Schell’s Tropical Stout

James Norton / Heavy Table
James Norton / Heavy Table

How terrible is it that we were hoping that the new Schell’s Tropical Stout would be redolent of pineapple and coconut to the point of essentially being a piña colada? Yes, that’s the cold weather talking, and no, the Tropical Stout isn’t tropical in that obvious of a way.

Instead, the 10th edition in the Stag Series collection is mildly bitter, malty and chocolaty, and it evokes dark rum’s molasses-like depths. The inclusion of no fewer than eight malts (pale, Victory, Extra Dark Crystal, Light Chocolate, Midnight Wheat, Extra Special, brown rice syrup, roasted barley) no doubt contributes to the layers of flavor.

Like so many beers, the application of room temperature warmth brings out whole new dimensions. We started drinking Tropical Stout quite cold, coming as it did from our uninsulated back porch. At fridge temp, Tropical Stout is mostly notable for its supple texture and relatively mild flavor. But the warmer it gets, the more it reveals chocolate and coffee notes and starts to hint at pineapple around the edges — or maybe that’s just wishful thinking provoked by the dark rummy taste and the brutal Minnesota winter working together on our snow-addled brains.

This is a beer for sipping, not chugging. It’s got depth and a slightly bitter aftertaste, reminiscent of tobacco smoke, that makes it a joy to contemplate in both the present and past tenses. And at 8.5 percent ABV (as per Ratebeer), sipping is a good strategy.