3.9AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 16/20
The oatmeal stout is an under-appreciated style and one not often tried by most breweries. This is a shame because oatmeal stouts tend to be very tasty but very palatable. To take the style and make an imperial version would seem to defeat the purpose, right? Southern Tier is one of those breweries that can pull off such a feat and their "Oat" is proof positive.
APPEARANCE AND AROMA
I split a 22oz bomber with a friend and poured my half into an Irish stout glass. The beer has the appearance of a stout with a pitch black body with some ruby red color around the edges, and a frothy, brown head. The head does leave some lacing, but does completely dissipate.
The aroma definitely fits the bill of an imperial stout with strong notes of roasted malt, black licorice and an alcoholic presence of rum. The nose is a good indication of the intensity of the palate.
Oatmeal stout drinkers tend to be divided into camps of those that enjoy them for their roasty flavor and those that enjoy their sweet, dairy-like taste. Southern Tier Oat manages to deliver both components almost simultaneously. Up front it’s a robust palate of roasted malt and gourmet coffee. The middle and finish are a sweet-and-sour combination of black licorice and red grape. I’m used to finding some of these flavors in a Russian Imperial Stout, so their presence here initially caught me off guard.
As the beer warms, the palate becomes more intense in the finish and aftertaste with a prominent flavor of bittersweet dark chocolate. This flavor lingers on the tongue for quite a while, and is a little dry, but pleasurable. Unlike most of Southern Tier’s imperial brews, the alcohol here is prominent. It’s very rum-like, which gives the palate a rich, almost vanilla or butterscotch sweetness, as well as creating for a dry finish and aftertaste.
Sometimes drinkability is in the eye of the beholder. If drank cold, Oat is quite smooth, soft, thick, and coats the mouth but doesn’t leave much of an aftertaste. If drank cool or warm, Oat is more intense, more bitter, but has noticeable flavor of dark chocolate and coffee. The alcohol seems to pair well with either scenario: giving the beer a sweet, but slightly dry flavor while cold; and a rich, warm, sticky, and vanilla taste when cool.
At 10% ABV, this is not meant to be a session beer, rather, an after-dinner dessert or a nightcap.
Southern Tier Oat is something of an anomaly since it’s very different from most oatmeal stouts, but it’s definitely not your typical imperial stout. There’s a lot going on here and drinkers of different preferences will find different things to enjoy about it.