Take a dive into the dark stuff. Sure, stout beer looks like a glass full of ink, but don't let that sway you. The black, opaque appearance might be intimidating, but stouts are actually smooth and — surprise! — not very strong. In fact, they're often lower in alcohol than typical American lagers. Because stouts have less carbon dioxide than other beers, they're less carbonated and have a creamy texture that makes them highly drinkable.
If you're looking for stronger, more robust flavors, try an imperial stout. These stouts often hail from Russia, where alcoholic drinks are revered. When you taste imperial stout, you often get at least a hint of alcohol. Several flavors might come through strongly, from chocolate to hazelnut, and you might get a few notes of coffee and burned grain. Since they have more alcohol by volume than other stouts, they're also the most intoxicating.
Think of oatmeal stout as the middle-of-the-road variety. It's sweeter than a Russian imperial stout, but won't satisfy a sweet tooth as effectively as milk stout. Expect a foamy head with surprising staying power as well as a silkiness that makes it highly drinkable. Since stout can take new drinkers by surprise, oatmeal stout is perfect for first-timers because it disguises some of the stronger flavors.
Also called sweet stout or oyster stout, milk stout is a sweet, delicious concoction made from lactose, which the yeast in the beer can't completely process. The hoppy varieties would taste a little too bitter without the sugary addition, so this stout tastes well-balanced and satisfying. You might also taste barley, cream and even notes of chocolate.
Hailing from Ireland, dry stouts are the purest of the bunch, with lots of bitterness and perhaps the darkest coloring. Although dry stout isn't as strong as imperial stout, it often tastes fuller and richer. The head stays nice and firm and you'll appreciate the subtle notes of chocolate and coffee. In fact, some people mix it with a little espresso or dark coffee to bump up the flavor — and to keep themselves bumping all night long.
How to Serve It:
You can drink stout straight from the bottle or can, but where's the fun in that? Serve it slightly warm in a pilsner glass or snifter, depending on your preference.