Stout is back in a big way among Australian men and women – both as a standalone drink and popular mixer.
Coopers Brewery reports sales volumes for its Stout are now approaching the historic highs of the 1950s. The brewer sold 3.7 million litres of Stout in 2020, a rise of 10% on 2019, and despite a pandemic-led drop in keg sales.
According to Richard Kelsey, Director of Beer Cartel, there’s been an increasingly dramatic uptick in sales of stouts and imperial stouts each winter, alongside many more breweries producing them in the cooler months.
“Most people in the hotter time of the year prefer something that is more refreshing and easy drinking,” he said. “Stouts in comparison feel like winter warmers, often being more complex, feeling thicker in mouth feel and something that is perfect for sipping.”
As far as Beer Cartel’s best sellers go, it varies significantly, as most breweries create the beers as seasonal or limited releases.
“For us, people tend to buy the higher alcohol imperial stouts with a 6%+ ABV,” Kelsey said.
He believes the current stout revival is largely to do with increasing consumer knowledge.
“People know a heck of a lot more about beer than they did five years ago and are now scouting for anything new to taste,” he said. “This, alongside beer festivals such as GABS where a large number of the festival beers featured being are stouts has definitely helped to give a large number of people access to stouts, and from it they’ve discovered that they really enjoy the style.”
The thirst for new tastes has also led to much more experimentation within the stout category, including the rising popularity of “dessert beer” sales at Beer Cartel.
“It is interesting and something that is evolving with the likes of pastry stouts, which are quite sweet and use lactose in them,” Kelsey said. “In part they’re driven by the amazing photos that people take of them as well as their names such as One Drop’s Blueberry & Choc Muffin Nitro Imperial Pastry Stout.”
“These are normally one off beers so most popular is always changing. Hop Nation based down in Melbourne last year created a pastry stout series which features three beers: a peanut butter, banana and coffee pastry stouts. 4 Pines also have their collaboration beer with Ben & Jerry’s at the moment, which is proving exceptionally popular.”
Coopers cans its Stout for the first time
And as more people rekindle their love of the dark drink or discover it for the first time, Coopers Brewery has canned Coopers Best Extra Stout just ahead of the traditional winter surge.
“While our Stout has been in constant production since 1879, sales hit their peak in the 1950s when we were selling over 4 million litres annually,” Coopers Managing Director Dr Tim Cooper said.
“Demand for Stout declined after 1975, with sales dipping to below two million litres in the early 1990s. However, we’re now back in the midst of a Stout revival and the popularity of beer in cans is rising markedly.
“It’s the perfect time for an eye-catching addition to our growing can portfolio. We expect the new can will build on the resurgence of Stout and edge us even closer to 4 million litres of sales for the first time in 70 years.”
Dr Cooper said the high gravity brew with an abundance of roasted malt provides the beer with luscious fruit and chocolate flavours. This makes it a versatile and quality brew that tastes great on its own or as a mix.
Coopers Marketing & Innovation Director Cam Pearce added that more people are now enjoying the dark beer – either on its own or as a mixer with lemonade, ale, champagne, vodka, cream liqueur, rum or whiskey.
“We feel that releasing Best Extra Stout in a can format will make it even more appealing to new and seasoned lovers of this hearty brew,” Pearce said.
The 440ml matte black can format will be available in liquor outlets from June in four packs and cartons. It is still available in bottle format and on tap.