Vadose Zone Vanilla Stout


Review Date 8/10/2019    By John Staradumsky

Vadose Zone? What the hell is that? I know I didn’t know. There I was at Taco Mac, perusing the beer menu when I saw Vadose Zone Vanilla Stout listed on the draft menu. On nitro pour no less! This beer is made by Hutton & Smith Brewing Company of Chattanooga, Tennessee, and hey, it was a stout (and not an IPA, don’t get me started) and from a brewery 90 minutes to the north of me. You had me at nitro stout Hutton & Smith, but Chattanooga brewed adds icing to the cake!

But what about that Vadose Zone? Lets pop on over to Wikipedia, shall we? It says:

The vadose zone, also termed the unsaturated zone, is the part of Earth between the land surface and the top of the phreatic zone, the position at which the groundwater (the water in the soil's pores) is at atmospheric pressure. Hence, the vadose zone extends from the top of the ground surface to the water table.

Well that’s fascinating, but what does it have to do with a vanilla stout? The answers to that question are found at the brewery website, where they explain how Hutton & Smith was named.

James Hutton and William "Strata" Smith are considered the fathers of modern geology, and rightly so. In "The Theory of the Earth", Hutton, a Scot from Edinburgh, illustrates the concept of deep time - the immense expanses of time over which geological changes occur. The Englishman Smith produced the first geological map of the earth, a revolutionary feat, detailing regional geology. Scots and Brits had been drinking beer for ages before any of these revelations came to mind, and it is rumored that our two friends sometimes strayed to focus on their love for tasty brews. Though we can only speculate, it is almost certain that at some point they imagined what it might be like to brew their own beer. We pay meager homage to these two beer drinking pioneers of their field by opening Hutton & Smith Brewing Co. in their names.

Actually, these guys are fascinated with geology. Their brewery logo includes a pair of geologist hammers, and most of their beers are named for the study of the Earth. Tremont’s Tectonic Session IPA or Paleo Pilsner anyone?

Of Vadose Zone Vanilla Stout they say:

This is a mildly bitter stout balanced by the creamy sweet mouthfeel of vanilla.

They don’t list any alcohol content or IBU count, but Untappd lists it at 5.5% by volume. I paid $8.23 for a 23-ounce draft mug at Taco Mac, which is a bit high I think. Still, I would buy it again.

My mug of Hutton & Smith Vadose Zone Vanilla Stout on a nitrogen pour arrived jet black in color with a thick creamy head of nitrogen foam. I got waves of chocolate and vanilla in the nose,  a smooth creamy palate with gently roasted malts, chocolate, subtle vanilla, and a slightly sweet finish with a hint of roast. This is a tasty vanilla stout that I would grant 4 stars on my 5 star scale, with a half star taken back for the high price.















And remember, try a new beer today, and drink outside the box.

*Pricing data accurate at time of review or latest update. For reference only, based on actual price paid by reviewer.