Posts Tagged stout

Power to the Brewers!

Yellow Springs Pano During our New Year’s trip to Ohio, we went to Yellow Springs Brewery. This super small industrial warehouse was off a side street you would have had to be looking for to find. A standard industrial building of painted white brick on the outside (with accompanying food truck), it had yellow and orange walls inside on one side with grey cinder block on the other. There was an art exhibition going on with the art on the walls, which left painfully little room to navigate. The tasting counter at the back had corrugated metal behind it. The brewing area was to the left behind a windowed wall with a door. Tasting tables were strewn throughout, seemingly haphazardly. There also appeared to be no real system to the line, with people backed up into the entrance to the place.

Bloodsmoke Barrel Aged Imperial RedMy first sample of Yellow Springs product was the Bloodsmoke Barrel Aged Imperial Red (11% abv). This tasty concoction poured deep red in color, with thin, sudsy head. It smelled malty and sweet, with a hint of dark fruit. The taste threw all the sweetness up front, with a load of malts and some fruitiness. Light-medium body and light carbonation did little to clear the sweetness, but it was still not overpowering. It finished slightly sticky sweet and malty, with a bit of fruit trailing. Despite the sugar load, I enjoyed this one.

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Next, I got myself the Birkensocks Amber Saison (5.5% abv). This one poured cloudy red-orange, with sudsy white head. It smelled slightly sour, but that was about it. There was nothing else to distinguish the aroma. The taste was mild and tart, followed by some yeasty, bready flavor up front and a touch of fruit that could have been citrus. Light in both body and carbonation, this beer finished somewhat sticky and tart, with some fruitiness trailing.

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Framework Stout Nitro

Yes, that is Cards Against Humanity on the table to accompany our drinks

I finished the evening at the brewery with the Framework Stout Nitro (6.1% abv). This one poured black, with surprisingly thin brown head. It had very mild, bitter chocolate on the nose. The taste was just as mild. There was a chocolaty bitterness up front, with some roasted malts into the middle. It had medium-heavy body, light carbonation and finished very chocolaty and bitter. A bit too much chocolate for one beer.

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We Do the Mash!

JackolanternWith San Diego Beer Week closing in on us next week, we have Halloween to keep us company this week. With this in mind, we celebrate the scariest beers we can find. San Diego Brewing Co. was more than happy to oblige with their Monster Mash 2015 (8.6% abv):

Monster MashThis “scary dark ale” (read: “imperial stout”) poured black, with thick foamy brown head. Dark fruit and raisin aromas dominated the smell, with some spice and brown sugar making it through. The taste was mild at first, then I tasted spicy dark fruit. It was little bitter going into the middle of the drink. Heavy-bodied with light carbonation, it was smooth to the finish, with more dark fruit flavors and a tartness I had not tasted before. Nice and dynamic for a stout.

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Have a happy and safe Halloween!

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Good Gourd! It’s Upon Us!

Hess Magna CucurbitaNow that San Diego Beer Week2014 is over, the season is here: Fall pumpkin beers! I am always excited for this time of year, as I like all things pumpkin. Well, let me clarify that by saying I like things that taste like an actual pumpkin, not pumpkin pie- unless, of course, it is actual pumpkin pie. That’s what made this one a pleasant surprise.

As you can see, it poured black, with tan foamy head that reminded me of root beer. Smells coming off the top were rich and included bittersweet chocolate, coffee, slight fruitiness of prunes, maybe a little apple and some spice- a nice complexity that gave me great hope for this beer. The first thing I tasted was the chocolate, followed by what almost tasted like a sourness that I assumed might have come from the pumpkin (if it was made with any.) It had almost no noticeable carbonation, so it was very smooth and velvety, if a little thick on the mouthfeel. It finished a little dry, but the overall roasted malts persisted throughout the whole experience. Hess pumpkin stout head

Overall, I liked this beer, thought it had a little too much of the cursed pumpkin pie flavor for me. At first, I rated this a 3.5, but it grew on me afterward and I rate it:

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Sowin’ Oatis

IMG_1928 Ninkasi is my favorite brewery. Oatmeal stout is my favorite kind of beer. Put the two together and you have one fine beer experience.

