Sometimes while standing in the beer aisle and contemplating life, I cannot decide what style of beer will be on my menu for the evening. With more and more quality beers showing up at my local grocer, it is starting to become a little overwhelming. When those beer panic attacks happen, I usually grab the nearest company sampler pack to cover all of the necessary beer bases. That was last night, and my choice came from the very respectable Sierra Nevada.
The Beer Camp sampler is quite amazing. Sure, a little early in the review, but let’s just get that out of the way. This sampler is in a whole different class of sampler, as the company runs a contest to bring in different home brewers to help make some interesting beers. Great concept, and even better execution. Let’s start part 1 with the Oatmeal Stout:
The beer pours pitch black, with a larger than normal tan head. The smells off of the top are of nice bitter chocolate, mixed with roasted malts. Tasting, this beer hits you with those familiar favors, but also with hints of coffee, and a small but noticeable hint of hops. Maybe it is just my mind playing tricks on me, but I always expect that familiar Sierra Nevada hop flavor with all of their products. I can taste a bit of hops though, and it makes this beer very smooth. To say that this beer is smooth and easy to drink would be an understatement. I would almost describe it as silky.
As per the norm, this beer ranks high for me. I love Sierra Nevada’s products, and this beer is no different. This is the quintessential stout in my house now. Yes, I just said that about Founders Breakfast Stout a couple weeks ago. This beer tops it. Hands down. My new favorite stout, and now placed into my top 5.
Well done Sierra Nevada, now put this beer in a six pack. Or at least a single big bottle.
Fall has really arrived here in Southwestern Ohio, and with that comes darker style beers. That said, starting earlier this month, Founders Brewing, out of the state up North, released bottles of their fabled Breakfast Stout. With the draft release being today, it is only fitting that I tackle this one on a Friday night. Breakfast for dinner? Yes please. Enter the Breakfast Stout:
To get this started, let’s have a story: I have wanted to try this beer for some time. My first experience with it happened at a friends wedding. After one or two too many rum and cokes, a friend handed me a bottle of this and proclaimed, “This is one of the greatest beers that I have ever had!” Instantly, I was intrigued. At this point in the evening, the wedding reception had moved into the hotel bar. In my rum clouded vision, I insisted that the bartender should open this beer for me, as I did not have an opener. He politely told me to take my drunk ass back to my room. I then, when he was not looking, proceeded to try to open this beer on the fancy marble counter top. After a few tries, much to my dismay the bottle was still intact, and now in the hands of my wife after she caught me in the act of trying to open the bottle. Fast forward to the next morning, and the bottle had disappeared, but my interest in this one was still hanging on. To this day, I am not really sure what happened to that bottle.
Enter today. After securing a 4 pack of this beer, it was finally go time. The beer pours nice and dark, like a good stout should. This one however, has a very pronounced head. Aroma wise, nice notes of coffee and roasted malts hit your nose. When the beer hits your taste buds, you will be hit with flavors of coffee, malts, bitter chocolate, some oatmeal flavor, and more coffee at the finish. Carbonation is spot on, this beer feels good in your mouth. It basically makes you want to have another. Careful with this beer though, as it clocks in at 8.3% ABV, which is heavy duty for a stout. It blows my mind that this beer is so high in ABV, as you cannot taste the alcohol at all. This one is very enjoyable, and it sets the new standard in my household for a stout!
When you think of stouts, if the first beer that pops into your head is a Guinness, you NEED to drink this beer. It will completely re-write your opinion of the darker craft. I will even go on to say that I enjoy it above and beyond my favorite stout, Sam Smith’s Oatmeal stout. This beer delivers, so go give it a shot! It pains me that it has taken so long to finally drink one of these amazing beers, but boy am I glad that I did. Once again, Michigan delivers the good stuff. I really need to look more into property up there…
Well done Founders!
One amazing quality about craft beers, is that more and more, they are showing up in the most random of places. When I think of craft beers, one of the I places that I do not think of is Youngstown Ohio. More historically known for its former steel industry, I only think of it as the family lands of my wife’s side of the family. Now however, Youngstown has an up and coming brewery by the aptly named Rust Belt Brewing Company. Enter their Coke Oven stout:
The term “coke oven” refers to Youngstown’s steel heritage, not the world famous soda. As a history buff, this little historical nod makes me happy. So let’s see how this stout fares…
The beer pours a nice oil black in the glass, with barely if any head. Scents of bitter malts, and a tiny bit of coffee flavors. Taste wise, roasted malts hit you first thing, with a tiny hint of chocolate bitterness. Not much really jumps out at me with this beer, very average at best for a stout. The big downer for me with this brew however, is that it tastes like a soda. The carbonation is a little high for my tastes in a stout. Maybe instead of naming this beer after the steel heritage of the city, they are actually referring to Coca Cola. Just a thought…
I love supporting smaller scale breweries, and from their beer list I will try their products again. However, when it comes to stouts, I will be passing on the Coke Oven. Be sure to check out their website here to see what else they have to offer.
