Weekend Sip: You can toast William Shakespeare’s birthday with a Bard-inspired beer

The can

Shakespeare Stout Nitro, $12.49 for a four-pack of 16-ounce cans

The back story

Happy 457th birthday, William Shakespeare!

The Bard of Avon was born that many years ago — the exact date is not known, though it is believed to be during this month. And if you’re looking to raise a glass in his honor, what better way than with a Shakespeare-themed brew and a toast of “To beer or not to beer?” (Sorry, we couldn’t resist the pun.)

Oregon-based Rogue Ales, now one of the country’s leading craft brewers, has been making its Shakespeare Stout for more than 30 years. In fact, the beer goes back to the company’s origins, when it opened a pub in Ashland, Ore., in 1988. The thought was to create a brew inspired by the idea that the town is also home to the famed Oregon Shakespeare Festival. So, the Rogue team came up with an English-style oatmeal stout.

The Shakespeare Stout has endured ever since, winning awards at brewing events. Granted, it’s not Rogue’s best-selling offering — that honor goes to its Dead Guy Ale. The independently owned brewery has also expanded its range of late. It introduced a line of sparkling craft cocktails a little more than a year ago and recently released its Colossal Claude Imperial IPA. The company says its sales increased by 10% in 2020.

What we think about it

Stouts can be rich and heavy beers, but inviting at the same time because of a certain malty sweetness. This oatmeal stout (yes, your breakfast cereal goes into the brewing process) has all that in its favor — the company says you should also pick up “earthy flavors of dark roasted malts” and that the addition of nitro in the carbonation process “provides a smooth and creamy mouth-feel.”

We might note that if you’re a fan of Guinness
the ever-popular stout, this brew could feel a tad thin by comparison, but it’s still a satisfying sip.

How to enjoy it

This is a fine beer on its own — almost a dessert by itself. But the Rogue team suggests pairings both savory (shepherd’s pie) and sweet (s’mores).

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