This one pours a rich, thick root beer color, with a tan frothy cap of foam on top. The aromas coming from the glass couldn’t have been more comforting: sweet vanilla and chocolate, with hints of bitter maltiness lurking just behind. The taste, per usual, was much the same. The richness of the vanilla and chocolate were the first to come through, followed by some bitterness and finished with a very mild aftertaste of the vanilla and a bit of the chocolate.

As this was an oatmeal stout, it lacked both the grainy taste and hop bitterness some regular, to contrast stouts can have. Simply said, this is a fantastic beer you can enjoy anytime of the year.

I also want to look for Ninkasi’sIMG_1929 German-style lager called Lux, it with this good, though heavier-by-nature beer. More on that later, if I can find it.

On a suggestion by one reader (whose suggestion came in offline), I will start giving the beers I put up here a rating on a scale of 1 to 5. I know I am hardly the first to do this, but you are here, so I want to share with you my overall impression.

I would give this beer a:

5

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Make mine a venti!

IMG_1926Whenever I have the chance to have two (or more) of my favorite things at the same time, I jump on it. That’s why when I saw this beautiful bottle from Lagunitas Brewing Company in the grocery store, I couldn’t help myself. As the name indicates, this beer is brewed with coffee in it, which according to the folks at Lagunitas, makes it a really nice breakfast beer.

Well, I didn’t want to wait until breakfast to have this beer. Plus, I have to work in the morning during the week. It pours a deep dark brown, as you would expect from a stout. On top is a cap of off white head that is fairly effervescent for a stout. The first thing to hit my nose was the coffee flavors. The official description of this beer touts it as beer first, coffee second. My experience, however, was coffee first, though this may have been due to my expectation of a strong coffee flavor. With that still lingering in my nose, the first sip was also a pretty strong coffee flavor.

The bitterness from the java gave way to the more malty toffee flavor of the beer. It was also more heavily carbonated than I had expected. This surprised me a bit, but didn’t really take away from the beer. It reminded me of the mouthfeel of New Castle Brown Ale. The finish was fairly dry and earthy, with hints of vanilla and of course coffee.

I liked this beer. I expected motor oil, as many coffee stouts tend to be thicker than mud; this one was pleasantly light (for a stout). Some reviews I have read rail against the coffee in it, calling it “overpowering.” As I was expecting a bunch of coffee, I didn’t mind that at all.

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It’s so good, it’s stupid!

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Oh, Coronado, how I love thee. Well, at least I love thine beer…anyway, this came across my Facebook feed and I so wanted to go. Alas, I had to be at work during the hour of the event, so a friend went for me and picked up this special limited release barrel aged Stupid Stout. I really like their normal Stupid Stout, but this one was aged in oak bourbon barrels, giving it what I expected to be a sweetness that usually accompanies barrel aged beers.

That couldn’t have been further from the truth. It poured smooth, with a frothy, soapy medium tan head that further confirmed my preconceived notion that this was going to be a super rich tasting beer. Smelling it, I got rich coffee and bourbon flavors. While not particularly boozy, I could definitely tell this was a pretty alcoholic beer. The first sip, much to my pleasant surprise, was like dipping my tongue into a smooth, glass of oaky straight bourbon. It dominated my palette right off the top. The flavor faded to the coffee notes and finished with the warmth from the alcohol.

What surprised me most about this quite mellow beer was how it avoided the over sweetness common in barrel aged beers. Also, the absence of the customary stout bitterness was a little unexpected, but not at all missed in this brew. It combined two things I love dearly: whiskey and beer and for that I applaud Coronado Brewing Company.

My only regret is that I may not be able to find it before the Super Bowl.

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Green Flash Brewing Company

IMG_1657Last night I had the opportunity to go to the Greenflash Brewing Company. I was a little afraid of this one, since I had yet to fully check out their selection. I only knew them as purveyors mainly of IPA style beers, which don’t like me very much (they give me heartburn that feels like a volcano in my chest).  Despite having a menu made up mostly of IPAs, turns out they have a few really good brews.

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I started out with with a Double Stout Black Ale. This was an excellent place to start, not the least of the reasons being that stout is one of my favorite styles of beer…the nearly 9% abv helped, too. IMG_1658It was served in a 13 oz. tulip glass, which was a little fancy, but a pleasant surprise compared to the 8 oz. glasses I normally find in tasting rooms. The head was a nice rich tan color, hugged the sides of the glass only slightly and didn’t really hang around too long. It had a nice caramel smell, with a little bit of bitterness. The taste was rich and slightly creamy, with not much alcohol taste, but the warmth showed up toward the end. Overall, a very mellow beer that I would definitely recommend.

