Holland, Michigan-based New Holland Brewing Company is best known for its Dragon’s Milk imperial stout. In fact, the boozy sipper just so happens to be America’s top selling bourbon barrel-aged stout according the beer’s standalone website. But despite all that fanfare, drinkers shouldn’t overlook New Holland’s toned down, but equally well-crafted, oatmeal stout The Poet. Coming in at under half the ABV, The Poet brings the signature flavors of a stout in a lighter package.
With a raven on the label and a name like The Poet, New Holland channels some Edgar Allan Poe-like darkness with this beer. At least in the appearance, The Poet delivers with a stark black hue that allows just a crack of light to shine through the edges. A brown, foamy head forms and falls, leaving a beverage that resembles a glass of cola.
With The Poet, New Holland offers a low-ABV alternative to the boozier stouts of the season.”
The aroma brings familiar notes of oats, chocolate, and roasted malt. The Poet smells like a bowl of sugary oatmeal with melted chocolate chips, and while that sweetness is the prevailing scent, the roasted malt provides a bitter and drying component to round out the overall aroma.
The Poet’s flavor follows the aroma, with sweet chocolate and malt playing large roles. The oats are still present, but much more crackery and dry than sweet—like chewing a bag of uncooked oatmeal. Both the dryness and sweetness are necessary to keep The Poet from tipping the scales in either direction. The beer has a tickling carbonation that also assists in breaking up the malty character and cleans up the finish.
With The Poet, New Holland offers a low-ABV alternative to the boozier stouts of the season. The flavor battle between sweet and dry doesn’t hijack the palate, but rather comes together in balance. The end product is a sluggable oatmeal stout that provides a bit more flavor than most, by sacrificing some of the creaminess the style is known for.