A QUINTESSENTIAL ENGLISH oatmeal stout and probably the best. The fond epithet “liquid bread” finds its avatar in Samuel Smith’s hearty lineup and perhaps in no beer so manifestly as the Oatmeal Stout. Its thick pour is a deep pumpernickel color with a toasty pale head nearly matching the cream color of the label. The impression is of a fresh loaf of bread with a blooming crust, sliced thickly and wedged into the mug. Beyond the starch and faint nuttiness of the oatmeal and malts, there’s a strong fragrance of molasses and some earthy sweetness–a bit of wood and a little cocoa, though not too much. Of course, its texture is utterly smooth, but there’s enough character left to make this more than boring porridge. After a very round and mild first impression, the mouthfeel evolves to be bready–never burnt, despite its dark hue–and with a full-bodied zip kicking in around midpalate to carry it through towards the semi-dry finish. Alcohol of 5% is virtually indistinguishable from its naturally effervescent clarity and the hardness of the well water used lends a hint of flint to the foundation. Hop presence is minimal, but enough to give this more than just an adult root beer edge. Altogether an easily enjoyable classic. But between the oatmeal and the added cane sugar it’s almost too smooth–at least for those who prefer a dose of apple cider vinegar in their morning meal.
Served: 500 ml bottled SA11L1 – January 11, 2012)