There are many stouts to be found around the world. Here in Norway there are not so many of the macro breweries that brews stouts, but the cult brewery Nøgne Ø has two of them in their line-up. Nøgne Ø's Havrestout is made of oats, while their Imperial Stout is a heavy hitter with 9% alcohol. Aass brewery has a gourmet line of beers, and among them are Aass' Gourmet Stout. Here these Norwegian titans clash, and I have also invited Guinness to have a reference point.
First out is the oats stout. Nøgne Ø's Havrestout pours black into the glass. At first it seems fizzy, but the carbonation stops rather quickly. It builds a medium sized tanned head, but it dissolves more or less at once. The nose has a lot of coffee, and the coffee is also there in the mouth together with some burnt notes. The beer feels watery and has a bitter ending. A nice stout, but it is not my favourite. At 4.5 % alcohol this beer is available in some Norwegian supermarkets.
Aass brewery is in English speaking countries perhaps more known for its name than its beers. Aass Gourmet Stout has very little carbonation and a tanned head. I can smell some coffee and chocolate. In the glass the chocolate is more distinct, but there are also notes of licorice. The aftertaste is bitter with more hints of chocolate together with a watery feeling. The beer has 4.7% alcohol and I prefer it to the Havrestout.
Guinness is the classic Irish stout. From cans it has the draught flow system, which gives the beer a creamy feeling. This is something that both Aass Stout and Nøgne Ø Havrestout lack. There is less kick in the nose from Guinness than from the Aass and Nøgne Ø stouts. I feel coffee and hints of burntness. In the glass the coffee has been joined by some caramel, but there is also a watery feel to it. The beer feels more filling than the other stouts, and is easily my favourite among them.
Nøgne Ø's Imperial Stout is the strongest of the four beers. At 9% alcohol it is absolutely no session beer. Instead it is a black beer with little carbonation and a large, tanned head. In the nose I feel coffee, and in the first taste the coffee is joined by some chocolate. It has a much fuller body than Nøgne Ø's Havrestout, but it does not have the creamy character found in Guinness. The aftertaste is bitter with a hoppy bite.
In all Nøgne Ø's Imperial Stout is a great offer, but it is a beer that asks you to be careful. The higher amounts of alcohol is very well integrated in the beer, and it feels weaker than it is. This is a great beer for Winter evenings, and I can see myself enjoying it in front of the fireplace when the snow is falling.
The Imperial Stout from Nøgne Ø is the best beer of these four, but in the long run I would prefer Guinness as a session stout due to the lower alcohol content. Its creamy texture is also a plus for Guinness, but in all Nøgne Ø's Imperial Stout is the better offer.
In Norway the Imperial Stout is only sold at the stately outlet, Vinmonopolet. Aass' Gourmet Stout is sold in many supermarkets, while Guinness is available more or less in every shop in Norway.
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