Category Archives: Stout

Beers Across Canada Day 2

Second day on the road and I cleared all those ugly mountains dominating the British Columbia landscape finally making it to the flatness where the day is broken up alternately by a cow, a cell phone tower, a garbage can or a sign post that euphemistically states important intersection ahead.

Tonight’s beer selection is (was) Chocolate Bunny Stout (aka Minhas Chocolate Bunny Stout) from Rhinelander Brewing Company based in Monroe, Wisconson.

Sadly this chocolate bunny never quite made it to the tasting stage as it unceremoniously rolled out of my mini fridge and onto the ceramic tiled floor where it promptly burst into many pieces.

As such I can only give my thoughts on appearance and nose. Pooling on the floor this beer was medium brown in colour with just a swirl of mocha coloured head. The nose was big and chocolately. In fact it smelled so good I contemplated grabbing a straw. Well no that’s not true, but I did think it would be quite sad if I drank it through a straw off the bathroom floor. I quite liked the fun label on this beer it’s use of simple colours and patterns, and that is about all I have to say.

Hopefully I stumble across another bottle before I leave Wild Rose country so I can flesh out this post a little more. In the meantime stay tuned to see where I land tomorrow evening and keep you fingers crossed that my next beer makes it slightly closer to consumption.

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Let’s Get Vertical

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A pleasant side effect of all this craft beer cellaring is the rise of the vertical tasting.

For the uninitiated, vertical tastings comprise of the same beer brewed in different years sampled at the same time so you can try to discern the changes that have occurred over the course of cellaring.

Small as my personal cellar is I do have a few beers aging that have different bottling dates including one of my personal favourites The Abyss from Deschutes Brewery.

Though I doubt any self-respecting beer geek has not tried this beer just in case, The Abyss is a malt-forward, molasses heavy, rich and viscous Russian Imperial Stout that weighs in at a non-too-shabby 11.6% ABV.

For our version of a vertical throw down the hubby and I compared a 2009 and a 2012 bottling.

Abyss 2009

Pours deep black brown with lots of mocha coloured head on the pour then a light skim and ring. Smells very liquory with almost a wine like nose. First few sips are rich and malty but also a bit harsh with a twinge of metallic or astringency that I did not expect from this beer. A full bodied beer. Hubby got an almost sour quality on the nose. Could be a bad bottle, bad storage or a bad year. Not the Abyss I know and love anyway.

Abyss 2012

In appearance the 2012 is pretty much identical to the 2009 perhaps with a bit more head on the initial pour. Liquory on the nose with lots of liquorice. First few sips are full-bodied with roasted malt and some alcohol. This beer is nice and warming as you drink. There is some bitterness on the finish. This bottle was far better than the 2009 but not nearly as good as The Abyss on tap at the brewery this winter.

If you had asked me before this taste test, which version would taste best I would have said the 2009 no contest. Typically I found found my cellared beers more mellow, better balanced and slightly stronger than the un-aged counterparts. In this case it was just the opposite so if you have some bottles stashed away don’t be afraid to pull them out sooner than later…;


Out of the Cellar: Full Sail Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout

One of my all-time favourite beers made an early exit from the cellar last night to round-out the hubby’s last few beers while he is still glutening (probably not a real word but it should be).

 

Full Sail Imperial Stout

 

Full Sail Imperial Stout pours deep black brown with lots of mocha coloured head that quickly fades away to a ring around your glass. Deep and rich caramel malts on the nose belay the rich and sweet stout in your glass. First few sips are sweet, malt-forward and slightly oaky. This imperial stout that somehow manages to bring big character to the table without putting you out of commission after a bottle. In other words, it carries it’s 9.6% ABV quite well. This beer is full bodied and warming. The finish is roasted grain, caramel and just a touch of booziness.

I prefer my stouts on the sweet and rich side as opposed to the bitter and dry side so this one is just right. I have had several vintages of this beer it is has always managed to be a hit, which is no small feat. If you have not had the pleasure pick one up you won’t be disappointed.

