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Hiding in the Middle: The Tradition of Foreign Export Stout

Whether African, Caribbean, or Belgian, foreign export stouts occupy the oft-overlooked middle ground between the smooth lows of dry Irish stout and the highs of alcoholic exuberance.

Drew Beechum Jan 19, 2020 - 12 min read

Hiding in the Middle: The Tradition of Foreign Export Stout Primary Image

These days, it seems we are not much for subtlety. Whether it’s politics, religion, beer, haze, or clarity, we are deeply, deeply divided into our various tribes. The more extreme we can make it, the more attention it grabs. The middle is never a very hyped position. Lots of beers in the middle fail to garner meme-level attention. This time out, let’s look at a style range that catches a lot of attention—stout—and let’s look at what’s hidden in its wake.

A Little History

Among the older cohorts of beer fanatics, quite a few credit the stout with grabbing their senses and shoving them into a pint of something different. Not that long ago, you’d hear reverent tales of visiting St. James’s Gate for a hallowed proper pint of Guinness. But these days, there’s a difficulty in talking about stout. As with IPA, the stout is wrapped in a beery haze of history filled with tall tales, marketing, and urban legend.

The basic shape of the “true” history falls within these general margins. British brewers created a style of dark beer that became insanely popular—porter. Stout arose as a term to describe a strong porter—how strong depended upon the time and brewer. Over time, the porter got dropped, the term stout stayed, and—like the modern proliferation of soda flavors—stout sub-styles exploded and morphed over time.

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