We can't think of any category of beer that is more closely associated with a single brand than the venerable stout. Of course, there's nothing wrong with Guinness. It's just not the only stout out there. There are stouts out now that are even "gooder," to reference an old Guinness ad campaign, and they're all made in the United States. These substyles include some of the richest and most exciting beers in the domestic craft scene. Stouts have always been famous for their dark hue and their roasty flavors and aromas, but U.S. brewers also add oatmeal, chocolate, and even oyster shells to provide that extra oomph. This St. Patrick's Day, challenge yourself to try a different kind of stout. And feel free to go ahead and order a shot of Irish whiskey with it (Jameson or Bushmills will be just fine). Some traditions still can't be topped.
Goose Island Bourbon County Stout
Each year's release of Bourbon County Stout is a bona fide event in the beer world. It disappears from shelves just months after it comes out. We tracked down a keg at Long Island's Spring Craft beer festival where half the convention center packed around their booth for a two-ounce taster. It's worth the hype. At 15 percent it's ridiculously strong, roasty beyond belief, and packed full of vanilla and bourbon notes from extended aging in bourbon barrels. If you're drinking this with a shot of whisky, skip the pound-and-chug method and alternate sips of each to best enjoy the interplay of bourbon and stout. [gooseisland.com]