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The "Stout Deck" is an open air deck of heavy wood construction, westerly facing, that is used to enjoy the consumption of Stout beers in cold environments (Approximately 27.5° F to ensure larger fluid crystals prior to slushification) whilst embracing spectacular scenery. The "Stout Deck" is normally positioned remotely from any other structures to ensure a more social environment. The structure is thought to be of an Old English design but has been embraced by many New England architects as part of the "Craft Beer Renaissance" sweeping through the Region in the early 2000's.
The deck is usually of solid white cedar construction and for purists the wood is home sawn from felled mature trees. The deck area normally spans 200 to 350 sq.ft. and faces West for sunset effects. Railings are critical for the obvious safety reasons but early designs are classed as "smooth" Stout Decks and have no railings. The deck should extend at least 4 feet above the ground and be trellis faced. The trellis functionally supports the growing of hops for home brewers during the autumn and winter seasons.
Choice of Appropriate Beer
As the name indicates, stout beers are the desired choice of beer for this specific variation of deck. Although a trend of porters and brown ales being smuggled aboard these platforms is a growing problem amongst most stout deck communities these days. This has led to an uprise in beer monitoring procedures. Some of our favorite beers to be enjoyed on a stout deck are Milk Stouts, Oatmeal Stouts, Breakfast Stouts, Irish Dry Stouts and for the traditionalist Russian Imperial Stouts.
Temperature Impact on Drinker and Beer
Temperature is one of the main ingredients in the creation of a good stout deck. The standard temperature for these venues are typically below 36.7° F, but anything 26° F or lower is seen as most desirable amongst owners. These cooler temperatures give rise to a temperature differential for the beer to become super chilled down to the optimum of 27.5° F at a standard elevation within 500' of sea level. The under cooled beer provides greater refreshment to the drinker due to the enhanced taste sensation on the saliva glands. Care needs to be taken to ensure that the beer does not become slushified (i.e. Not Cool to Drink).
Although stout decks seem to be a growing trend world wide with structures popping up thousands of miles from their origins; the most common agreeance amongst the community seems to be that a natural Northeast United States backdrop lends itself as the most enjoyable setting found to date. This has led to certain individuals planting forests indigenous to the fore-mentioned climate in cities such as Dubai, Rio de Janeiro, and Lincoln Nebraska. Also in following suit with the original locals of these architectural feats, snow has become a beneficial feature sought after by more modern affluent builders due to functionality and aesthetics. Although it is customary to shovel these surfaces for safety reasons many owners opt to leave the snow for an even more original feel.
The "Sunset Effect" refers to the west facing attitude of the deck. Just as religious facilities and ceremonies are aligned to celestial events or spiritual locations the west elevation is critical to extend the use of the deck to the maximum amount of daylights hours. Also the ambiance and hues of the waning daylight allow for an evaluation of the lacing (rings left on the glass as the beer is consumed) of the Stout beverage. The "spectral" range of the Stouts are symbiotic with the seasonal foliage combined with the lighting.
Stout connoisseurs will tend to promote the consumption of heavy and darker stouts during the winter season that lend themselves to the lower temperature and the contrast between the snowy back drop. The autumnal period is better aligned with the hazelnut and chocolate stouts with the spring offering being a berry flavored lower ABV. The summer remains the most challenging season for the Stout Deck, the elevated temperatures are not ideal for full bodied Stouts. This led to the growing of hops around the deck providing a useful distraction from the warm weather with the optimism of a uniquely flavored beverage using said fruit.
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