Winter is coming, and with it comes a variety of rich, complex beers to try. From pitch black and highly alcoholic stouts to spiced winter warmers, winter beer is full of creativity and bold flavors. Join us as we trek through a variety of offerings this season!
Mean Old Tom – Maine Beer Company – Portland, ME – 6.5% ABV
Seeing as last week we reviewed a porter beer, a stout was the next logical step. Mean Old Tom, a vanilla stout from the Maine Beer Company, is a neat example of a flavored stout from a local brewery.
So what exactly is a stout? Like porter, stout is a dark beer that gets its flavors from deeply roasted barley, bringing chocolate, coffee, charcoal and toasted flavors into play. Stout has a number of sub-styles, including the sweet and savory "milk stout," the smooth and velvety "oatmeal stout," and the big, bold "Russian imperial stout." But other than sub-styles, there's not really much of a difference between porter and stout, beyond what the brewer decides to name it.
Back to the pint on hand; Mean Old Tom's label is simple and modern. In the glass, the beer is jet black with plenty of lofty, tan foam. Fresh vanilla bean, nutty aromas and sweetened coffee scents greet the nose.
In terms of flavor, Mean Old Tom isn't very mean at all. Sweet muted vanilla flavors and a hint of cocoa are balanced by a faint sourness and mild astringency from the roasted barley. Finally, a surprisingly light mouthfeel combined with smoothness from flaked oats makes this brew an easy drinker.
Mean Old Tom is a great stout to start the season with. Conservative yet flavorful, it manages to showcase it's vanilla flavoring without overpowering it's stout base.
Score: 4/5 pints.
As always, Gavel Media reminds its readers to drink legally and responsibly.