Friday is International Stout Day, when beer fans can raise a glass to toast the dark, roasty brews of the stout family, and it's a family with many branches and offshoots to explore.
"Taking place in homes, pubs, breweries and restaurants," say the organizers, Stout Day is "all about celebrating the craft beer revolution, relishing in this beloved beer style, sharing your photos, tasting notes and events with the world."
The event also hopes to increase awareness of the variety of available variations of the style; stouts range from the Irish dry stout (Guinness) that's commonly known, to the Russian imperial stouts popular with so many craft breweries.
Here are some of the stout styles to seek out:
Irish dry stout — What many people think of when they hear "stout", these light-bodied brews have a roasty, bitter finish and are often served nitrogenated for a creamy head and smooth mouth feel. Try North Coast's Old No. 38 for a craft example.
Sweet/milk/cream stout — Brewer's yeast won't eat lactose -- the sugar found in milk -- and it is used in stouts to provide sweetness and a richer mouth feel. These sweet stouts can be a good way to develop a taste for the roasted and bitter flavors common in the stout family. Beachwood Brewing's Udder Love is a phenomenal example of the style.
Foreign extra stout — Originally brewed to a higher strength and with more hops for the export market, there are not many examples of this style around. The Guinness Extra Stout is the most commonly found example.
American stout — A broad category, American stouts can range in alcohol content and hop profile, and they often include additional ingredients, with coffee being the most popular. Deschutes' Obsidian Stout is a classic example of the American stout style.
Oatmeal stout — Another stout variant defined by additional ingredients, the oatmeal stout uses the eponymous grain to impart a silky texture and creamy head without the sweetness that lactose adds. Ninkasi's Oatis (and Vanilla Oatis) are slightly boozy, but delicious examples.
Oyster stout — Originally a working man's brew, stouts have long been paired with oysters at mealtime, and some brewers took to tossing the mollusks into the brew kettle for a stunt-beer that has made a lot of fans. They're tough to find in Southern California, but keep your eyes out for Escape From Hog Island by 21st Amendment Brewery.
Imperial stout — Legend goes that 18th century British brewers developed these potent, bitter brews to meet the thirsty demands of Catherine the Great and her equally thirsty Russian Imperial court. Imperial stouts can push well past 10% alcohol, and they are a favorite style of American craft brewers and drinkers. They are big, bold and bitter and demand attention; try Sierra Nevada's new Narwhal Stout to see what the fuss is about.