A great weekend of good tastings:
Friday evening we went to our local Brixx pizza. Brixx is known for their excellent pizza but they also have a pretty good craft beer selection. Friday they happened to have Sweetwater Dank Tank Pulled Pork Porter on tap. I asked for a taste, which they always are happy to provide (our server also brought out tastes of their other two Stout offerings which scored big points from me!). I liked the taste sample of the Sweetwater so I went for a full pour. Wow! I never thought you could taste smokiness in a beverage, but it was a very interesting taste sensation. I noted a bit of a bacon/pork flavor as well, but it was the smoke flavor that was the most forward. However after awhile, it also started to overwhelm my taste senses and by the time I took the last sip, I was glad to be done. Kudos to Sweetwater Brewing for trying something out of the ordinary; I always commend those who walk that fine line between genius and insanity. I’m sure there are those who think Dank Tank Pulled Port Porter is sheer genius; however, while it’s not quite insanity, it’s a beer I probably wouldn’t actively seek out. I’m not giving this an official review since I had it in a restaurant, but it’s a beer that you should know what you are walking into before you commit to a full size pour! You may find it very tasty…or you might not!
Saturday brought out the burgers on the grill and I brought out a limited release of a local favorite – a double barrel aged version of Raleigh Brewing’s Miller’s Toll, an imperial stout
aged in bourbon barrels for 9 months, followed by 3 months in rum barrels. It was bottled for their anniversary celebration a few weeks back in a limited run of 400 bottles. I cracked one open and….boy am I glad I have another bottle! My review is below, but it’s a winner!
Sunday was Easter and I was treated to a couple of enjoyable Stouts. As I was preparing our traditional Easter Seafood boil, I enjoyed Highland Brewing’s The Kinsman Project. It is their great Black Mocha Stout infused with Cinnamon Sticks, Cacao nibs, Vanilla Bean, and Chipotle Peppers. A very tasty Stout with a bit of a bite at the end. See my review below. After the Seafood boil was over, I had the dessert treat I had been waiting to enjoy for a couple of weeks. Frequent visitors to this blog know I visited Big Boss Brewery a few weeks back and had the unique pleasure of an advance sampling of their Root Beer Stout. Ever since that evening, I knew that a Root Beer Stout float was in my future. My local bottleshops finally received their shipments this past week and I was ready for the weekend! My official review is below, but the Big Boss Brewing team made a Root Beer Stout that is a perfect match for a couple of scoops of vanilla ice cream. I never thought that a Stout would go well with ice cream, but I was wrong!
This week brings the nationwide release of Founders Brewing KBS and the inevitable search for a 4-pack of KBS goodness. Our friends in Michigan have been enjoying the 2016 vintage for a few weeks and now the nationwide distribution starts on April 1. Best of luck to those who seek out this Stout!
On to the reviews…..
Raleigh Brewing – Double Barrel Aged Miller’s Toll
March 26, 2016 – I’m a big fan of Miller’s Toll from Raleigh Brewing (see my review in the Recent Reviews). They took it a step further and bottled a Bourbon Barrel aged version (which is also in my beer fridge yet to be opened). In preparation for their Anniversary Party on March 5, the good people at Raleigh Brewing set aside some BAMT and aged it in Rum Barrels for 3 months. They put 400 bottles on sale the day of the party (which went quickly) and I was fortunate enough to get 2. I’ve been patiently waiting to open one and decided today was the day.
It was double waxed to indicate the special release – red for the Bourbon Barrel Aging, with the white wax for the Rum Barrel Aging. Once the wax was removed, the pour was simply beautiful, with a jet black liquid followed by the nice tan foamy head. The aroma was slightly bourbon with a bit of a sweeter scent than normal – I think that was the rum barrels making their presence known! The first sip was nice and smooth…medium mouthfeel….nice balanced bourbon taste but not overpowering at all. Just enough bourbon taste to remind me where this lived for 9 months. The aftertaste was pure Miller’s Toll stout. Raleigh Brewing, this can’t be a one-time release! This is really tasty! I like the impact Rum Barrels have on Stouts….Rum Barrel aging seems to smooth out any “rough edges” a Stout may have. Prairie Artisan Ales Pirate Bomb! is another recent winner that was aged in Rum Barrels.
