McNeill’s Oatmeal Stout ended up being one of the beers I got to try during my recent birthday bonanza weekend! ( I won’t mention what age I turned 😉 ) Oatmeal Stouts are among my favorite beer styles, but with the Sam Smith version and the wonderful Founders Breakfast Stout, this Oatmeal Stout from Brattleboro, Vermont has some big shoes to fill!
On a recent trip to Vermont, I stopped in a Brattleboro Discount Beverages (its always discount beverages somehow) to see what local beers were available. Well, there was a rather large display of various 22 0z bombers from McNeill’s Brewery for a very decent price. If memory serves me, I think each bottle was under $4. Not bad I thought, so let’s pick up a few to try!
Along with the Oatmeal Stout, I grabbed a bottle of their “Champ Ale” (West coast-style Pale Ale) , Oktoberfest, and their Imperial Stout. I’ll just note that the labels do draw your eye in their amateurish but fun way. A little homey looking, but I guess it works in a town that has a parade of cows every spring!
The beer starts off very promising. I may have been a little too aggressive in my pour (I didn’t mean to!) but this beer from Brattleboro created an enormous, chocolate-colored frothy head in my glass! Huge! In addition, it really took some time to go down, and when it did it left a nice half-inch thick foamy layer on the beer. I wish I had a picture of that – it was nice.
The beer is about as dark as it gets. Held up to light, and nothing passes through the dark beery goodness.
McNeill’s Oatmeal Stout smelled pretty good too. Nothing surprising considering the style I suppose, but I did think it was a little washed-out. Meaning, no particular aroma jumped out. I picked up on malt, molasses, vanilla, the distinctive oatmeal, and a bit of chocolate in the nose. Overall, very nice, but nothing too interesting either.
The taste was similar, with many of the ingredients from above coming through in the flavor. Again, nothing stood out as exciting, but it was a well-blended flavor that I got to enjoy more and more particularly as the beer warmed. It had a nice roasted bitterness to it that reminded me a little of over-brewed coffee, and that seemed to balance the sweetness of the molasses, and vanilla flavors.
So far, not bad! I think the killer for this particular beer was the mouthfeel. Oatmeal Stouts are typically full-bodied – sometimes ‘chewy’ even. McNeill’s Oatmeal Stout was much too thin for my liking – medium-bodied at best. Not a total killer, but I think it would be a much better beer otherwise.
So, what’s my take. I’d say that the McNeill’s Oatmeal Stout is a decent brew, and at a relatively low ABV of around 5%, this could make a very nice session beer. The flavors are interesting enough, but it respectively falls short of my aforementioned favorite Oatmeal Stouts. Oh well. Had the body been a little better, I think I would have awarded 4 stars. Even still, three stars is not a bad assessment.
If you’re in Vermont, give it a try. McNeill’s is widely distributed in the area, and if you’re in Brattleboro, you can even stop in the brewery which is an old Firehouse and is a favorite place to visit in town.