Ahhh stout... it's probably my best friend, when all else fails a good stout works all year round. The optional additions to stout also rarely fail;
damson, oyster, port,
oats, lactose, coffee.
Yes... Full stop. As far as I'm concerned (at this very moment... unless proven otherwise) there is nothing else you worth adding to stout. Chocolate is the obvious one I suppose, but really, those utterly wonderful chocolate flavours in most cases are best obtained from the malt.
Every stout I've had with melty brown stuff added has been... Well... "shit". That's one of the things about beer, you can do a hell of a lot with the basic ingredients. Think about it for a minute, wine is made from grape juice, flavours may be added via barreling and blending different types of grape juice. The complexity and prestige of wine is well documented. Now look at beer you've usually got grain, water, yeast and hops... I'd say grain and hops in all their incarnations each have just as much complexity as grape juice... SO YOU"VE ALREADY GOT TWICE THE BLEEDING COMPLEXITY... There's no need to start filling it with fucking dairy milk...
Anyhow... Some additions work, not many but some, I've had some wonderful examples recently, Crown's collaboration with Zak Avery was one of the highlights of last year. A 'Double Damson' beer, the wonderfully named Django Reinhart (incidentally a name I chose for my last cat) was heady, deep and fruity with an inspired kick from Belgian yeast.
Other winners were Flying Dog's Gonzo Porter, Marble's Irish and Chocolate Stouts, Brooklyn Chocolate 08/09, De Dolle Stout plus HP's from Riverhead, Brown Cow and Elland AND a memorable espresso moment from Saints and Sinners - the delectable Insomniac!
So anyway that was supposed to be a review coz I got my laptop charger back so I'm... well... back. It got out of hand I admit.
Here's some drinking and writing.