Forging mighty beers one batch at a time.

Stout Tasting Session: Licorice Stout vs. First Out Stout

Stout tasting session: Licorice Stout vs. First Out Stout


Having now done two stouts, and also conveniently having both on hand simultaneously, I thought it would be fun to taste them side-by-side for the first writeup on the newer Licorice Stout. If you’ve been following along on Alewright, you’ll know that these two stouts represent my first foray into designing original beer recipes for me. Although these recipes are experimental for me, I think that they are two good data points for me to work from in tweaking a unique stout.

These two stouts represent opposite ends of the flavor spectrum. The First Out is a lower alcohol, lower gravity beer, but has quite a bite. The Licorice stout is heavier, sweeter, and features a much higher alcohol content. the First Out is pure grain brewing while the Licorice relies on adjuncts for a good part of its character.

I started with the First Out Stout, pouring it from the clear plastic bottle into a small tasting glass. The beer poured with almost no head, but exhibited some lingering carbonation on top. I suspect that this bottle might not have been sealed tightly enough, or somehow didn’t get primed with enough sugar during bottling. Fortunately there was enough carbonation left for the taste to be relatively unaffected I think. The aroma was one of coffee and toasted oats. The black roasted barley comes out in the nose. The mouthfeel is a bit thin in contrast to its appearance in the glass. The taste is a bit acrid and biting, but is offset slightly by a surprising lactose sweetness. Finish is crisp and does not linger long on the palette, which is good because the bite up front is rather overwhelming.

I then moved on to the Licorice Stout, pouring a small amount into another identical tasting glass. Carbonation was more pronounced than that of the First Out, unsurprisingly. The beer started with a 1cm head which quickly settled to a small ring of bubbles around the edge of the glass. The aroma was one of anise and sweet heavy cream. The mouthfeel was much thicker, owing its much higher gravity and alcohol content. I detected hints of bread and molasses in the taste. There isn’t much bite to this one, as the black roasted barley was tempered by an additional two pounds of base malt and the addition of 60L kilned caramel malt.

I learned a lot from these two beers, so hopefully I can move the ball forward with my next stout recipe. Neither of these were bad beers by any stretch, but I think that there is still a lot of room for improvement.