When in the mood for a certain style of beer, there is literally a world of brewers to choose from. One can pick anything from classic European beers to craft brewers from as far away as America, Mexico, and even Japan. Sometimes however, a person wants to enjoy a classic example of a style and needs to pick a brewery capable of filling that need. For this reviewer, Samuel Smith brewing is on a very short list of English brewers producing classic examples of great English beer.
Samuel Smith’s Brewery, now owned by Merchant du Vin, has been making great beer in Tadcaster, England since 1758. Their commitment to traditional brewing is such that they’re still using the well they started drawing water from in 1758. Also, for most of their beer, Samuel Smith’s Brewing still ferments its beer in stone Yorkshire squares and have been using the same strain of yeast sine the 1800s. The brewery also has its own cooper maintaining and repairing its oak casks for the products it ages in those barrels.
This commitment to traditional brewing methods helps the brewery make such consistently excellent products. In the opinion of many authors and critics Samuel Smith’s beers are among the best examples of any English brewing style. Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout is an almost menacingly deep ruby color, heading well into black. Pours crystal clear and supports a dense, tan colored head with good retention.
As with certain Irish stouts, this starts off with a softly minerally aroma. This is coupled with a pleasantly roasted or toasted quality. Sort of like coffee combined with cereal toasted in the oven. Roasted coffee notes lead into a well rounded center that offers a lushness that suit’s a stout of this type. Finish has an almost coffee ice cream sweetness to it. Well done Samuel Smith, curiosity piqued.
The mouthfeel has some good heft to it, this is a nicely full bodied brew. Doesn’t have the smoothness you might expect, but not in a bad way. Stout starts off with what seems like a brief whisp of chocolate that moves quickly into hints of cherries and a mild acidity. Then comes an overall caramel sort of sweetness coupled nicely with elements of roasted coffee. The coffee helps disguise the caramel so it’s not readily discernable. Sweetness moves into a short, dry finish that leaves you ready for the next mouthful.
Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout is a definite 9 out of 10 and one of the best beers this author has sampled in a long time. Flavors are complex, smooth, and so nicely balanced as to produce a delicious overall product. Put down the Guinness and try the Oatmeal Stout instead.