2/26/20: BrewDog's Stout AF

3:54 PM

You ever want a beer but, you know, not want a beer? For instance, after a few drinks you think, "I could go for another but I don't want to feel it in the morning?" Or, are there times when you want to experience the flavors and aromas of a beer without dealing with the alcohol? Now, what if that beer was a stout?

Bonus Háma butt on the left there.
A good non-alcoholic stout is something I've been on the hunt for for quite some time. I work late on Tuesdays and I don't always want an actual beer when I get home. A can of soda's out of the question--that caffeine'll keep me up later than I'd like. Sure, I could do milk or juice or water (or a warm beverage), but, man, I'd prefer a beer! Today, I'm breaking into the first beer I've found that might just scratch that incredibly specific NA stout itch: BrewDog's Stout AF.

BrewDog is a Scotland-based craft brewery with US headquarters right here in the drab and rainy state of Ohio (Columbus, to be precise). Founded in 2007 by James Watt and Martin Dickie, the brewery has a core set of values (such as community ownership, transparency, and standing for the things in which it believes) that drives its business and beer.

Stout AF is brewed with a handful of ingredients: water, yeast, barely, hops, lactose, and coffee. There's also an addition of chocolate wheat and oats which help to give it a deep stout flavor. At just 77 calories a can, this is something that's promising to be pretty great. Hopefully BrewDog can pull it off.

A waft of the stout brings deep, dark coffee notes. There's an almost caramel quality here, too, and I don't know what's providing it. If there's chocolate, it's dark and very minimal--really, the coffee's the main thing in Stout AF's bouquet. I also get a little licorice and some slight dark fruit (which is good--this is a stout, after all). Still, that coffee is king. Purrl, who usually doesn't care for coffee-infused brews, is all about this; she gave it thirteen whiffs.

The flavor profile is really why I'm here for the beer and, considering that it's an NA brew, it doesn't disappoint. I will note immediately, however, that, without alcohol present, there is a wateriness here thinning out everything, stretching it all. But, the coffee is here and it's sharp. The roastiness of the malt is present and the lactose gives it a touch of sweetness before that dark roasty quality drags it into earthiness. It's decidedly a craft stout, it just tastes like someone watered it down a little. Which, in this beer especially, I'm okay with. The thing's damn tasty all the same.

Stout AF's mouthfeel is 1:1 a traditional stout. Big, filling, robust. Frothy, even. Expertly done.

During the fall, one of my favorite things to do is sit out on my porch on rainy Sundays and drink a stout (or porter or homebrew cider, but, for the purpose of this bit, let's focus on the stout). My porch has a metal roof, so not only do I stay dry, I get to hear the rain patter against it. Looking out at the lake across the street, I lose myself in the thousands of little ripples the rainfall leaves on its surface. I pull my coat tighter against the chill and feel the warmth of the stout's roastiness with each swig. I could easily see myself doing the same with Stout AF.

Is Stout AF a good NA stout? Well, yeah. It has all the flavors and aromas I look for in a brew of the style. When contrasted against other non-alcoholic beers, there's no contest. This is very drinkable and enjoyable. But, unfortunately, I'm reviewing it as a beer standing against other craft stout's I've had. In that light, it's okay. It's far from the worst stouts I've had, but it's not among the best. I'm giving it a 7.5/10 (but, strictly judging it as an NA beer, it's be an easy 9.5/10). This'll be a near-constant in my home from here on out.

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