I was a bit surprised that this clocked in at only 10.5%ABV, as I had expected a higher ABV. No matter, this was a layered treat….malt, some elements of chocolate, bourbon, some sweetness….a lot going on but it all combined to present an amazingly complex Stout! I’m not sure how many of the 400 bottles are left to enjoy (I suspect Raleigh Brewing have a few more in their cellar!), but if you see one in the wild, by all means, go for it!
Stout of this World rating: 4.5 bombers
Highland Brewing – The Kinsman Project: Black Mocha Stout
March 27, 2016 – I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying Highland Brewing’s Black Mocha Stout in the past, so when I saw that their Black Mocha Stout (BMS from here on out) was going to be part of their specialty release program called The Kinsman Project, I was ready to buy. When I saw that they infused BMS with Cinnamon Sticks, Vanilla Beans, Cacao nibs and Chipotle Peppers, I was ready to drink!
Cracking open the 22oz. bomber and giving it a pour reminded me of a jet black waterfall. A nice creamy foamy head completed the pour. Aroma was a bit on the sweet side (Vanilla? Cinnamon?) but not really distinguishable. It was a bit on the cool side when I first poured it (around 45 degrees or so) and my first sip wasn’t much to write about. Thin mouthfeel, but no real flavor except for the chipotle pepper bite at the end. I did like the heat of the peppers. Nothing crazy, just the fact that you knew there was some pepper in there. I let it rest for a bit, sensing that the flavors would emerge as it warmed. I was right….as it warmed, the flavors really released and I could taste the upfront flavors of vanilla, some cinnamon, some elements of chocolate…..and the back bite of the chipotle! Now that is what I was hoping to taste! The rest of the pour disappeared quickly as I really enjoyed the sweet/hot balance of each sip. Note to self and others: Drink this at around 55 degrees or you are cheating yourself out of a very tasty, complex stout! The fact that it is only 5.6%ABV means you can enjoy the entire bomber in a long afternoon – and the second pour will be better than the first as it will have had a chance to sit and warm up a bit! Just put your wine stopper in the bottle and leave it out to warm. Well done to the brew masters of Highland Brewing! There’s more Kinsman Project – Black Mocha Stout in my future!
Stout of this World rating: 4.0 bombers
Big Boss Brewing – Root Beer Stout
March 27, 2106 – Coming into this weekend, I was looking forward to the Root Beer Stout (RBS) float I was going to make on Sunday evening. Fast forward to Sunday evening…..I wanted to review RBS like all of the other Stouts but I also wanted to have a little fun and make a float….so I did both!
The Big Boss brewmasters worked a bit of magic on this one…..It pours nice and black with a bit of a creamy foamy head. The aroma is pure Root Beer but the taste is pure Stout with no hint of Root Beer. Not sure how they were able to pull it off, but they did. The mouthfeel is rather thin, but for a 6.75%ABV Stout, that’s not altogether surprising. There is a bit of a sweet aftertaste, but certainly nothing that would suggest Root Beer. This was an enjoyable and very drinkable Stout which belies it’s perceived novelty of a Root Beer Stout.
Next on the list was the real novelty…a Root Beer Stout float! Simple enough, a couple of scoops of vanilla ice cream followed by a nice pour over of Root Beer Stout! This is the match made in Big Boss heaven! I was a bit unsure at first, but after a few sips, the vanilla ice cream began to melt and mix with the Stout….that’s when the magic occurred. The taste was amazing and the rest of the float disappeared in record time. The malt and touch of sweetness of the Root Beer Stout complemented the vanilla ice cream quite nicely which resulted in a float that wasn’t too sweet, wasn’t too stouty…..it was just right!
Good thing I bought a few bottles, because I plan on leaving them in my beer fridge and waiting for a hot summer day to have another Root Beer Stout float!
Well done, Big Boss Brewing!
Stout of this World rating: 4.25 bombers