Forget all the traffic, stress and madness this Black Friday. Instead, I propose we spend the day celebrating inky-black beers, including porters, stouts, imperial stouts, Belgian-style quads, black IPAs, etc.
In fact, according to figures recently released by Bart Watson, chief economist for the Brewers Association, it’s actually prime season for roasty-toasty stouts, as interest and sales of stouts make a big jump in November – right after pumpkin beers fade in October but before holiday beers pick up in December.
Interest in stout and subsequent sales start building as early as August, but there’s a noticeable jump come November 1st. The graph below shows Google searches for stout (beer category searches only as determined by Google). The jump between October and November is the largest of the year (and the November to December gap is very small). Looking at weekly numbers, almost all of this jump happens immediately as October turns to November. From 2011-2014, the last week in October had search volume with an average index of 58.5 and the first week in November has averaged 67.5. In other words, this isn’t just a slow build across the two months, but a sharp jump at the end of October that then stays relatively flat through November.
In Bellingham, you can find many excellent, locally made porters, stouts and imperial stouts from Kulshan, Boundary Bay, Aslan, Chuckanut, Wander and Menace, as well as many from regional breweries, such as Kentucky Dark Star from Fremont Brewing, which is one of the highest-rated beers brewed in Washington state. Keep in mind, most breweries and bottle shops will be closed on Thanksgiving day, so stock up now.
Another reason to celebrate with a dark beer this Friday: Chuckanut will be tapping some of its Baltic Porter that was aged for a year. This malty lager is smooth and roasty with hints of brown sugar, dark fruit and dark chocolate, and it would pair wonderfully with this cold snap we’re having. But it’s only available at the brewery’s Kitchen (restaurant) because there are only a few kegs remaining.
Black Friday is also aligned with Goose Island’s Bourbon County Stout release, and Elizabeth Station will be selling 25 cases of 16.9-ounce bottles starting at 10 a.m. No bottle limits, either.
Black Beer Friday has a nice ring to it. Who’s with me?