One of the world’s most iconic breweries is changing its business model, and it already is benefiting anyone in the U.S. that loves beer with a world-class pub nearby.
That brewery is none other than Samuel Smith’s Brewery, or “The Old Brewery” in Tadcaster, North Yorkshire (England). You might have heard me gush over their Taddy Porter in a previous column but there isn’t a beer in the brewery’s portfolio that I wouldn’t approach without anticipated delight.
Things just got a lot better because for the first time Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout now is available on draft in the U.S.
Ever since Sam Smith beer came to the states back in the 1970s, it only was in bottles. Always concerned about quality, traditional methods of brewing still are implemented including in-house cooperage (barrels/casks). The naturally conditioned draft beer also is hand-pulled from oak casks.
The original 1758 well still is in use with water being drawn from 85 feet underground. Nearly all beers — brewed from only natural ingredients without chemical additives, raw material adjuncts, artificial sweeteners, coloring, flavors, or preservatives — are fermented with the original 19th century yeast strain in slate vessels (“stone Yorkshire squares”) for full-bodied taste.
So, to reiterate, these guys take quality and tradition seriously. But after much prodding by their remarkable importer Merchant du Vin, the Old Brewery finally decided to bring one of its beers to America on draft.
If there ever was a beer meant for breakfast, it probably would be one of Samuel Smith’s rich, roasty, chewy stouts or porters. At 5 percent ABV, the Oatmeal Stout, in particular, offers a nice sipping opportunity. Sessionable, silky-smooth and carrying dark roasty notes of coffee and chocolate, this one finishes moderately dry and bittersweet. (It’s even vegan friendly according their website.) As you probably can imagine, it’s even better on draft.
For the beer aficionado that has been drinking exceptional beer for a long time, this is quite a development. And, according to my sources, the excitement may continue into next year. Depending on how soon empty kegs get back to the brewery, there are plans for another draft release in early May.
The influential Samuel Smith was one of the first to ignite the craft beer movement in the U.S., so it seems only natural for it to be at the forefront of renewing an American appreciation in the subtleties of great British beer.
And for me, that is one big sip of freshness.
This week’s recommendation: Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout, a nearly opaque, silky, roasty Oatmeal Stout. 5 percent ABV. Tadcaster, England.
— Colin Hubbell is co-owner of the Green Onion Pub and The Beer Hub in South Utica. His column appears weekly.