We’ve come a long way from the pint of plain

Milkshake stout anyone? – Irish craft breweries have plenty of interesting takes on the black stuff

Pastry stouts are the latest twist on the national drink, joining a long list of variations on the style, from milkshake stouts and oatmeal ones, to rich barrel-aged or imperial ones and big hoppy stouts. Made with some sort of sweet element – such as vanilla, maple syrup or fruit – the pastry stout is all about experimenting and is still evolving as a style, you could say.

Though stouts are part of many microbreweries core range of beers, they come down the list of top picks for many craft beer fans – unless, of course, they’re big and complex and barrel-aged.

Having said that, there are some top-notch traditional stouts made by independent Irish breweries. If you're looking for a straight up, dry and drinkable stout, check out offerings from Dungarvan, O'Haras or the Porterhouse's Plain. Kinnegar's Yannaroddy porter is also worth a try.

A little stronger is West Kerry Brewery’s Carraig Dubh which has a lovely dark chocolate character, a touch of liquorice but is quite light-bodied for its 6 per cent. At similar strength is O’Haras very fine Leann Folláin, an Extra Irish stout.


Rascals Bourbon Milkshake Stout 6 per cent is a new release and has a good foamy head with a subtle aroma of coconut, vanilla, and a touch of bourbon sweetness. It’s got the creamy mouthfeel of a milkshake but a slight tartness at the end didn’t work for me.

Trouble Brewing's Voodoo Logic Imperial Maple Syrup Stout is a big beer at 10.1 per cent and it comes in a tall can. It's got a big and dark roasty, cocoa body and finish but the maple syrup is very dominant – I think I'd have preferred it without , or better still, a pint of their Dark Arts porter instead.

@ITbeerista beerista@irishtimes.com