New Holland Brewing’s The Poet Oatmeal Stout
By: Benjamin Welton
Stout was not Poe’s drink of choice. Whether or not the stories about his drunkenness are exaggerated (the fact that so much of Poe’s “biography” was initially written by Rufus Wilmot Griswold, a sworn enemy, calls into question much of what is commonly accepted about Poe’s alcoholism), it’s almost certain that Poe preferred whisky and wine to mere beer. “The Cask of Amontillado,” which mocks a self-righteous and snobbish wine aficionado, highlights somewhat Poe’s interest in and knowledge of the grapevine. In other instances, friends and acquaintances wrote about Poe’s thirst for Jamaican rum and whiskey. Although it’s debatable whether or not drink killed him, Poe almost certainly drank more than was good for him on numerous occasions, and without question he preferred the hard stuff to beer.
Thankfully, history has not stopped the fine folks at Michigan’s New Holland Brewing from crafting a Poe-themed beer – The Poet Oatmeal Stout. At 5.2% ABV and 37 IBUs, this beer strikes the right balance for those who love the darker, stronger styles of beer. Similarly, this oatmeal stout lives up to its name, with a milky, muscular head and a taste that pairs well with similarly strong fare. Think steak, soft cheeses, and sausages. This beer is less the tinkling sweetness of “The Bells” and more the compact punch of “Hop-Frog.”
First Impression: The black-and-purple label is more suited for Halloween season, but since it’s a stout, the darkness of winter is its actual home territory. Of course, this being the tail-end of football season, The Poet Oatmeal Stout also brings to mind the Baltimore Ravens, a franchise located in the city of Poe’s death and an organization directly influenced by Poe’s work. Thankfully, the Ravens were eliminated from the playoffs, so those of us who cheer their failures can drink this brew and be reminded of wonderful realities.
Pour: Like most oatmeal stouts, this beer is black and tan and long on head. There’s a bit of purple light that can be discerned at the bottom, but for the most part The Poet sticks to two colors. In nasal matters, this beer is mildly pleasing, if not a little boring. Oak, dark malt and molasses are present, and if you sniff hard enough, you can almost smell the gun powder that Poe, under the alias of Edgar A. Perry, undoubtedly knew well as a Sergeant Major of Artillery.
Taste: The stout is a style for the working man, so there’s no need to wax poetical. A loaf of bread in a bottle, The Poet Oatmeal Stout is meaty and smoky in all the right ways. This beer is also pleasingly creamy, with a rich mouthfeel that doesn’t dissipate too quickly. Overall, for stout lovers, The Poet is high class and it would be unthinkable to cry out “Nevermore!” after the first glass.