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Stout Adjuncts: Vanilla

Michael Donato, June 20, 2013 -   

Adjuncts in beer seem to be a growing trend, and some styles take to it better than others. The Stout is a style that sees it’s fair share of additions, often with impressive results. The roastier nature of the darker beer creates a great base to augment with additional ingredients. One such ingredient is vanilla.

In addition to each individual style, I’m also looking at stouts as a whole here to get an overall sense of how the added ingredients affect the style regardless of the different intricacies, and smaller samples, of the separate styles. Vanilla is most often added to the Oatmeal Stout style.

There are 256,443 rated stouts in the sample, averaging out to a 3.9151 rating. Stouts in general seem to be a highly-rated style. The chart below details the specific style breakdown, just to give us a baseline of what we’re working with.

Beer Style

Average Rating

All Stouts

3.9151

American Imperial / Double Stout

4.1143

Russian Imperial Stout

4.042

Imperial Oatmeal Stout

4.0031

Milk / Sweet Stout

3.9106

Irish Dry Stout

3.8803

Cream Stout

3.6924

Oatmeal Stout

3.6764

Stout

3.6727

American Stout

3.6711

Foreign / Export Stout

3.658

Oyster Stout

3.6325

Let’s start with vanilla. There are 2197 beers with vanilla in the name, with an average rating of 3.9854.

Beer Style

Rating

Vanilla Style

Vanilla Rating

Difference

All Stouts

3.9151

All Stouts

3.9854

0.0703

American Imperial / Double Stout

4.1143

American Imperial / Double Stout

4.3434

0.2291

Russian Imperial Stout

4.042

Russian Imperial Stout

4.3425

0.3005

Imperial Oatmeal Stout

4.0031

Imperial Oatmeal Stout

4.3636

0.3605

Milk / Sweet Stout

3.9106

Milk / Sweet Stout

3.9668

0.0562

Irish Dry Stout

3.8803

Irish Dry Stout

3.3636

-0.5167

Cream Stout

3.6924

     

Oatmeal Stout

3.6764

Oatmeal Stout

3.8874

0.211

Stout

3.6727

Stout

3.6857

0.013

American Stout

3.6711

American Stout

4.1163

0.4452

Foreign / Export Stout

3.658

Foreign / Export Stout

4.1786

0.5206

Oyster Stout

3.6325

     

The Irish Dry Stout style is the only one not improved by the addition, but we’re talking about a sample size of 11 beers, so that’s not particularly meaningful. The same for the Foreign / Export Stout style, which represents 28 check-ins of a single beer from El Segundo Brewing Company. Cream should be grouped with Milk / Sweet, but I’m surprised there are almost no vanilla cream stouts in either group. There is only one, a Chocolate Orange Vanilla Cream Stout from Right Brain Brewery, but it’s listed as an American Stout. Oatmeal Stout has a large portion of the sample here, and gets a nice bump in rating as a result. So do American Imperial and Russian Imperial, both styles that were already working with a well-crafted set of beers. Perhaps thankfully, there are no vanilla Oyster Stouts.

Overall, adding vanilla seems to have a noticeably positive effect on the quality of the beer. The top couple of beers, with at least 10 ratings, are already great beers that just have had vanilla added to them. Three Floyds Dark Lord With Vanilla Beans (2012) received 20 ratings and averaged a 4.95. This is followed by Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Vanilla Stout, Surly Brewing Company Darkness (Vanilla, Bourbon) and New England Brewing Company's Cherry Vanilla Imperial Stout Trooper. On the filp side, Crowbar Bryggeri's They Call Her Vanilla Brown only received a 3.33 rating across 36 check-ins.

Vanilla turns out to be a very worthy addition to stouts. Next up, coffee.

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