The Dark Art of getting a Stout just right

There doesn’t seem to have been quite the giddy anticipation in the run up to Stout Day that #IPADay caused, but nevertheless, today is Stout Day and I want to get behind it by talking about a great Stout I drank recently from one of the UK’s most exciting new breweries.

Dark Arts, from the unstoppable Magic Rock Brewing.

I want to talk about this beer because it's a great example of one of my favourite kinds of beer, a perfectly executed Dry Stout. I did see rumblings from some bloggers (was it you
Ghosty?) saying it should be International Imperial Stout Day - an homage to the over the top beer geek favourite - but I'd have to disagree.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Imperial Stouts, but a medium strength normal stout that is big on mouthfeel, flavour, and balance is perhaps an even more difficult undertaking. Particularly from a bottle like the beer here, where the thickness of Cask serving cant hide a lack of body.

First off, Dark Arts gets the mouthfeel spot on, Medium-thick but not syrupy or overly creamy. My first thought flavourwise was genuinely “that is what a stout should taste like”. Very roasted, quite dry, almost burnt in it's smokiness and only just kept in check by some bitter, dry hops in the finish. It is very familiar tasting, in many ways - It's a proper, full on, dry stout.

Once it warms up you get a bit of tobacco smoke, burnt bitter sugar, ashy chocolate and just a tiny bit of mild liquorice. It's just a very, very well crafted beer that at 6% just about sneaks into the winter warmer bracket but doesn't enter the 'this will hurt in the morning' ABV range of impy stouts.

Genuinely loved it.


  1. I think that sometimes breweries can hide behind the relative comfortthat having a load of dark malts can bring; lack of taste, complexity and balance can all be hidden behind tonnes of darkness. Balanced, tasty and clean stouts - where each flavour sings in harmony, porters and even dark milds - are hard to find, sometimes. Particulary on bars; not sure why this is. Nothing worse than a bad dark beer.

  2. Body is key for me, completely agree. Stouts with too thin a body just don't work. To be fair though, 6% is hardly small ... you should be getting body into a beer at that ABV.