Subscriber Exclusive

Pastry Stout: Drinking Liquid Nostalgia

Pastry stouts have turned into something quite specific: strong stouts mimicking flavor profiles of desserts, ranging from classic pastries to packaged sweet snacks often delivered with a heaping spoonful of irony. But there’s more to them than just that.

Randy Mosher Jul 15, 2019 - 10 min read

Pastry Stout: Drinking Liquid Nostalgia Primary Image

It could only happen on the Internet. Pastry stouts are beer memes, as valued for their concepts as for their actual taste, and the best ones do both well. But whenever we’re talking about a feeding frenzy, it’s not a bad idea to look for sharks jumping on the horizon. And yes, there are beers made from MoonPies and just about every kind of candy bar you’ve ever stuffed into your teenage mouth—fun to a point, but reflective of the inexhaustible nostalgia driving much of the marketplace today.

The old guard wrings their hands and decries the end of civilization, but I think pastry stouts are fun and can be startlingly good when they work. But as an artistic direction, they form a sort of a cul-de-sac, and it’s not clear where we’ll go from here.

The thing that’s coolest about them is how they trigger childhood memories, often quite strikingly, and the emotion those loaded memories can bring. It takes carefully layered flavors to send just the right message to trigger that memory into consciousness. To brew them well takes a thoughtful comprehensive approach to building a flavor and a deft touch on execution.

Building Flavors

Make & Drink Better Beer

Subscribe today to access all of the premium brewing content available (including this article). With thousands of reviews, our subscribers call it "the perfect beer magazine" and "worth every penny." Your subscription is protected by a 100% money back guarantee.