Maclean’s Luck & Charm Oatmeal Stout (Alcohol 5.6%) LCBO and Brewery $2.95 (473ml can)

Now, I’ve never been one to live by the rules when it comes to drinks and seasonality; I drink rosés throughout the darkest and most bitter of the winter months, and darker beers even in the sweaty dog days of summer.

Which brings me to an Ontario Oatmeal Stout that I’ve had a devil of a time tracking down since I first purchased 12 cans earlier in the year; I can find nary a trace of it on the LCBO website… it’s almost as if it never existed! I’m guessing that it may be a seasonal for St. Patrick’s Day or something, but seeing as I’m Scottish/Italian, and that Scots and Italians are they only people I know who DON’T celebrate St. Patrick’s day, so days like that just pass me by.

Nevertheless, I tend to enjoy stout for a very particular reason; the only occasion that I turn to stout is just before turning in. Over the years I have discovered that enjoying a stout as a nightcap is the most pleasant of soporific experiences, leading to the most calming of sleeps. Whilst I am pretty sure that this is not exactly the purpose for which the brewer intended, I can assure you that for me it works better than any sleeping pill would ever do. Which poses a problem, as I only have another couple of cans left! I’m not sure of I can hold on until next St. Patrick’s Day! Perhaps I’ll need to find another brew that is more readily available. Any suggestions?

Popular in the 1800s and often given medicinally to lactating mothers, Oatmeal Stouts have quite the history. Oats had been used as a brewing ingredient for centuries as it was an abundant crop with evidence of its cultivation dating back to Bronze Age Switzerland. How widely it was utilized in brewing is less certain, though oatmeal appears to have fallen out of favour as other grains came to the fore. One could find some examples in the United Kingdom, particularly in Scotland and Yorkshire, but it wasn’t until the 1890s that oatmeal stouts became more commonplace throughout the country.

Scottish brewery Maclay promoted their Oat Stout with the following questionable claims:

“Its tonic properties are fully demonstrated in the marvellous results produced by its use in convalescent and in chronic wasting diseases, where its nourishing and stimulating effects are admirable …”

Not one mention of the sleep-inducing properties I find so irresistible, though!

Many think of stouts as heavier beers, but this is not necessarily the case. I’m going to steal a line from Beer Advocate user Pootz, and tell you that this “pours black as a taxman’s heart”, as it certainly does. It also pours creamy and rich with a decent tan head and moderate webby lacing. This richness doesn’t make it too heavy on the palate though, as I find it quite sprightly. One will find aromatics and flavours of dark roasted malts, espresso (funny, as I run a mile from anything coffee-related usually), slightly bitter treacle, cocoa nibs, and an interesting oatmeal dust-like finish.

4 apples out of 5
(Four apples out of a possible five)


Edinburgh-born/Toronto-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge, and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution… And he’d take this over Zopiclone any day (or night).