 


New Brew Friday: AleSmith Speedway Stout

Happy Pi Day fellow beer geeks (or March 14th for beer fans) and also happy 250th blog post to me!

In the spirit of all things geeky, I felt this New Brew Friday edition warranted an extra special brew, one that has been the recipient of much beer geek love, one that in its’ barrel-aged format warranted the title of #1 Beer in the World from RateBeer, one that in its’ plain old regular format garners a perfect 100 on RateBeer, and one that I have been hunting for some time and finally captured and brought home.

 

AleSmith Speedway Stout

 

Speedway Stout from AleSmith Brewing Company is described by the brewery as “A HUGE Imperial Stout that weighs in at an impressive 12% ABV! As if that’s not enough, we added pounds of coffee for a little extra kick.”

I started with the best of intentions for cellaring this beer but alas it only lasted about six months in stasis before the hubby and I were compelled to drink it, partly due to his looming gluten-free lifestyle and partly because we knew it was going to be great.

Over the course of my 250 blogs I have tried many fabulous beers and even a few beers that proclaim they are the best, often these brews, while fantastic, tend to fall short of the hype largely to the dizzying expectations built around them. Thankfully Speedway Stout delivers as promised.

This stout pours blackest brown with lots of airy mocha coloured head. Big, I mean really big, coffee and chocolate nose. First few sips are slightly bitter coffee and chocolate. The mouthfeel is very smooth and this stout is full-bodied. As you drink, roasted malt and caramel character emerges and nicely offsets the bitter. Incredibly easy to drink despite the high ABV with no harsh alcohol-iness. Speedway is one of the few imperial stouts I have tried that does not require any downtime, it drinks great from start to finish. Speaking of finish, it is just slightly bitter and dry. Overall, a well-balanced and highly addictive stout and I have to say Speedway Stout is right up there are one of the best beers I have had the pleasure to drink.

I can think of nothing more fitting to mark my 250th anniversary post. Here’s to the next 250 …Slainte!


Out of the Cellar: Barrel-Aged Old Rasputin XV

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It is always a bit of a gamble when a gold standard beer like Old Rasputin is barrel-aged, I mean you already have a great beer so why gamble?

Well as all good gamblers know the thrill is in the chase. The end product is not the rush, the rush comes from pushing the boundaries to see just how far you can take things without going off the edge.

So is the barrel-aged version better than its originator? Stay tuned to find out…

Old Rasputin XV pours a dark caramel black brown colour with a nice ring of cream coloured head. Lots of chocolate and vanilla one the nose with some sweet bourbon notes coming through. First few sips are a bit harsh I find the alcohol taste a little too much at the forefront. After breathing for a bit this one settles down and the usual Rasputin character emerges, slightly dry and bitter, chocolately (think raw chocolate), with medium body and smooth on the finish. Throughout you get the sweet bourbon flavour, which is quite nice BUT I have to say I prefer Old Rasputin sans barrel in this round. Partly I think this beer was drank too soon and it could have benefited from more time in the cellar. Guess I’ll just have to pick up another bottle and try,try again!


Out of the Cellar: Black Ops Edition

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The oldest resident in my cellar has gotten itself drunk.

In 2009 when I was still just a fledgling beer geek, the hubby and I picked up a rather expensive bottle of Brooklyn Black Ops an 11.6% stout aged in bourbon barrels. This was our first real foray into serious beer purchasing and our first hesitant steps towards the creation of a beer cellar. Or in other words, resisting temptation to drink it right away we stashed the bottle in the farther (and coldest) corner of our office.

