This St. Patrick’s Day, enjoy the world-class, Iowa-brewed cream stout that has brought two straight gold medals home to West Okoboji: CocO Stout, brewed by West O Beer.
According to the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) style description, a sweet/cream stout should be dark, sweet and full-bodied; its flavor should be dominated by chocolate and caramel, but also have a perceptive roast. CocO Stout fits that description to a T, which is probably why it won the gold medal in GABF’s Sweet Stout or Cream Stout category in both 2014 and 2015.
Pour CocO Stout into a favorite pint glass. The color is non-opaque black, and nearly half a finger-width of tan head will leave spotted skim and a ring around the edge. Since it is a cream stout, the aroma is not intensely coffee-like or chocolaty. But it is dark and enticing with light scents of dark chocolate and a tame coffee roast. Caramel malt is also noticeable, as well as the bourbon vanilla beans used in the brewing process.
The mouth feel, of course, is creamy and the flavor sweet. Instead of being intense, the flavor is a pleasing balance of roasted malt and chocolate, though chocolate has a slight edge. In fact, the flavor may be more toasted than roasted. Much like in the aroma, hints of caramel and vanilla are also noticeable.
Alcohol content: 6 percent ABV.
Food pairings: West O Beer owner Matt Matthiesen recommends barbecued pork, corn-fed beef steak, spicy Mexican dishes, mild cheese and almost any dessert.
Where to buy: Look for six-packs of CocO Stout at most major beer retailers. It is on tap at 30hop, FilmScene, Mellow Mushroom, Mosley’s, Need Pizza, Parlor City Pub and Eatery, Reds Alehouse, Shorts, Twelve01, White Star Ale House and the Yacht Club.
Price: $10 per six-pack.
This article was originally published in Little Village issue 194.