In our rather desultory efforts to try different brews, we have been enjoying the products of Samuel Smith’s Brewery in Yorkshire, founded in 1758 and the only independent brewery remaining in that northern county in England. I wrote about Samuel Smith’s Lager and Winter Welcome Ale at the end of November, but today I want to mention the company’s Oatmeal Stout, made not only from the traditional malted barley but from oats, which Dr. Johnson wittily and disparagingly defined in his dictionary as a “grain which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland appears to support the people.” What, did the Great Lexicographer never indulge in a comforting bowl of hot oatmeal with brown sugar and milk? (Or, as LL consumes it, with milk and salt and butter?)

Anyway, we were quite taken with Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout. I popped the lid on an 18.7-ounce “Victorian pint” bottle, perfect for two to share at lunch, when I was rewarming (a few days later) a pot of the blackeyed peas, smoked hog jowl and turnip greens prepared on New Year’s. The stout is the blackest of black ambers, as opaque as motor oil, though the generous head is a lovely pale ivory color. Flavors of smoky toffee, rye bread, spiced walnuts and soy-glazed roast beef finish with resounding rooty bitterness, like some medicinal tea concocted by hooded monks in 1143 or thereabouts. The earthiness of the stout, its fleshiness and hint of sweetness worked beautifully with the immensely savory blackeyed peas.

Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout runs $4.59 to $4.99 at specialty grocery stores like Whole Foods or Fresh Market.
Imported by Merchant du Vin, Tukmila, Wash.