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It’s been a cold, snowy February, but that’s just fine with us. Why? Because February is Mountain Sun Pubs and Breweries‘ annual stout month, of course.
With more than 75 options on tap throughout February, this year’s celebration of dark, malty beer will please the traditionalist, the adventurer, and the novice. Tried-and-true in-house favorites as well as offbeat guest stouts (think beers with flavor profiles of tobacco or cranberry) will be on offer. While the stout month tradition is 22 years old, 2016 marks the fourth year that Mountain Sun director of beer operations John Fiorilli has sourced guest stouts exclusively from Colorado breweries.
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With so many options and taps rotating daily, choosing a stout to quaff can be a bit of a challenge. To get you started, here are a few of our favorites, all brewed by the Mountain Sun team. And don’t forget to check off all of the stouts you sample and rate them on the fan-created website ilovestoutmonth.com.
So far, Dropkick has been my favorite stout month beer. This well balanced brew isn’t too sweet, bitter, or thick, and offers notes of roasted barely and hops. Find me someone who doesn’t like it, I dare you.
Fun Fact: Dropkick is an American-style stout, the likes of which typically don’t boast ABVs of above 7 percent. True to form, this brew clocks in at an easy-drinking 6.5 percent.
Mountain Sun general manager Alex Schafer is vocal about his love for this house-brewed Imperial. Megatron is a stout month mainstay, and the recipe is lovingly refined each year. The brew is rich and medium-bodied with a smooth taste of dark fruit and chocolate.
Fun Fact: Want to sound like an aficionado? Take Schafer’s advice and don’t worry too much about appreciating the notes of hickory and apricot jam your snooty friend is going on about. “Everybody’s taste buds are a little different,” says Schafer. “That’s what’s so cool about beer. If you taste it, that’s what you taste.”
Don’t fear the name—there are no subtle hints of seawater or iron in this beer, but there are plenty of roasty malts and hops. Not unlike the Dropkick, the Sharkbite takes a middle path: It’s a light-bodied stout that is slightly sweet up front and bitter as it goes down. It has five varieties of malt (low compared to the rest of this year’s stout lineup), and that’s alright. Sometimes you need a stout that doesn’t ask too much of your palate. Commit to a pint without reservation.
Fun Fact: This foreign or export-style stout is a Mountain Sun home-brew competition winner and takes its name from the days when the only way to get across the pond was via ship. This style was brewed with extra malt (for higher alcohol content) and plenty of hops (a natural antimicrobial) so that the beer would travel better on long journeys.
Dark Harvest Pumpkin Stout
Although this mellow brew may smell like Starbucks in October, (thankfully) it doesn’t taste like it. This medium-bodied stout was brewed with seven kinds of malt, 150 pounds of pumpkins, and cinnamon, nutmeg, blade mace, allspice, ginger, and cloves. I’m happy to report that it’s neither syrupy nor boozy. Put Avery’s Rumpkin out of your mind and give this subtle nitro stout a try—it’s a crowd pleaser.
Fun Fact: This popular pumpkin stout is brewed twice a year, so you’ll also be able to find it come fall (and it’s a great alternative to all those pumpkin ales).
Bonus: Three Brews to Look Forward to
Girl Scout Stout
This stout really does taste like a thin mint cookie—and it’s a perennial favorite. Fiorilli said that it should be back on tap at each of the Mountain Sun’s five locations by the end of the week.
Planet Lovetron and Cherry-Vanilla Stout
These sweet brews are special Valentine’s Day releases. The Planet Lovetron is a dessert lover’s dream, with a heavy dose of coconut, raspberry, and chocolate. The Cherry-Vanilla is a foreign or export-style stout brewed with one and half pounds of sweet dark cherries per gallon of beer.
Visit any one of the five Mountain Sun locations in Boulder, Longmont, and Denver to experience the stout month fun for yourself.