I will be the first to admit, that Dogfish Head out of Delaware is not my favorite brewery. My main reason is that I feel that they are a little overpriced, especially for the random, eclectic mix of brews that they produce. I know, you get what you pay for, but in my opinion I feel that there is little “bang” for my buck. Anyway, after that little disclaimer, enter their Chicory Stout:
This stout is interesting. Chicory is one of those flavors that you either love or hate. Luckily, I like it, hence the purchase of this random stout. Anyway, the beer pours like a stout should, nice and dark, but with a little more head than you would expect, with a nice unexpected off white coloration to it. Smell hits your nostrils with hints of coffee, roasted malts, and of course the chicory. Taste really follows suit with the smell, with a bit of bitter chocolate tossed in as well. Overall, not a bad beer.
This is a good beer, but I will say that the price makes me not want to buy it again. It is good, but not exceptional. For it’s price of $8.99 for a 4-pack, it should deliver, and it does not. The price would be fair for a 6-pack, but I will stick with a variety of other stouts the next time the craving hits. Sorry Dogfish Head, its not you, its me.
In other news, this has been brought to my attention:
Not sure if you knew, but God spells music Clutch.
Back a few years ago, a friend handed me a couple bottles of Sam Adams with plain labels, the only words printed on them were, “Coffee Stout.” That was it, nothing more, nothing less. They were part of a tasting event where the taste testers could vote on which beer became the next specialty six pack. The contest was between this “Coffee Stout” and a blackberry witbeer. Not to anyone’s surprise, the witbeer won, and the coffee stout fell to the wayside. Disappointed that I would never get to drink that beer again, I made them last for at least two days. What can I say, it was good. Once they were gone, I began my search for a similar style of beer infusing the bitterness of coffee with a darker, heavier malt beverage. Lots of different brands came and went, but I still thought of my first coffee stout.
This year, Sam Adams relased unto the world their winter seasonal 12 pack, and lo and behold, there is a beer called the “Black and Brew Coffee Stout.” Yes please. Let’s see how this beer holds up to how amazing I remember it, as this was in my beer tasting infancy…
For starters, I am a little biased, for I love coffee. I would say that I am as much of a coffee snob as a beer snob. Well, maybe not that much, but thanks to my in-laws, I have been well versed in the world of delicious java. And this beer has the java. Straight from the label, it states that they use 1.5 pounds of Sumatran coffee per barrel of beer. That is a lot of coffee.
The beer pours more bubbly than you might expect, due to it being a version of an English stout, rather than a traditional Irish one. The beer has WAY more carbonation than a silky Guinness, but this beer is a whole new beast. Roasted coffee beans is the first taste that hits my mouth, hangs out for a bit, and the beer finishes with a nice, bitter bite of dark chocolate. Very pleasing to the taste buds. One of my favorite aspects of this beer though, is the smell. Being a zookeeper, my sense of smell is somewhat distorted, but the scent of this beer cuts through my weakest sense and hits me like my kitchen early in the morning. Coffee is the best part of waking up right?
This beer is a pretty good one if you are into coffee. It is not an overpowering flavor by any means, but it is definitely there when you take a sip. Bravo goes to Sam Adams for at least making this beer to throw into their holiday 12 pack, hopefully they will start making a full on dedicated sixer of this delicious beer. If they made the blackberry witbeer (Which is awful in my opinion) they could add one more sixer variation. At least we can all hope…
Today is a special day. December 5th, a day that most people do not even recognize. Today is the day that beer was given back to the people just 78 years ago. If you still have no idea what I am talking about, today is the anniversary of the 21st amendment, the repeal of prohibition.
For my personal celebration, I pulled from the lineup of my favorite local company, Mt. Carmel. I had never had their stout before, and after searching around for it, yesterday it made the journey back to Milford with me. So without further ado:
I love stouts, absolutely one of my favorite types of beer. This beer is a solid representation of what a good stout should be. Dark appearance, a tan colored head, and a somewhat bitter chocolate flavor round out this beer. It is more carbonated that the stereotypical stout, like a creamy Guinness, but a great flavor overall. This is a solid beer that does everything well, but nothing superbly. A “Jack of all Trades” if you will. That is in no way a knock on the brew, it is good. My opinion could very well be a little altered due to the fact I have been drinking Imperial stouts of the Russian variety lately. Regardless of that, this is a good beer, which I am glad that I finally found. Once again, well done Mt. Carmel.
Hopefully this finds you drinking a finely crafted beer on this special day in beer history!