Rich, delicious, classic. These are just three words I associate with Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout. Ever since it was commissioned at the behest of Merchant du Vin, it’s had a serious foothold on the world of oatmeal stouts. It’s odd that we’ve not reviewed it before now on the site. It’s widely liked, and I’ve always had a special love for this beer. Better late than never, I suppose.
Oatmeal stouts have not been around for too long a period. Their introduction seems to be connected to some time in the 1890s. Of course, oats themselves have been used in brewing for multiple centuries. It used to be that oats were seen to detract from the quality, adding bitterness via tannins to a beer (especially in higher amounts). Michael Jackson mentioned an oatmeal stout that he had tried, and that was enough to peak the curiosity of many and essentially revive the style. In my mind, Samuel Smith’s is the classic example.
The Pour: As I’ve mentioned before, sometimes stouts look like porters and vice versa. I would certainly categorize the colors of this beer as being along the lines of a robust porter. It’s dark but light enough to let some nice ruby colors shine through this gem of a beer. Atop the mostly black body sat a creamy, stable, and light brown head.
The Nose: As is wonderfully typical of many British ales, Sam Smith’s Oatmeal Stout had some nice raw sugar, caramel qualities. Slight metallic tones were added by the dark grains, which also lent almost mocha latte aromas to it. Of course, a nice but not overbearing amount of oats floated through the slightly bilious body. As I drank the beer, nice lacing also clung to the sides of the pint glass.
The Taste: Here is my favorite part. Some residual sweetness and oats led the pack in terms of taste quality. As with their Taddy Porter, Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout had a nice, juicy fruit acidity to the palate. The rich smoothness balanced out the juicy qualities, while caramel and raw sugar lent to the depth. The back side of the taste added a very lovely smoke touched goodness to the whole. The overall taste that I might attribute to this product can be explained in terms of Samuel Smith’s other products: half Taddy Porter, one quarter Imperial Stout, one quarter Old Brewery Pale Ale and a nice helping of oats.
Overall, no matter how many American versions I try, many of which are very good and more robust, I’ve never found one that seriously contends with the Samuel Smith’s version. It it wonderfully balanced, juicy, and firmly rooted in traditional British brewing. Very high marks for this classic.
Among other Stouts:
Among other Ales: