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The Weekly Beer Geek

Weekly Beer Review: The Poet Oatmeal Stout

The Poet Oatmeal Stout
New Holland Brewing Company (Michigan)
Grade: B-

Your humble Beer Geek is on hiatus and is digging deep into the archives for some reviews to give a second showing. Some beers get better with age, but does my writing? I fully admit I bought this one for the label and because I’m a lover of Halloween and Poe, but it’s a nice smooth stout that (contrary to what I say here) you do NOT need to save for winter.

Once upon a Monday gloomy, in the liquor store so roomy,
Pondering all the strange intriguing brews they had there all laid out
As I wandered, merely browsing, eager to get back to drowsing
I saw a label I found rousing, called ‘The Poet’ Oatmeal Stout.
“As good as anything,” I muttered, “This ‘The Poet’ Oatmeal Stout”
I bought it, then, and hurried out

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
`’Tis some visitor,’ I muttered, `tapping at my chamber door –
Only this, and nothing more.’

The Brewer’s Pitch:
New Holland’s website is quite lovely, but the links to beer descriptions are down. So what “they” say, in the sense I’ve been using, is *blank page*. To replace that, here are some comments from other reviewers that I used to get an idea of what to expect. They say the beer is quite dark and holds a nice head, but has an extremely mild flavor. While some found it agreeable to have stout flavors without the characteristic heavy bitterness, others said it took away the point of drinking a stout entirely. They also disagree about whether The Poet’s mouth feel and consistency is “light and drinkable” or “watered down.” No matter whether they interpret, whether it was poor or favorable, I was looking forward to a taste of that rarest of beasts: a light stout.

The Beer:
The Poet foams to a heavy head on the pour, which settles to a light layer of foam without the beer itself staying heavily carbonated. The color is a dark brown, but has reddish highlights when it’s held to the light. There is definite bitterness in the taste that is somewhat reminiscent of coffee, which I like. However, there is also a vague burnt taste, like the coffee was left on the burner too long. Although it isn’t a game-killer, it’s definitely a strike against The Poet. As for the heaviness of the beer, it is definitely thinner than other stouts (such as Guinness), but I didn’t find it watery. The Poet is smooth on the tongue and feels almost creamy. Its aftertaste is lingering but not overly strong, tasting vaguely of grain (the oatmeal, no doubt) and the faint remnants of the coffee.

The Breakdown:
Drink this beer in the winter. Although New Holland produces it year-round, I can’t really picture enjoying a stout in the summertime they’re just too full-bodied for that. If you aren’t used to stouts and heavy beers, The Poet might be a nice stepping stone into that set of flavors. Although it is full and dark, it is still mellower and simpler than some of the major heavy-hitter stouts. Stout fans can appreciate The Poet as well, a way to get the flavors they enjoy without getting full or dealing with beer so thick you practically have to chew it. What really kills this beer’s rating is the burnt undertaste it is so persistent throughout the bottle that I just couldn’t shake it, and it keeps The Poet from being a really great beer.

The Bottom Line:
Did you know that the Baltimore Ravens are named in honor of Edgar Allen Poe (who died in Baltimore)? I root for them because I like his work. That’s right, friends I’m not just a geek about beer.

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