This week was the Raleigh invasion of Goose Island, appropriately called Migration Week. The Goose Island team visited various locations and hosted various events throughout the Raleigh area and brought along some beer that aren’t usually seen outside of Chicago. For Stout lovers like me, I was drawn to the various tap lineups including 2013, 2014, and 2015 Bourbon County Stout, 2014 Bourbon County Coffee Stout, 2013 Bourbon County Barleywine, and 2014 Bourbon County Proprietors Stout. The 2014 Bourbon County Prop is a Stout that I’ve always wanted to taste and really didn’t think I’d ever have an opportunity so I was looking forward to the week. Unfortunately, life gets in the way and I wasn’t able to follow the Goose Island migration except for one event. Ridgewood Wine and Beer hosted a late afternoon session that featured the ’14 Prop. The event started at 4:30 and I arrived at 4:37 to a line about 60 people deep. I had a brief chat with the Ridgewood people and was told that there was no chance I would get even a whiff of the Prop let alone a taste. They only had a 1/6 barrel and that many already in line wouldn’t get it either. Full 12 oz. tastes were being poured and while you could argue that smaller pours would give more people a chance to sample a rather rare Stout, I applaud the fact that a full 12 oz. pour really gives those lucky ones a chance to savor it. I departed with a Goose Island key chain bottle opener and a reminder to myself that the craft beer scene in Raleigh is alive and well! Thanks for coming to Raleigh, Goose Island – hope to see you next year – and I’ll make sure I plan better!
The weekly reviews:
Mexican Speedway Stout – Alesmith Brewing
May 21, 2016 – I was very interested in diving into the Mexican Speedway from Alesmith Brewing that I recently purchased and proxied from my new San Diego friend (thanks Michael!). Mexican Speedway is base Speedway Stout aged in Tequila barrels with coffee, cinnamon, and chocolate. A Stout version of Mexican Hot Chocolate! It sounded great so I was ready to give it a taste.
After my requisite hour long wait gradually warming it, I popped the top. It poured jet black with a nice foamy cream colored head. I caught notes of the tequila, some coffee, and perhaps some sweetness from the chocolate and cinnamon. The first sip was a bit different that what I expected…the tequila aging imparted a flavor that wasn’t what I would consider smooth. It wasn’t bad mind you, just different. The mouthfeel was medium to thick and the aftertaste had a bit of an edge to it. It took a few tastes to get acclimated to the flavor, but once I did, I began to enjoy it. This was my first exposure to a tequila-aged stout, so it took a few sips to get used to it. I must admit that I was a bit disappointed – I love Speedway Stout and my expectations were high – but I just wasn’t expecting the tequila to have the impact that it did. I really enjoyed a snifter of Hammerhead Speedway Stout recently and that may have helped to raise the expectation bar a few more notches! But as I said, I got used to the taste after a few sips, so all was not lost.
The remainder of the bottle was nice and tasty and I quite enjoyed it. I have a few more bottles that are in my beer fridge and I’ll be very curious to see how aging affects Mexican Speedway. I would expect that it would smooth out the tequila, but time will tell.
Stout of this World rating: 4.0 bombers
Stone Xocoveza – Stone Brewing
May 22, 2016 – I was looking for something non-BA, something with a little spice in it, and something I hadn’t had in awhile. Looking through my stout fridge, there tucked in the back was a couple of bottles of Stone Xocovexa! Bingo! That fit all of my objectives, so I pulled a bottle out and let it warm a bit. When I opened it, it poured a beautiful black with a nice foamy head. The aroma was wonderful – notes of coffee, cinnamon, vanilla, and nutmeg – and the taste matched the aroma. A deep complex stout with a medium mouthfeel and a nice bite of pepper in the aftertaste. It’s better than I remembered……what a nice surprise! As it warmed, the aromas brightened and the tastes were beautifully layered, with the smooth heat in the swallow. My snifter was empty quicker than I had hoped!
When I first had Xocoveza around the holidays, I don’t recall this level of complexity or the balance of spices…..it seems like a few months of aging has done it wonders! I’m looking forward to enjoying another bottle soon!
Stout of this World rating: 4.25 bombers