Textbook Good

Brewery and Country of Origin: Belfast Bay Brewing Company of 100 Searsport Avenue, Belfast, Maine, 04915, USA

Date Reviewed: 10-07-12

In the world of beer critiquing, analyzing what is good and bad in a particular brew depends hugely on the style of the beer. Of course, all beers styles are equal to eachother in potential, but it is up to the brewer to choose whether they want to craft beer in a way that reflects old tradition, or new flair. Both options can produce great results, but like the Microwave, Hybrid Car, Facebook, and Cheese whiz, creators of such departures from what is normal often come under great criticism. So for the breweries who decide that the au courant is too tacky or risky, there is the way of the old. Belfast Bay Brewing from Maine, USA, has decided not to reinvent the wheel. Being one of only two beers that the brewery makes, this oatmeal stout is anything but new. Tried and true, this is a beer that follows a formula whose solution delivers nothing but what anyone should expect out of a genuinely great American stout. Belfast Bay is a small and nimble, but accomplished brewery whose beer has won awards both domestically and internationally as well, and as far as we're concerned, we aren't surprised one bit.
Date Sampled: 9-13-12 At: 7 Prescott Place, Allston, Boston, 02134, USA
Beer Style: Oatmeal Stout
Alcohol by Volume: 5.10%
Serving Type: 12 oz Bottle, 16 oz Stange Glass
Rating: 3.86


McGovern's has an almost opaque, very dark brown appearance which makes it difficult to see any clarity, even when held to a bright light. At the bottom settles some very chunky sediment, probably leftover, unfiltered oatmeal. There is a low amount of carbonation action, giving this beer a finger width tall foam head with short retention.


This beer gives off a very powerful coffee and dark chocolate malt roasted aroma, which hints clearly at the overall flavor of this beer (perhaps even enhances the taste experience). The beer's dominated by dark toasted malt, with almost no hops detectable in the aroma.


This is a medium full bodied beer with a viscosity level to match, and a low amount of carbonation. The leftover oatmeal gives the last few sips of this beer a bit of texture, but this can be avoided by careful pouring or forgetting about having the last drops. This brew closes with a typically dry finish.


A bittersweet taste overall, this beer starts off with a coffee and dark chocolate roasted malt sweetness which dominates the tastebuds, followed by a mellowing out into a semi-sweet chocolate, and finishing with a hoppy and bitter short lingering aftertaste, typical of oatmeal stouts.

Our Take

Unfortunately, unless you frequent drinking establishments within the confines of Boston Red Sox Nation, it is highly unlikely you'll ever get your hands on this great beer on tap. The good news is that if you can't find this brew within your area, you can seek refuge in any other great oatmeal with its well deserved accolades. McGovern's is a beer that is true to the heritage its style demands. An obligatory use of real oats during the brewing process influences the resulting aroma and flavor in only subtle ways, something typical of the style, but a slightly sweeter taste and leftover sediment will ensure you that you don't have to invent a time machine and go back to Europe during the medieval period in order to have a great oatmeal stout. Of course, as any European would have you believe, the British were the ones to bring the Oatmeal Stout back to the modern world, so if you're looking for the original, head across the pond. But for the realist who just wants a great oatmeal stout, don't worry. Because now that some American breweries like Belfast Bay have decided to embrace tradition rather than rewrite it, you can enjoy a beer that tastes just as good as the original, without spending $2000 on a British Airways ticket.