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Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Alexander Keith's Stout

I used to be a Keith's drinker during my late high school and college years and collected everything bearing the trademark Stag logo. I moved away to Halifax and worked for Labatt and was involved in the Keith's family of beers. I grew up quickly though and realized the positives of the Canadian craft brewing industry.

The 'real' history of Alexander Keith is fascinating, one that has really been lost in today's macro beer marketing. Lately, while scanning various beer forums and websites I noticed a thread on Beer Advocate regarding a new Keith's product called 'Keith's Stout'. It was released just in time for Keith's 213th birthday.

I imagine many readers of this blog had the same first thought that I did when hearing about this Stout: Skeptical. Which brings me to tonight.

There is a chain pub near my office and I had won a night of free appetizers for a group of co-workers. This particular pub had Keith's stout on tap and I had to try it. The sample glass arrived at my table and another co-worker asked if it was Keith's Red Amber, not knowing what I had ordered. Which tells you that the colour was not jet black, but with many shades of red, Coca-Cola like. Nor was there any of that mocha or creamy coloured white head that many stouts feature. The glass was very cold so I let it warm up a bit. It didn't really help. The aroma has faint cocoa and coffee notes but thin at best. The taste, well, it tasted like a lager with dark roasted malts, a dark larger if you will. The carbonation was high, again, giving the impression that this sample resembled that of their lager.

I had the co-worker taste it. He's a semi beer fan who boldly said, "I don't like it, tastes kinda sour and sugary." Not surprising.

I felt the same way. I didn't like it (not that I expected myself too) and pictured Alexander Keith the man drinking this stuff. I don't think he'd like it either. It's discouraging to know that the average 'Molson Canadian' drinker out there may try this and think every stout will taste like this.

Bring on the craft beer stouts, it's getting to be that time.

**Photo borrowed from


nickm said...

Thanks for that BA thread shoutout Troy! ;)

I can't say I'm too surprised with how it looks/smells/tastes.

Mark said...

Your description sounds just like the Big Rock Espresso Stout... ie; not a very good beer, and not very stout-like.

What is wrong with these brewers (Big Rock moreso than Labatt)? The Big Rocks and Sleemans of Canada should learn something from the success of Sam Adams and Sierra Nevada in the states (which is that you can be a relatively large brewer and still make excellent beer).

Troy Burtch said...

Nick - no problem, glad you brought it up.

Mark - to be honest, I've never had the Espresso Stout before. I posted that for some people in Alberta who have been e-mailing me asking for something Alberta related.


Mark said...

Trust me, the Espresso Stout is terrible, but it is in fact more stout-like than their Black Amber stout.

Big Rock refers to their Black Amber as a "sweet Alberta stout." What is really funny about the Black Amber is that the picture of it on their website isn't even black, more of an orangey copper... I guess that is what a "sweet Alberta stout" looks like.

The last time I tried the Espresso Stout, it was so terrible, that the Guinness I ordered as a follow up tasted like a frickin' Russian Imperial in comparison.

Anyways, as I was saying, Sierra Nevada makes an awesome year-round stout and porter, while Sam Adams makes a delicious Cream Stout and a variety of seasonal porters. It's all great stuff, and it sells without having to fool people with stupid cookies, chocolate covered coffee beans and free glassware.

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