In the winter time I tend to not get very excited about most Christmas ales and Winter Warmers. There's a few here and there but for the most part I end up feeling disappointed by them and wondering why I paid so much for them (esp. considering some run upwards to $15 a sixer or $10 or more for a bomber in some cases.) Nothing against them-I know it's a matter of taste. My diversions from my standard favorite style's in the cold months tend to lean towards a porter here and there, the occasional Scotch ale and all the different ways stouts are made.
Michigan is in really bad economic shape these days. Over 15% percent unemployment say most recent reports. In an attempt to keep as much money possible in this state I try to go for things made here first before I venture into other places wares. My first stout of this season was Mt. Pleasant's Steam Engine Stout. My second is this oatmeal stout out of city of Holland.
Very dark brown in color but when held up to the light auburn shades come through. Nice half inch head that dissipates fairly quickly leaving a spotty cloud on top and a lacing that builds more and more along side of the glass as the beer is drank. The aroma is very chocolaty malted up front with underlying notes of oatmeal and coffee. The chocolate characteristics are not over bearing and the oatmeal and coffee nuances work very nicely with it.
A very rich and roasted malt & coffee flavor is the backbone of it's taste. There a slight bit of smokiness in there that compliments a sweet dark chocolate and oat demeanor through the middle. It finishes with a slight hop tinge that brings the whole thing together with simple but nice complexity. The amount of carbonation here is nice too making the beer somewhat more effervescent than a lot of other oatmeal stouts but not enough to make it too fizzy. Because of this, and not too boozy 5 and a half percent abv, it's the kind of stout one could drink all day without getting too blown out while watching the snow fall outside.