Thursday, February 01, 2018

Welcome to Stout Month

Back in 1994, when American breweries numbered only in the low hundreds, Paul Nashak had an idea that he thought might bring a few more people into his then-five-month-old Mountain Sun Pub during a slow time. He would load up his taps with stouts in February, call it Stout Month and maybe give folks a little extra reason to stop by.

Stout Month is no longer an idea. It's a full-blown movement that extends beyond the walls of Nashak's current five pubs and into breweries across Colorado that are setting aside more space in February for dark beers of their own creation. Many of those breweries are sending beers to be put on at Mountain Sun pubs. A few are even making beers that will be available only at Mountain Sun's locations this month.

Nashak, managing partner of the brewery, now gives talks on Stout Month. He lines up a wider variety of beers than he once imagined possible. He goes into the pub some days with a certain beer on tap and leaves only when that tap is on its third different creation of the day.

And he loves that everyone wants a piece of that one-time weird idea.

"I think when people started coming into Mountain Sun in the darkest, coldest, slowest month of the year and seeing that we had lines at 2:30 p.m., they realized we'd tapped into something," he said.

The list of Mountain Sun stouts that will be on tap at its properties from Boulder to Denver this month is 31 recipes long. Thirty-six beers from other breweries - including out-of-state craft brewers like Modern Times Brewing that are being added to the list of Colorado offerings for the first time in about eight years - will supplement that haul.

Mountain Sun has standard stouts and dry Irish stouts and cream stouts. But it's also concocted a Girl Scout cookie stout, a Norwegian wheat stout and a brand new cherry chile stout. There are five imperial stouts and three barrel-aged stouts waiting too, including the bourbon-barrel-aged Chocolate Thunder Imperial Milk Stout that was one of the standouts of the Great American Beer Festival.

Nearly as exciting, though, is the list of guest stouts that will be on tap.There are multiple s'mores stouts, a maple donut Russian imperial stout and a Turkish coffee stout. TRVE has three stouts that will be pouring at Mountain Sun.

Chris Bell, co-owner of Call to Arms Brewing, admitted that he rarely makes stouts. But, wanting to be a part of Stout Month madness, the Denver brewery this year created Body By Beer Milk Stout, Buzzy Body Coffee Milk Stout (which is a phenomenal blend of sweet smoothness with a kick of highly flavored roast) and Dust in the Wind Dry Irish Stout. The latter will be on at Mountain Sun.

Even though Mountain Sun will host the largest Stout Month celebration, other breweries will host their own celebrations of the style too. Resolute Brewing in Centennial, for example, will roll out six beers across the course of the month, including a chocolate orange stout and a rum raisin imperial stout. Black Sky Brewery will have a few of its own, including a blackberry stout and a chocolate mint pistachio stout.

The point is this: Stout Month began almost as a lark. And now it's an obsession. And we are the ones who get to benefit from Paul Nashak's rather brilliant idea.

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