Oooh, that’s a good Stout
There’s something about St. Patrick’s Day that makes you want to reach for the nearest stout.
Mid-March weather is notoriously soul-crushing — both in South Jersey and in Ireland — so it makes sense to want to quaff something as dark as the sky.
That’s why we’re pleased to tap Cape May Stout this week, just in time for St. Pat to drive the snakes out of Ireland and drive the stout into your glass.
“Stouts and St. Patrick’s Day go together like movies and popcorn!” says Director of Brewing Operations Jimmy Valm.
But, he tells us, the difference between a good stout and a great stout is all in the malt.
“We worked long and hard at making sure we have a wide variety of malts that give the beer a nice, complex flavor that is more than just generic roasted flavors and burnt toast,” he says. “We really wanted to add in some chocolate notes, a little caramelized sugar, and a complex roastiness. It ain’t just another (insert name of generic Irish-based, mass-produced stout that everyone claims to love but only drinks one day a year).”
We’ve been brewing Cape May Stout for about as long as we’ve been open, though it hasn’t always hit the taps as Cape May Stout. It’s the base beer for Fresh Brewed Coffee Stout and last year — like this year — served as the base for all of our St. Patrick’s Day one-offs, but last year, we kept a few unadulterated kegs.
“It was a great reminder of how great the base beer was,” says Head Brewer Brian Hink, “and so this year when it came time to brew a stout for March we decided to go old school and leave it as good ole Cape May Stout!”
Not to mention the fact that our salesmen were getting a little jealous.
“They wanted to get in on the fun for St. Patrick’s Day as well and have our stout out and about in more of our accounts, allowing more of our fans to get in on it, even if they can’t make it down to the Tasting Room for our own celebrations,” Jimmy says.
Cape May Stout has informed a number of our other stouts.
“Believe it or not we haven’t changed the recipe for Cape May Stout in over 4 years,” Brian tells us, “which was right before our first ever Russian Imperial Stout, Paul’s Bare-Knuckle, came out, and a lot of the changes we made back then influenced that beer pretty heavily.”
Paul’s Bare-Knuckle was the inspiration for Concrete Ship — a beer that had remained relatively unchanged until our most recent attempt. We brewed up a bit of the Ship for “a special project we have in the works to be released later” (according to Jimmy). We made a few changes to that recipe that we thought were “just fantastic,” and transferred what we learned to Cape May Stout.
“So all of our stouts have been tied together in one way or another: grain bill complexity, mash temps, bittering rates, etc,” Brian says, and the changes we’ll make to one stout could effect a change we’ll make on a future stout.”
Nonetheless, as we write this, there is some white substance falling from the sky, snow mixed with rain and wet and sleet and slush and sweet-Jesus-I’m-gonna-strangle-that-friggin-groundhog, creating a messy pile of white coldness on the ground, essentially asking us to curl on the couch for the rest of the day and dream of sun-kissed beaches and blinding glares off the ocean.
Stouts are perfect for days like this.
“When the wind is howling and the novelty of snow has worn off and you just want the world to warm back up again,” Jimmy says, “a nice, dark, roasty stout to warm yer chilly bones is the perfect beer for your glass.”
Yet, like spring itself, Cape May Stout is light enough to be a welcome respite from the heavy beers of winter.
“March is kind of that last hurrah before spring hits and all the summer seasonals start coming out,” Brian says, “so it’s a nice farewell to the heavy winter beers.”
But its complexity is what will keep you coming back.
“There’s a lot going on in there that makes one think more about what they’re drinking than one usually gets with most stouts,” Jimmy says.
“At first sip it’s just a simple full-bodied stout,” he says, “but as it warms, the complexity of the malt really comes through and you have this great, interesting, complex beer in at only 5%, so you can enjoy a couple and watch it progress throughout the pints of it.”
Cape May Stout is on tap now in the Tasting Room, and we’ll be infusing eight different varieties for St. Patrick’s Day. Don’t miss out!