The beer category that’s booming this winter

Stout is having a re-birth in Australia and is now one of the fastest growing beer sub-categories.

Stout is a dark beer that includes roasted malt or roasted barley, hops, water and yeast. The word “stout” was traditionally the generic term for the strongest porters produced by a brewery, which were typically 7% or 8% alcohol by volume (ABV).

Australia’s oldest stout comes from Coopers Brewery and has been in constant production since 1879. Sales hit their peak in the 1950s when the brewer was selling more than four million litres annually, however the dark brew fell out of favour in the decades that followed.

Last winter Coopers reported sales volumes for its stout were again 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.

“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,” said Coopers Managing Director Dr Tim Cooper.

Endeavour Group data shows stout is growing at a rate of over 8% year-on-year in sales. Leading the pack at Dan Murphy’s and BWS is Zytho Stout, which is growing at an annual rate of more than 50%.

Endeavour has re-introduced its limited edition Zytho White Stout into Dan Murphy’s and BWS owing to popular demand.

“We asked our customers what flavours they wanted to see in the next Zytho Beer release and more than 54% asked if we could bring back Zytho White Stout – so we did!” said Billy Ryan, category manager, Craft Beer, Dan Murphy’s and BWS.

“While stout is predominantly drunk by Boomers and Gen X, Gen Z’s are switching onto stout too – at a growth rate of almost 10% – it’s definitely no longer ‘the drink your nana drinks’, as is often perceived!” 

According to Richard Kelsey, Director of Beer Cartel, there has been a dramatic uptick in sales of stouts and imperial stouts each winter in recent years, 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.”

Beer expert Kirrily Waldhorn – founder of Beer Diva and commonly known as ‘Australia’s First Lady of Beer’ – agrees that stout is the perfect winter drink.

“Stout has a characteristically complex flavour profile with rich chocolate, coffee and roasted nut notes, creating the perfect indulgent drink to snuggle up by the fire with on a cold winters’ night,” she said.

Interestingly, not all states love their stout equally. CGA by NielsenIQ’s latest OPUS data shows that craft beer drinkers in the on-premise have very different taste depending on their state of origin. NSW stout drinkers (20% of craft beer drinkers) are much more prevalent than their Queensland counterparts (11%).

As for Zytho White Stout, it offers a fresh take on classic dark stout. It’s light in colour but comes with all of the roasty toasty complexity that you would expect from a dark stout.  The background smokiness is interlaced with rich coffee and a hint of vanilla, with an intense rush of dark chocolate on sip, creating a delicious, easy-drinking drop. 

“The Zythophiles at Zytho Brewing have done a fantastic job with this oxymoronic, ‘It don’t matter if you’re black or white’ White Stout that will challenge any perceptions or predispositions that one may have with the traditional stout style,” she said.

“Pouring a light amber, the nose offers up a soft roast with hints of cocoa powder, which translate beautifully onto the palate, bringing into the fore, roasty characters that nicely interplay with delicate caramel notes from the lighter malt base and a touch of vanilla.” 

Zytho also produces a Velvet Luxe Stout that features aromas of coffee, cream, raisin and dark chocolate with a full and rich palate.

“For those who have a preference for the dark side, Zytho White Stout’s big sister, Velvet Luxe Stout, does exactly what it says on the can,” Waldhorn said.

“Delightfully delivering on the expectations of a stout – aromas of rich coffee and chocolate entice the nostrils. On the palate, these characters play beautifully together, bringing along for the ride, a touch of fruit and a silky creaminess.”

Zytho White Stout has an RRP of $80 x 24-case; $20 x 4-pack; $6 ea. Zytho Velvet Luxe Stout is RRP $74 x 24-case; $19 x 4-pack; $6.50 ea.

Guinness shouts free stout

To encourage drinkers into the pub to enjoy a stout at its prime, Guinness has launched a promotion called Guinness Weather, allowing punters to redeem a free pint of Guinness Draught as soon as the temperature drops to ideal consumption conditions.

Winter is the best season for enjoying a Guinness, however a lesser known fact is the optimum temperature to pour a pint of the black stuff is between 5 and 7 degrees, so when the temperature drops to 5 and 7 degrees outside, the promotion activates.

“Everyone thinks about Guinness on St Patrick’s Day but the campaign aims to remind drinkers that winter is the best time to enjoy a Guinness, and a great time to get people together enjoying a pint in their local pubs,” said Connections Director Ed Stening.

Guinness lovers can check out the website housing an official Guinness Digital Thermometer, which gauges the temperature on the border of NSW and Victoria. The promotion will run throughout July or until keg stocks last.

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