When it comes to beer, I put myself in the "snob" category.  I'm not one to pick up a Miller or Bud, or anything "light" or, well, cheap.  I prefer microbrews, or minimally something a little bit richer is flavor, less watered down if you will.  The beer that did it for me was Guinness.  Not sure what it is about Guinness: the cascade, the creaminess, or the smooth flavor.  In enjoying it though, I've come to be a big fan of stout beers, all under the assumption that all stouts were dark and rich just like Guinness.  However, that's not exactly true.

By definition, a stout is a dark beer, and is usually higher in alcohol content.  In fact, back in the late 1600's, a stout was the term used to describe a full bodied, stronger beer. Today, however, stouts don't necessarily have higher alcohol content, meaning they're not necessarily strong beers.  Guinness, for example, is more on par with a Miller or Bud.

One thing holds true for all stouts though, and that's in their dark color, as all stouts are made from roasted barley or roasted malt.  That's what gives the beer it's color and coffee like taste. And although they are dark, the common misconception is that they are heavy, which is also not true. Don't believe me?  Line up a stout and a lighter rich roasted beer, then do a blind taste test.  You most likely will be unable to tell the difference.

Stouts come in a wide variety too.  Guinness is considered a dry Irish stout. There's also Russian Imperial Stout which is quite strong, Oatmeal stout that is a bit sweeter, and finally Milk stout, which is even more sweet. There's also Chocolate, coffee, and Breakfast stouts, of which the latter combines coffee, chocolate, and oatmeal stout flavors. Founders Brewery makes one of the best of these in my opinion.

One thing is for certain.  You'll be able to sample most of these at the Cedar Rapids Beer Summit, Saturday, March 12 at the Double Tree in Downtown Cedar Rapids. And it's not just stouts you'll be sampling, as there'll be over 100 craft brews to choose from. The full beer list has not been published yet, but will be soon. In the mean time, get your tickets and get ready for unlimited beer sampling for three hours, for just $30.  Can't beat that!