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Whatever Happened to the American Stout?

American stout’s unlikely combination of roasted malt and American hops launched a movement and converted many a drinker. So, where the heck did it go? Drew Beechum isolates its elements and makes a plea.

Drew Beechum Jan 24, 2021 - 10 min read

Whatever Happened to the American Stout? Primary Image

Photo: Matt Graves/

Looking at trends, you could get a very confused perspective on what the American drinker wants. On the one hand, IPA—whether aggressive and bitter or fruity and smooth—still rules the roost. On the other hand, aficionados wrap the blocks for the latest big, burly, rich sweet stout that tastes of bourbon, vanilla, and a Boston cream donut. So, you might think that we, as a group, would appreciate a rich, roasty pint with an aggressive slap of hops.

At one time, we did. What happened to us, and what can we do to restore the proud tradition of the American stout—while still being playful?

Early American brewing had its share of porters and stouts before lagers began to dominate the market, pushing out all but a few old stalwarts. I’m not talking about those. I’m talking about craft American stout.

The Roots

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