The first stout I ever loved -- maybe the first beer I ever loved -- was Sam Smith's Oatmeal Stout, responsibly passed down from my father to me at a bar & grill in Dallas, TX during the summer of 1994 while on vacation during the USA-hosted World Cup tournament. Later that weekend, we watched perhaps one of the most epic games in international footy history before dropping me off in Austin to spend the rest of my sophomore summer meddling around Austin, attending Dallas Cowboys training camp, lying to doormen on 6th Street about my age (before it was Dirty 6th and a fake ID was when you erroneously thought a random guy sitting at the bar with a 90s mullet was your buddy sitting at the bar with a 90s mullet), and other general malaise. It was one of the best summers that could ever align into the life-trajectory of a 15-year old -- and it all started with that Sam Smith.
Eighteen years, and four World Cup cycles later, I still have to say that my favorite beer-style falls in the stouts category, and even more specifically in the subgenre of oatmeal stouts. And because of the American craft movement, we as a populace no longer have to look across the pond for a proper rendition. In fact, two of my personal favorite oatmeal stouts are brewed right in the craw of what my household considers our homefields: Austin Beerworks' Sputnik and New Holland's (MI) The Poet.
I'll say this about Michigan -- it is gorgeous in two ways: The Beer and The Landscape.
Sure, the government might be a little demented, and well, the people are just a bit isolated, is all -- but overall, its really a great place that has most of its shit together -- and after all, look at our dipshit of a Governor and, sure, we have aggies too. And, anyway, did you read that Detroit may be the next Austin?
But, before I digress into a completely different blog, I'll say again that it's the beer and the landscape that sets Michigan apart from the rest of the flyovers -- Ohio, Indiana, and the insufferably Longcat-of-a-state, Illinois. It's a huge pain in the arse to float through these middling states like a plastic bag in a pool just to transport all the good shit from Michigan to Texas.
But it must not be undervalued, the worth of this excursion. Holland is one of the most beautiful parts of Lake Michigan -- at least I'm guessing it is, since I haven't seen more than 2% of it. I am, however, willing to bet that it doesn't get much nicer than the gorgeous Americana-style setting that Western Michigan provides.
And within this burg reside some of my crafty heroes: New Holland Brewing. I've talked before about one of the staples of my winter diet being New Holland's Dragon's Milk, and The Poet is my off-peak, summer stout when Melissa and I make headways to Northern Michigan.
And remember the landscape I was referring to?
|Traverse City, like The D, but less stabby.|
The Poet is a spectacular blend of cereals, coffees, and chocolates -- a true breakfast stout in the same vein as their buddies and follow brew geniuses down at Founder's in Grand Rapids. I think though, that I favor The Poet just a bit more due to its medium body and smoother, but not-oily, overall composition. Its a sweet and creamy treat that goes charmingly with a coastline and 76° weather that is prevalent in June.
Stouts are like the beautiful game -- invoking a tribal allegiance to a slow, but progressively developing, and ultimately, very rewarding climax. If the goal is an unexpected greatness in marvel and skill, then The Poet stands as this styles Romario.
Acquired: Jack's Market