02 February 2009

Oatmeal Milk Stout (Limited Edition)

Rating: 8.1
Brewery: River Horse (Lambertville, NJ)
Glass: Pint
ABV: 6.7%
Seller: Blue Dog Tavern (Chalfont, PA)

When Enjoyed: 01 February 2009

Stouts, generally speaking, are a very comfortable variety of ale. It's the ale you order when you need to feel at home, when you've got an appetite for something heavy and something sweet. That said, its also a very misunderstood variety. Stout to most folks has one name, and that name is Guinness (and rightly so!), but there is a lot more to stout than the Irish classic and River Horse's current Limited Edition is just the ale to demonstrate that fact.

There are in fact, two general varieties of stout (which, in truth, are darker brothers of the Porter variety), dry and sweet. Most people know the dry variety (Guinness), but the sweet stout is loved by many for its easy appropriation of chocolate, cappuccino, cinnamon and other wintertime goodies. Knowing that, you often go into a stout with a fairly limited set of expectations; River Horse plays deftly on those expectations to deliver a perfectly comfortable ale with just enough twists and turns to warrant your appreciation.

One pictures an Oatmeal stout as a dry variety, emphasizing those malty, chewy grains and oats. To be sure, this stout delivers on the chewy front. The oatmeal smell hits you off its foamy head like a warm bowl of Quaker Oats on a January morning. From there, things get interesting, balancing out that chewy malt is a creamy pour with a consistency nearing whole milk with notes of vanilla and an almost smoky finish.

Crossbreeding beers is often a flawed venture. Part of the reason beer has distinct lines is that those lines are not meant to be crossed lightly. This ale achieves something other more experimental ales fail at; it seamlessly blends qualities that are peculiar to both varieties of style (or species of a genus, to use scientific nomenclature). It does so because its makers set modest limitations and never forgot why we all love a good stout.


  1. In good time my friend, in good time.

  2. The main issue I've had with Oatmeal Stouts is their often too dry. River Horse seems to have taken care of that problem by matching it with a milk stout so the strong taste of the Oatmeal Stout is paired with a creamy finish that works really well. It's a well done mixture of styles that seems meant to be matched.