My first attempt at a stout was from a Williams Brewing Stout brew kit and it turned out well. It has a great color and the carbonation was spot on with a nice two-finger head that took awhile to recede. The beer tastes sweet with a nice roasty / toasty undertone from the dark malts. It finished a bit under attenuated and I will focus on the wort aeration and use a yeast starter on the next batch. It has a slight grainy finish and a little more aging should take care of this – a couple of weeks / months in some cold storage should even out the flavors. I would also add a few more hops to increase the bitterness a touch. In summary, the beer is easy to drink and it would be easy to drink a number of these with lower ABV (I estimate ~4% ABV and 35 IBU). What I would do differently on the next batch – 1) use a yeast starter, 2) focus on wort aeration, 3) use a touch more hops to increase bitterness. These three things and a little more time in storage should take this beer to the next level. Next up – a pale ale using only Cascade hops. I’ll be brewing this one later today, and yes, I made a yeast starter.
Website description of the Williams Stout Kit – “In England, stout has traditionally been a sweet black beer, often sweetened with lactose. In Ireland, stout has traditionally been dry. William's Stout is slightly sweeter than the famous Irish stout, yet drier than sweet English stouts. A potent stout with a creamy head, our stout derives its rich bittersweet flavor from a combination of a special dark extract, ale hops, and a liquid yeast with a somewhat dry character. A smooth black stout with a balanced character. Alcohol: 4.9%, IBU's 35. Includes 8 lbs. of our blended malt extract, English fuggle and other hops, 125 ml of liquid ale yeast, and corn sugar for carbonation. Makes 5 gallons with a starting gravity of 1.050. Ease of Brewing: Beginner.”