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Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Stout beers offer a soft, almost chewy richness—unlike any lager.

The sharp and roasted yet creamy flavor is delicious any time of the year—but these beers are especially lovely when the temperatures start to drop. These darker beers pack a cornucopia of flavors, with plenty of alcohol by volume to keep you warm and toasty.

It’s time to celebrate these beers: The Fifth Annual International Stout Day (an event I helped create) will be celebrated around the world on Thursday, Nov. 5.

International Stout Day has become a day of delicious celebration, a time when we salute this rich and complex style—and the brewers who craft it.

On this fine, roasted-malt-infused day, I recommend checking out some of these delicious beers:

Deschutes Brewery Obsidian Stout: Sharp coffee flavors and full-bodied hop bitterness are prominent, while the beer provides the warmth that’s common among great stouts. Espresso and dark chocolate notes lead the way. Noticeable in the background are touches of molasses and sweet milk chocolate. This is an incredibly well-crafted and well-balanced beer.

Surly Brewing Darkness: The massive Russian Imperial Stout uses Belgian dark and candi sugar, and features a different artist on the label every year. This year’s artwork is a nightmare bat. The world-class 10.3 percent alcohol-by-volume stout is now aged in whiskey barrels and offers an incredibly silky mouth-feel. There’s a ton of tart cherry, brown sugar, dark chocolate, molasses and date—offering the perfect level of complexity. The beer even has a day dedicated to it, when dark-beer lovers descended upon the gates of Surly in late October.

Great Divide Yeti Imperial Stout: This beer can be enjoyed any time of the year—but it’s especially fantastic during the winter months. The 9.5 percent ABV beer has a massive caramel and burnt-coffee malt backbone, with hints of dark fruit. The flavors layer beautifully and lend to a rich and creamy mouth-feel.

Alaskan Smoked Porter: Coming in with a relatively low 6.5 percent ABV, this beer has some extra flavor thanks to special smoked malts. Known as “rauchbier” in Germany, smoke-flavored beer didn’t really exist in the United States until Alaskan Brewery developed it in 1988. This brew has a nice, earthy character. Smoked chocolate, dark fruit and molasses all come through in this classic porter. Keep a look out for limited vintages on Nov. 1.

Anderson Valley Barley Flats Oatmeal Stout: Oatmeal is added to this brew for a silky smoothness—and a touch of sweetness. It’s a sweet appetizer beer. The taste is simpler and more candid than the European stouts. Roasted barley, caramel malt and velvety-smooth coffee dominate while sweet oats linger on the aftertaste.

Brooklyn Brewery Black Chocolate Imperial Stout: No actual chocolate is used in this beer—but the use of roasted malt and the process by which the grains are roasted give it similar flavors and nuances. With this decadent beer, you’ll not only pick up notes of chocolate, but coffee, vanilla, toasted bread crust, licorice and dark cherry. The mouth-feel is lovely with this indulgent 10 percent ABV beer.

AleSmith Brewing Bourbon Barrel Aged Speedway Stout: This beer is not for the faint of heart. This 12 percent ABV barrel-aged imperial stout has massive bitter chocolate and coffee aromas, with layers of raisins, bourbon and butterscotch. Sweet caramel and toffee flavors in the beginning blend seamlessly with vanilla, coconut and oak flavors. A nearby roaster delivers an extra helping of coffee for added depth and flavor.

Firestone Walker Velvet Merkin: This 2010 and 2011 Great American Beer Festival gold-medal winner starts out as the lovely 5.5 percent ABV Velvet Merlin Oatmeal Stout. Barrel-aging raises the ABV to 8.5 percent—and turns the beer into a decadent and incredibly drinkable stout. Dark-chocolate truffle, toffee, vanilla and coffee dominate the nose. The taste is only slightly muted, with notes of raisins, spicy oak, marshmallows and bourbon. It’s a beautifully balanced beer.

Goose Island Bourbon County Stout: The brewers’ notes indicate an intense mix of charred oak, chocolate, vanilla, caramel and smoke. The appropriately named beer won a gold medal in 2006 at the World Beer Cup Awards in the Wood and Barrel Aged beer category. Bittersweet cocoa powder, molasses, fig jam, vanilla and toasted coconut flavors create a lovely beer.

Boulevard Imperial Stout: This is a special blend of barrel-aged beers coming in at 11.8 percent ABV. Grainy toastiness, oak, coffee and spicy hops balance beautifully with date, brown sugar and plum notes. The imperial stout is a blend of fresh beer and several barrel-aged beers. Spice, chocolate and hovering alcohol warmth play a big part in this balanced beer’s charm. Serve in a tulip glass, and pair with roasted meat or smoked cheeses.

Locally, Coachella Valley Brewing Co. will have its Black Widow and Whopper stouts ready for Nov 5.

Don’t forget to check in to Untappd on Nov. 5 to grab your special edition badge. Unlock it by checking into any style stout on that day.

Raise your glass to this historic and iconic beer style—and toast the craft beer revolution. Visit stoutday.com for more information.

Published in Beer