Tasting: June 22, 2013
Style: Stout (Oatmeal)
Beer #: 475
Gritty McDuff’s (a.k.a Gritty’s) is a legendary regional brew pub that was founded in Portland, Maine’s Old Port in 1988. Today, they operate three brewpubs in Portland, Freeport and Lewiston/Auburn and distribute in several northeastern states.
Gritty’s is celebrating their silver anniversary with four limited offerings in 2013. This beer – S.O.S, or Special Oatmeal Stout was the first installment released April. They followed with an ale called Big Blonde in May and according to their website, releases three and four are promised for this fall.
Oatmeal isn’t a flavor you would pick up in an oatmeal stout because a brewer’s aim is for the proteins, lipids and gum found in oats to lend a viscous, creamy texture to beer. This beer contains about 10% oat flakes. In the 17th century there were beers made with 35% oats – but it was documented that the resulting brews were bitter beyond consumption. It seems that the term oatmeal stout was popularized in the late 18th century during a time when oatmeal was popularized as a health food. I guess it’s the modern equivalent of adding “a great source for anti-oxidants” to the labels of products – no significant substance, all marketing ploy.
We see Russian imperial stouts reaching alcohol by volume (ABV) levels of 15% plus. Oatmeal stout usually falls in the 6% to 8% range and Gritty McDuff’s S.O.S slots nicely in the category at 6.9% ABV. The pour is cola brown and the khaki-colored head dissolves quickly. Roasted aroma like chicory on the nose. I get a yeasty banana flavor right up front and that hits me as odd, it is present in every sip, but does get overrun with potent bitter roasted flavor like burnt toast. The roasted flavor is pleasant at first, but wears out its welcome pretty quickly. This one finishes with an odd burnt plastic undertone. A bit too carbonated, astringent and not as lush as I would expect. I’ll move on with something else, 74 points.