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Black Ops pours blackest brown with some mocha head on the initial pour, which dies down to a nice ring around the glass and a slight skim. Big and boozy nose on the initial pour it quickly calms down to a caramel malt nose. First few sips are surprisingly smooth, no harshness from the alcohol, sweet and rich with just a hint of chocolate. Usually I find these big barrel aged beers to be very complex but Black Ops is deceptively simple and eminently drinkable. As you drink the warming sensation begins and there is medium body to this beer, not the viscous brew I was expecting, and this simplicity is really what contributes to its’ drinkability. The finish is kind of quiet with a lingering sweetness.

Overall, a very impressive beer and one that demonstrates the benefits of cellaring.


They say I’m the Great Beer Blender

Pint of Delight

 

Well no one actually says that but I thought it made for a clever post title.

During my recent visit to Seattle I stopped into the Taphouse Grill to sample from their extensive (160 tap) beer menu. While there were no standouts in my bartender selected sampler tray there was a standout in the dessert section of the menu dessert beer!

 

Taphouse Grill Menu

 

These beers were not the high ABV barley wines or hefty espresso laden stouts that spring to mind when you think of dessert beer, rather dessert beers are wondrous blends of several different beers that marry well to create an memorable end to your evening.

We tried the Pint of Delight a blend of Rogue Hazelnut Brown, Rogue Mocha Porter, Young’s Double Chocolate Stout all topped off with a Lindeman’s framboise and yes, it did taste as good as it sounds.

 

The nose was all raspberry buried in a mountain of airy mocha coloured head. When you sip you first get a burst of berry, which is thick and foamy followed by rich coffee, chocolate and nut flavours. It is kind of like a layer cake comprised of beer. The flavours are distinct but complimentary with none of the beers being so heavy that they detract from their compatriots. By the time you get to the finish you are left with the denser dark beers that leave you with a subtly bitter finish.

 

Obviously I had to recreate this at home for myself.

My version was pretty much the same minus the Rogue Mocha Porter, which I subbed for an Elysian Split Shot Stout and minus the Lindeman’s, which I subbed for Liefmans. Not entirely sure of there ratio I poured equal amounts of the dark beers and topped the glass off with the Liefmans.

In appearance my dessert beer was virtually indistinguishable from the Taphouse Grill version perhaps with a bit less head (their beers were on tap after all). Flavour wise it turns out I was pretty much bang on there as well perhaps erring a bit heavier on the dark beer side and a little less on the fruitiness.

 

I love to blend beers. Whenever I am faced with samples that I am so-so on or when a beer is too heavy or too one dimensional I mix it up to see what happens, This four beer creation has only inspired me to step up my game!

 

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New Brew Friday

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Kelp Stout from Tofino Brewing Company a 6% ABV stout brewed with seaweed.

Kelp stout Pours deepest black brown with lots of mocha coloured head that has decent staying power. A chocolate malt nose, full bodied but not in imperial territory, lots of cold coffee on the finish. The kelp comes through with a salty taste that displaces the usual sweet character in a robust stout. Personally I like this umami addition, which complements the minerally character of Tofino brews. As desserts the world over have shown us the addition of sea salt brings out a whole new dimension to dark sweet things. The problem with this stout for me is my initial impressions did not carry through to the bottom of the glass. By the time I finished this one I was totally kelped out, it just became too much. If I had tried this beer as a taster I would have said I loved it but an entire bottle and I am much more on the fence. Overall, Kelp Stout is definitely worth a try but bring it to a bottle share and let everyone have a little taste or a little kelp goes a long way!


New Brew Friday

TGIF beer enthusiasts. This morning my usually seasonal hometown was blanketed in lovely new snow so it is only fitting that today’s review is for a big winter beer.

 

Winter Beard

 

Muskoka Winter Beard Double Chocolate Cranberry Stout

Winter Beard pours a deep black brown with just a thin skim of head. At first pour this one is chocolate and cold coffee on the nose but as it warms you get some vanilla sweetness in the mix and less coffeeiness, less harshness really, overall though not a strong nose. Winter Beard is thinner in the mouthfeel, lighter bodied, than your average winter stout, which is good considering it is a large format 750ml bottle. Lots of chocolate flavour as you drink with just a hint of dried fruit and some vanilla character. The finish really carries through with the chocolate so the double chocolate moniker does indeed fit this beer. The cranberry was pretty subtle and to be honest I could not probably not say for certain I knew it was in there without the label.

