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Stouts with clout

Guinness isn't the only game in town. Check out our picks for top stouts

By Mark Andel

Few brews carry stout's outlandish snob appeal, but, truth is, few beers can offer the satisfaction of a great pour of stout.

While the legendary Guinness seems to have whupped every contender into submission, there still are a few stand-out stouts that can hold their own for drinkers who aren't afraid of the dark.

Young's Double Chocolate Stout,

$6, 16-ounce pour
Those who like the chocolatey, creamy goodness of stout without the fabled bitter finish will love this veritable alcoholic milkshake at Bad Dog Tavern. Bartender Nick Resanovich recommends keeping things sweet with a slice of pecan cheesecake ($7) to go with it. It beats an Irish coffee any day.

Bell's Kalamazoo Stout,
$3.50, 12-ounce bottle
The notion of a stout in a bottle is usually greeted by groans, but the folks at Mike's Ale House say those complaints are unfounded. "Not everything is a nitrogen pour," says owner Mike Hirsh in reference to the gas injected into most stouts to give them a creamy head and smooth taste. And the Bell's bottled stout is indeed big, roasty and silky with a nice body, not to mention a truly frightening label featuring a distraught man with his mouth agape. Plus, the price is right. Hirsh suggests a cheeseburger with provolone, caramelized onions and mushrooms as the ideal combo ($5.95).

Goose Island Rye Stout,
$4, 16-ounce pour
A silky, smooth dark horse brewed on the premises of Goose Island, this stout has the yeasty scent of a bakery and a somewhat piquant, sweetish finish, thanks to an abundance of chocolate malt and perfectly roasted barley. Double up on the rye flavor with a classic Stilton burger on pumpernickel with all the trimmings ($8.95).

Dogfish Head Chicory Stout,
$5, 12-ounce bottle
A multicultural stout if there ever was one. Organic Mexican coffee knocks up against French Quarter-roasted chicory and licorice root in this well-rounded brew, served at Delilah's, an impressively stocked "cavern tavern." Owner Mike Miller claims that this bottled stout "lends itself well to some cellaring time" due to its complexity. Although a hunk of stinky blue-veined cheese would partner nicely with this, why not try an old sherry-casked Glenmorangie scotch sidecar instead ($6)?

Beamish Stout,
$5, 16-ounce pour
Brewed in County Cork, Ireland, with water from Lake Gouganebarra, Beamish has a small but faithful following, some of whom will head to Jak's Tap after Saturday's downtown St. Patrick's Day Parade to tilt back one or a couple. It's a rich, mellow, dark brew with a slight ruby cast and a head as pristine white as a vicar's collar. A corned beef Reuben with fries (or "crisps") goes well with this stout ($6.95).

Mark Andel is a metromix special contributor.

Originally published March 8, 2004.