The Stouts Have It: Occupation Day At HopLore Brewing as Part of International Stout Day(s)

The Stouts Have It: Occupation Day At HopLore Brewing as Part of International Stout Day(s)

by Mark E. Lasbury for Indiana On Tap

The weather is changing – cooler days, and longer, colder nights. You know – stout weather. While we have friends who are adamant about the need for stouts all year long, a sentiment that many brewers have obliged by brewing lighter stouts and milk stouts round the calendar, it is still true that late October and November starts the watch for the big stouts. They’re good enough to be drunk the whole year long, so releases like Stalin’s Darkside in early March from Evil Czech Brewery in Mishawaka are certainly welcome, as was the Just One S’more stout from Brew Link Brewing in mid-October. But there’s no arguing that late fall and winter are stouts’ salad days.

Teddy Bear Kisses from Upland Brewing has already hit shelves and draft boards in late-October, and the pace has ramped up for stouts and Russian Imperial Stouts in the last week or so. The signal that we are in full gear is the coming of International Stout Day, held on November 1st in 2018. This is the 7th year for the celebration which started online and picked up steam when bars and breweries started to plan tap takeovers and stout releases around the “holiday.”

The Sinking Ship in Indianapolis has done a complete stout tap takeover for several years now, and will continue this tradition on Thursday, the 1st. Look to their Facebook page for a listing of the stouts to be tapped. Likewise, Burn ‘Em Brewing in Michigan City will be tapping stouts and variants of stouts on the 1st from 2-10pm. However, not all the events will be held on the 1st, many breweries and bars will be waiting for the Friday or Saturday to throw the stout grenade into your weekend. So… what is this beer that becomes so much more popular in the cold weather?

image credit: twitter @birraypaz

Though we don’t know what time of year the first stouts were released or whether they corresponded to colder weather, we do know that it was the 1730s when the word “stout” began showing up in beer ads. The International Stout Day website explains that “stout” first meant something like “proud” or “brave,” but later came to mean “strong.” After the advent of the porter beer about twenty years earlier, brewers used the word “stout” to indicate a beer stronger than porter – both were chock full of carbs, vitamins and could energize the dock workers (the “porters’), but the stout went further in roast, body, and sometimes alcohol.

Several decades after this, the British Empire wanted to increase beer sales to czarist Russia. They brewed even bigger beers and added the word “imperial” to appeal to the czars’ egos (even though “imperial” had been used to describe some bigger porters a few years earlier). This is the genesis of the Russian Imperial Stout that is one of the stars of stout season now. From there, things like the oatmeal stout came along for bigger mouthfeel, milk stout for slicker feeling on the tongue and sweetness from the unfermentable milk sugars, and Irish and export stouts. From there, it was Katy bar the door, with oyster, American, American Imperial, white, and now pastry and pudding stouts.

With stouts being so popular and a day being held in their honor, there is no way we can list all the events being held on and around International Stout Day. Triton Brewing has their Peanut Butter milk stout out now, and will follow this with a S’mores Dessert Stout on November 7th. Upland Brewing will be doing a Teddy Bear Kisses variant tapping on October 30th at all locations, with the bourbon barrel aged and original Teddys on tap to be compared.

Crooked Ewe Brewery in South Bend will celebrate stouts and Day of the Dead over the weekend, from October 31 – November 2nd. Look for four different imperial stouts to be tapped throughout the weekend, including firkins variants of Wendigo American Stout and the return of Norac the Rippin’ Beast Imperial Stout. (Update: Indiana City Brewing in Indianapolis will be releasing bottles of Mimi’s Breakfast Stout on Saturday, the 3rd) If you are looking forward to the 10 yr. bourbon barrel aged Elijah Craig RIS with maple at New Oberpfalz Brewing in Griffith, you’ll have to wait until the 23rd of November, but as for International Stout Day proper, Walter and I will be at The Sinking Ship – slow playing our evening so that we’re ready for HopLore Brewing’s Occupation Day on Saturday, November 3rd.

Soviet Occupation is HopLore’s RIS. image credit: HopLore Brewing

Occupation Day started out as All Stouts Day, but the release of HopLore’s Soviet Occupation Russian Imperial Stout deserves its name in the title. Look for seventeen different stouts to be tapped at the start of the day, including Soviet Occupation and three variants of that beer (CCCP = chocolate, cinnamon, and chili pepper, Stalingrad = coconut, coffee, and vanilla, and East Berlin = tiramisu).

Other stouts on tap will include HopLore’s Amish Crack stout, with 13 dozen doughnuts in the recipe, the How Now chocolate milk stout, and a randalled version of How Now as a banana split stout, and others. Guest stouts will include beers from Burn ‘Em, Four Fathers Brewing, Bare Hands Brewery, 2Toms Brewing, and Summit City Brewerks. Holy smokes – ten HopLore stouts or porters and seven guest stouts. For those non-stout folk, there will be a cider and a house-made sangria on hand.

The HopLore kitchen will be serving a dark chocolate chili on Saturday. Stouts and dark chocolate chili – I almost hope it’s cold that day. Lawney’s BBQ will have multiple smoked meats (also great with stouts) and JB’s Cuisine Machine will also be on hand. Eat and drink to your heart’s content while listening to ZoloPht, a psychedelic reggae band from Grand Junction, Colorado that is stopping at HopLore as part of their Midwest tour. Walter and I haven’t been psychedelic reggae fans to this point, but who knows, this may be our epiphany.

HopLore Brewing is visit worth making – for the food, the beer, and the location. image credit: HopLore Brewing

One additional aspect of Occupation Day is of particular interest to me. International Stout Day just happens to correspond to National Learn to Brew Day and brewers from all over north central Indiana will be on in the parking lot to brew that day and teach whoever wants to learn. Believe me, if you haven’t smelled a brew day before, this is something you want to get in on.

Sure, you can come learn about brewing out of your house and you might eventually end up as a professional brewer with your own branded line of beers, but the true ecstasy is the smell what you or someone else is brewing. Stefan King of HopLore put it this way, “Many craft beer fans have not had the opportunity to see how fun it can be to brew your own. Home brewing is a social experience for many and sharing it is something we, and those that will be brewing, would love to encourage.”

You can purchase drink tickets now on Eventbrite (there is no fee to enter the event), or can wait to get drink tickets at HopLore in Leesburg on the day of the event. However, only pre-purchase guarantees you the opportunity to buy a four pack of Soviet Occupation and its variants. If you haven’t been to HopLore yet, this would be a great opportunity to experience them. Located in the old Leesburg Mill, this is a wonderful space for beer, food, music and community. It’s a gorgeous space – see you there.


note: If you’re not into stouts, MashCraft Brewing will be hosting Mr. Wicked’s Hop Bonanza on Saturday, the 3rd from 1-4pm. Look for sixteen of the biggest hop bombs available to be judged blindly, and then put on tap as they are eliminated. It’s a day of palate wrecking bliss. Click here for tickets.

banner image credit: Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine

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