Overall an easy-drinking sweet stout that is quite accessible. Bonus points for the great beer label!


Craft Beer Market, the Vancouver Edition

I am a little slow on the draw so while I was aware of the fact that a behemoth tap room opened a location in Vancouver, BC it took me until last week to actually visit and, to be honest, I only went in because I was at nearby Legacy liqour store and managed to snag a free parking space.

Craft Beer Market

Craft

The Vancouver edition of Craft Beer Market is located in Olympic Village (False Creek) in the gorgeous Salt Building. Before I get to the modern incarnation of the building here is a little history courtesy of Scout Magazine

“Thanks to its crisp, polished finishes and bold color scheme, the Salt Building could easily be mistaken for a brand new structure leaning on our city’s penchant for industrial design. The truth, however, is that this spot is the real deal featuring a long history that reflects much on our city’s changing industrial landscape and operations. 

Built circa 1930, the original 13,000 square-foot space served in partnership with the Bay Area salt trade in San Francisco, whereby unrefined salt was shipped to Vancouver for secondary processing and extraction… The structure features a complex roof truss system bearing weight onto numerous columns, with a large clerestory of windows brightening the long stretch of working space.” 

Craft Beer Market Kegs

Craft Beer Market Inside

Craft Beer Market a self-described ‘premium casual restaurant’ boasts 140 taps with over 100 of said taps devoted to beer, Canada’s largest selection. The sheer logistics of the volume of beer being tapped here is staggering and the sight of a mountain of tapped kegs sprouting silver tentacles, filled with numerous beer lines, is worth the visit alone.

Now I have to interject with a bit of a personal hang-up before I continue. Typically, I am not a big fan of big. Big beer, big box stores, big vehicles, big homes, (big hair is cool though), I feel like it all screams over-compensation or, even worse, it is simply big for the sake of being, well, big. As I sat down to peruse the menu I did my best to shelve this bias and be the objective blogger I was destined to be.

Craft Beer Menu

Lo’ and behold there are many beers on tap here so it is as advertised. Beers are broken down by style to help guests manage the mega-menu. Rotating guest taps and cask night on Tuesdays add some new items into the mix, while pre-chosen flights offer guidance to the overwhelmed – though the ‘what the locals drink’ menu boasting two Stanley Park beers did set off some alarm bells.

Flight at Craft

Odd as it may sound in this veritable sea of options I had a really hard time choosing something to drink, not because there were so many beers I wanted to try but rather just the opposite because there were so few.

The beer menu was predictable in the sense there were no surprises to be found.  It was like walking into a provincial liqour store and seeing the familiar beers we know and love from the familiar brewers we know and love and feeling that slight twinge of disappointment that there is nothing to get excited over, nothing different to be discovered. For the non-craft beer nerd it must seem like a cornucopia of choice but for the veteran it felt a little stale. Granted the usual suspects are on tap so if draught versus bottle turns your crank you will be pleased.

I settled on an Elysian Oddland Series Spiced Pear Ale, a hoppy ale, and the hubby tried Ommegang Game of Thrones Take the Black Stout, a pretty standard stout. Overall, both beers were pretty middling. When our server asked what we thought I mentioned some thoughts on the Elysian but they pretty much tuned out so I figured we were not going to talk shop.

Elysian Spiced Pear Ale

Game of Thrones Take the Black Stout

Personally, the whole thing felt a little corporate lacking in the ambiance, engaged staff and unique and/or challenging beer options that really make a tap room worth its’ salt. While I understand the need to have the majority of beers be something accessible I felt like there was no heart behind brand, that behind the beautiful facade there is no real love of craft beer here.

Beer on Tap


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