Next, I decided to go a little lighter and had the East Village Pilsner, a very light and fresh-tasting beer that is very easy to drink. There wasn’t much head on it and it smelled every bit as clean as it looked. At 5.3% it is a nice cool down beer.

Except that I didn’t stop there and had a taster of Hamilton’s 7th Anniversary- Junior IPA– I know, I know, it’s an IPA. This was actually pretty mellow as IPAs go. It had a bright red color with bright white head. It smelled heavily of the hoppy character you would expect from any IPA, but the taste was actually a little malty at first. The hoppiness came immediately after, but dissipated quickly to leave the floral notes I expected at the top.

All in all, it was a great trip to a brewery I had initially expected to not like too much. Surprises are the name of the game. After all, ’tis the season!

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KnB 5 Anniversary

Test batch tasterLast Thursday I went to my friendly neighborhood brewery/bar KnB Wine Cellars. I’ve written about them before and I continue to love this place more each time I go. This time I went for the third day of their 4 day long 5-year anniversary celebration. To commemorate this day they were tapping 3 of their own test batches, along with some new menu items. Since I love everything that I’ve tried on their regular menu (so far), I was pretty excited to try anything new they had to offer and they did not disappoint. Come along and let me take you on a little journey…

First up, I ordered a Figueroa Mountain Davy Brown (6% abv). This has a smooth, creamy head, with a medium-dark color. The taste is nutty and creamy, with light hints of caramel and a noticeable caramel aftertaste.

Next I wanted to try each of their KnB Test Batch beers, #3, #4 and #5. I didn’t get to try #1 or #2, which appear to have been IPAs (here is the only “review” of #2 I was able to find). I wanted to start low to high on the alcohol content and still be sober enough to enjoy them. I thought the best way to do this would be to order their beer flight sampler, which is pictured above.

I started the sampler with Test Batch #4, which was a saison (8.1% abv). This beer is a dark yellow, cloudy and very fizzy. The head loosely laces the glass and doesn’t stick around long. The characteristic sour smell of this beer may be off putting to some, but I found it kind of refreshing. Also, the sour taste of lemon and grapefruit, with a little peach mixed in was pretty good. The tart aftertaste stuck around a while and while it was not unpleasant, I felt like heartburn was likely. Surprisingly, it didn’t happen.

Then I went to Test Batch #3, an American strong ale (9.0% abv). A dark burnt orange and semi opaque, I was really looking forward to this beer. I waited too long to get to this one and the head had all but disappeared, but that didn’t seem to take away from the taste at all. It had a semi-sweet, very rich flavor. Its high alcohol content was really apparent cutting through after the initial sweetness. The aftertaste was about the same, though I was feeling the effects of the alcohol by then, so it may have just clouded my taste buds.

Next, I tried the Test Batch#5, an imperial stout (11.2% abv). This was super dark, with a semi-sweet, sugary smell. I again waited too long (20 mins) to get a good look at the full head, but what was left held lightly to glass. The taste was very rich and sweet, with brown sugar and mild spice (cinnamon?). The heavy, sweet aftertaste of caramel was appropriate for such a big beer, but in the end, the sweetness was just a bit overpowering for me.

I was going to stop there, but there was a Shipyard Smasher Pumpkin (9.0% abv) right there on the menu, taunting me. I couldn’t help myself. This beauty poured a surprisingly bright orange color, with an off-white, medium creamy head. It smelled sweet and spicy, with a noticeable pumpkin aroma. It had a very creamy feel to it and tasted a bit creamy as well. I could easily pick out brown sugar, pumpkin, cloves, a little cinnamon- pretty much pumpkin pie in a glass. The cinnamon aftertaste with some brown sugar and clove finished the beer nicely.

I should point out that while I don’t pretend to be a professional, or even experienced beer reviewer, I am able to pick out certain common elements. I may not always use the “correct” terms, but I hope it’s apparent that I do love and truly appreciate beer. Which beers are you most excited about?

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