Big City Brewing Company Ltd. - Jamaica Stout

Big City Brewing Company Ltd. - Jamaica Stout

Beer Club featured in International Beer Club U.S. & International Variety Beer Club



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Big City Brewing Company Ltd. - Jamaica Stout

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    Pint Glass or Snifter
You’ve probably heard the story of how the India Pale Ale (IPA) style evolved as a more highly-hopped and bigger alcohol brew in order to make it from England to the British colonies in India without spoiling. You might be thinking: yes, but what does that have to do with a Jamaican stout? Well, it turns out that the story of the IPA actually has some parallels with the evolution of the “tropical stout,” which is the stylistic category into which our current beer falls. Stout is a wide-ranging group of sub-styles, with most pub-goers familiar with the Irish Dry Stout (like Guinness or Murphy’s). Just like with IPA, a modified type of stout was needed in order to survive the long and often very warm voyage to various tropical and other foreign locations, and then stay in good shape long enough to be enjoyed. Thus, a roastier, heavier-bodied, and higher-alcohol stout evolved known as Export or Foreign Stout, with such brews made for, or in, the tropics known as Tropical Stouts. Tropical stouts can actually be quite sweet and sometimes without much roast character or dry bitterness, while Export versions are usually moderately dry (in some ways like a scaled up Irish dry stout). Big City’s Jamaica Stout offers fruity esters reminiscent of raisins, prunes, and black cherries, plus some coffee-like roastiness on the nose. These notes carry through on the palate with lots of chocolate and coffee, hints of licorice and dark rum, and a bit of a warming feeling from the alcohol. A pretty darn good beer on its own, it’s also very nice paired with chocolate rum cake. Cheers!

You’ve likely heard of, or perhaps even sampled, the Jamaican brew “Red Stripe.”  While such an adjunct lager (brewed with a heavy percentage of non-barley “adjuncts” like rice or corn) is certainly not the kind of beer you’re going to receive in the beer club, it’s actually fairly drinkable on a hot day, offering the kind of flavor profile one might find refreshing in the tropical Caribbean climate.  Interestingly, though, it’s not uncommon among island nations in the Caribbean and elsewhere to feature a large number of higher alcohol stouts in their lineup of available brews, as well.

When you think about Jamaica’s warm tropical climate, you might think it odd that the locals would choose a big, thick, high ABV stout as a thirst quencher.  How would that be refreshing? While it’s probably not the first thing most folks would reach for right after a long, hot, day’s work, strong beers are not an uncommon sight in this region home to masses of rum drinkers. And, in some ways the sweeter and more malty flavors present in these stronger tropical stouts can make them a more quenching option than the dry stouts more common in Europe.  It’s likely that in no other place is the old beer myth of “darker means stronger” actually more apt to be true than in the Caribbean.

It’s certainly true among the beers of Big City Brewing Company, located in Kingston, Jamaica.  In 1994, the founders set out to create a local beer consisting wholly of local produce, and in 1999 they acquired a sizeable brewing facility downtown along with top-of-the-line equipment from Germany, Italy, and the United States.  Although foreign-owned brewing companies have been in operation in Jamaica for more than a century, Big City is proud to stand as the only current Jamaican brewery owned and run by Jamaicans.

For more information about the brewery, visit their website at

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