’s truly amazing the increase in canned stouts over the past couple of years. When I started my stout journey, the only canned stout that I recall was Oskar Blues TEN FIDY … and that came from Colorado.

Since then, the economics of canning have made it a much more palatable option for small brewers. For brewers, whether one has their own canning line or a contract canner is used, it’s all within reach for those who want to branch out beyond their taproom.

For stout lovers like us, canned stouts have become so prevalent, if you go to your local bottle shop, I’ll bet that the ratio of bottles to cans in the stout section has gone from 10:1 to perhaps 4:1 and is probably trending even lower.

I don’t know about you, but I find that canned stouts are fantastic. Whether 8-ounce, 12-ounce or 16-ounce, I find that cans are the perfect size for individual consumption. Sometimes the 22-ounce bombers are just a bit much for stouts — great for sharing, though.

Note that I’m not counting crowlers as part of my discussion; only canned stouts that find their way into distribution. Crowlers are a great way to introduce a brewer to the world of canned beer and provide direction and feedback on whether canned stouts are part of an overall strategy for a brewery.

As you look from the mountains to the ocean, I believe we have an abundance of riches here in North Carolina when it comes to canned stouts. Let me give you a brief tour of just some of the finer North Carolina stouts that are offered in cans:

■ Collaboration without Representation — Deep River Brewing, Clayton (16-ounce)

A wonderful annual collaboration with a local bottleshop, Collaboration is a great BA Stout that has a release day, matching glassware and a high demand! It holds its own with many of the more nationally recognized BA Stouts!

■ Breakfast Junkie — Heist Brewing, Charlotte (16-ounce)

Heist has a great lineage of brewing some amazing stouts and their Brunch Junkie lineup of stouts is one of their more popular ones. They do a great job on their Junkie variants (Coconut! Maple Bacon! Candy Bar!) and their base Brunch Junkie sets the table.

■ The Toll — Raleigh Brewing, Raleigh (12-ounce)

Probably one of the first local canned stouts, The Toll has its place in North Carolina stout lore It’s a great straight down the middle stout and the fantastic base for their Barrel Aged Toll!

■ TEN FIDY — Oskar Blues, Brevard (12-ounce)

The one that started it all ... need I say more? It’s the standard.

■ Barrow — Brewery Bhavana, Raleigh (8-ounce)

A unique 8-ounce barrel aged stout from one of the most innovative and creative brewers in North Carolina. Brewery Bhavana is known more for their IPAs and DIPAs, but this stout is worthy of your time!

■ 10W-40 — Hi-Wire Brewing, Asheville (16-ounce)

The Hi-Wire team is working on creating a brand for their 10W-40 stout over the last couple of years. The latest variants have been Salted Maple 10W-40 and German Chocolate Cupcake 10W-40 Stout. I like what Hi-Wire has going ... they have also ventured east and have opened a taproom in Durham to satisfy those thirsty eastern Hi-Wire fans!

■ Skillet Donut Stout — Burial Brewing, Asheville (16-ounce)

Another OG Stout that’s getting its due recognition beyond North Carolina! Burial has opened a small shop in Raleigh (part of the Transfer Co. Food Hall) and are hoping to create a taproom ambience and vibe similar to their Asheville home. So far so good ... they are already expanding their presence there! FYI … don’t pass on their Griddle Imperial Espresso Stout!

■ Drunken Vigils — Southern Pines Brewing, Southern Pines (16-ounce)

Another North Carolina brewer that has a stout program that deserves your attention. Drunken Vigils is their delicious BA Breakfast Stout, but they’ve been rolling out other stouts that are more than worthy. Their BA German Chocolate Cake Stout is decadent!

■ Impending Grace — Four Saints Brewing, Asheboro (16-ounce)

Four Saints is one of those local breweries that you just feel at home the second you walk in the door … believe me, I’ve done it! Their stout lineup stands up to most others and their Barrel Aged Impending Grace should be on your must try list.

We are certainly fortunate to have so many quality brewers in North Carolina that turn out quality stouts and since canning is now available to everyone, those same quality brewers are able to share their wonderful dark elixirs with more people beyond their respective taprooms.

What is your favorite North Carolina canned stout? Tell me which stouts I missed and must try! Drop me a note at rick@stoutwhisperer.com and let me know your favorites! I’d love to hear your thoughts on the wonderful world of canned stouts in North Carolina.