When it comes to Oatmeal stouts, beer connoisseurs have their go-to brand: Michigan’s Founders Breakfast Stout. Lauded by beer critics and your local tippler, it is the standard by which oatmeal stouts are compared.
Yet up in Portland, Maine, Belfast Bay Brewery has been churning out McGovern’s Oatmeal Stout, a breakfast stout that has all the characteristics of its more famous counterpart, but luckily for locals, comes at a fraction of the price of its Michigan counterpart.
Being a stout, this is a beer that is best enjoyed in a Guinness glass, but a tulip glass is great as well for releasing the aromatic head. The first thing the drinker notices with this beer is the rich coffee aroma, slightly offset by dark chocolate notes coming from the head, which unfortunately dissipates quickly. The oatmeal part of the stout makes the beer full-bodied with a less bitter aftertaste than Founder’s or Guinness, which makes for smooth drink-ability.
Yet what really makes this a neat beer is that it smells like breakfast – and yes, that is a very good thing. The mouth feel recalls the feeling of a hearty bowl of Quaker Oats and a strong cup of coffee to start a winter’s morning, possibly sitting at the kitchen table in your long-johns staring out at a snow-blanketed landscape (and given the winter Boston just had, it shouldn't be that hard to imagine). It’s not often a beer can capture a state of being quite like this one can, which makes for a great drinking experience in the dead of winter.
Founders may get the acclaim of beer aficionados, but Belfast Bay Brewery’s offering puts up a great product that does Maine proud. If the head were a bit stronger, and the oatmeal-like mellowness a bit more pronounced, it would give Founder’s a run for its money. Even still, it’s a hearty beer at a good value, and one that can make even the coldest of days slightly warmer.