Ahh, St. Patrick’s Day. The green beer’s flowing, those ubiquitous black cans of black beer are stacked high, and everyone’s Irish for a day.
Everyone besides Summit Brewing Company’s Head Brewer Damian McConn. He’s actually Irish every day, born and raised. And do you know what he’s drinking? Summit Oatmeal Stout — a nod to traditional British-style Stouts of yesteryear.
But Damo’s not turning his back on his homeland, nor is he discounting Ireland’s proud brewing tradition. His choice is simply about education and history.
A PINT OF HISTORY
Although many people associate black beer with Ireland, these styles actually have their roots in stouts and porters that were developed in London.
“Rather than abandoning the Irish,” he explains, “I'm going back to the roots of the style. Some of the greatest names in 18th and 19th-century Irish brewing received their training at porter and stout breweries in Britain. It wasn’t until the early 19th century,” Damo says, “that the Irish Stout sub-style started to diverge from its British parent.”
Sweeter and fuller-bodied than their Irish counterparts, British Stouts like Summit Oatmeal Stout have a lower hop rate and a smooth, silky mouthfeel. Flavors like black cherry and milk chocolate pop up here and there, too. Irish Stouts, on the other hand, are drier, less sweet, and more heavily hopped. Roasty notes and bitter chocolate flavors tend to dominate these beers.
It’s a difference you’ll no doubt want to taste for yourself, and the only way to do so is by tracking down a pint of Summit Oatmeal Stout on draught.
WHY NO CANS, BRO?
“When we developed Oatmeal Stout,” says Damo, “we wanted to provide a choice and educate customers with regard to style. Providing a draught alternative to all those pasteurized, imported Irish Stouts, and serving it via nitrogen/CO2 mixed gas taps, seemed to be the best approach.”
Summit Brewing Company’s Director of Quality Rebecca Newman agrees. “Our Oatmeal Stout is a nitro draught because we can manage that process incredibly well. Without the necessary equipment to produce nitro cans, we’re providing Oatmeal Stout the best way we can.”
Nonetheless, Summit fans continue to ask for our Oatmeal Stout in cans. And though we continue to evaluate the investment required to pull it off, Damo and his brewing team won’t do it at the expense of quality and consistency.
“It's very important to perform due diligence before embarking on a nitro-can project,” he says. What that means is that any such venture must be perfect. We wouldn’t want to give you a crappy can of beer, after all.
YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE IRISH. JUST BE THIRSTY. AND 21.
So, for now, on this St. Patrick’s Day, catch the parade through your city and stop by your local watering hole for Summit Oatmeal Stout the way it’s meant to be enjoyed — on draught. While you’re at it, forget the tired old cabbage and corned beef, too, and instead pair your traditional, British-style Stout with some barbecued ribs or a nice, crispy bratwurst.
“This is a refreshing, velvety stout,” says Newman, a master taster. “It pairs well with baked and roasted vegetables, and you’ll love it with desserts like bread pudding or mint chocolate-chip ice cream. It’s easy to say ‘one more’ to this beer. You don’t have to be afraid of the dark.”
With oats from Scotland and roasted malts and hops from England, our Oatmeal Stout has a little something for everyone — Irish or not.