Hoppy new year! Every Friday, we take a look at a beer brewed in the Sunshine State, giving analysis to the burgeoning craft beer movement of Florida.
Ah, the sweet stout. Also known as the milk or cream stout, it is one of the six subcategories of stouts recognized by the Beer Judge Certification Program, which maintains the official beer style guide.
So what gives a beer the designation of "sweet stout"? Isn't yeast supposed to ferment sugars?
According to the BJCP, "The sweetness in most Sweet Stouts comes from a lower bitterness level than dry stouts and a high percentage of unfermentable dextrins. Lactose, an unfermentable sugar, is frequently added to provide additional residual sweetness."
With 20 IBUs, or International Bittering Units, Sea Cow lies on the less-bitter end of the stout spectrum, which helps the sweeter side of the beer pull through.
This is a moderate 6 percent alcohol-by-volume stout brewed with lactose that leaves the beer with a bigger mouthfeel and residual sweetness than a traditional dry stout. The color is a dark jet brown, and it arrives with a hint of a creamy whitish-tan ring of foam. The aroma is that of Whoppers candies: milk chocolate with a bit of malted milk. The flavors of the beer begin with espresso-like coffee and finish off with dark chocolate and remind me of a box of Sno-Caps. The sweetness and bitterness all play together to counterpoint each other and give this beer a complex character.
The SaltWater Brewery opened this past week off Atlantic Avenue on the western side of Interstate 95. Sea Cow can be found there for on-premises imbibing or for take-home in 32- or 128-ounce growlers.