Taking Stock of the Stout!

As we get ready to move into the best time of the year…Stout Season….I thought it was time to take an inventory of what is in the Stout Fridge and what is waiting to get into the Stout Fridge.    Taking inventory does a couple things – it is a good reminder of what is lurking in the back of the shelves and it also give you an opportunity to rotate your Stout Stock by moving some bottles/cans to the front of the line.  I’ve been guilty of sampling the most recent purchases when I could be enjoying some aged Stouts!

I found a few choice Stouts that I’ve moved to the front of the tasting line….and I’ve also realized that I need to enjoy some of the Stouts that I’ve been saving…Parabola, Abyss, even a Bourbon County Rare!  Now that I’ve updated my inventory list of what I have, I can plan my tastings and I can get back into the trading mode….

Have you taken inventory lately?

In other topics…this week was Raleigh Beer Week and aside from specials at all of the Raleigh based Breweries, most of the bottleshops are having specials – many are tappings of rare Stouts that don’t usually make it to Raleigh!!  I was fortunate to visit the Busy Bee Cafe in downtown Raleigh and was able to sample some of Terrapin Brewing’s finest – 2013 Wake-n-Bake as well as comparing Single Origin Stouts Sumatra and Guatemala.  Love the Wake-n-Bake!  There were a lot of enticing stout events this past week, kudos to the organizers and all of the participants of Raleigh Beer Week 2016!

Additionally, I received my monthly Premium Brewpublik delivery recently…..an amazing mix of local, national, and international Stouts!! 2016-09-17_171629343_7eead_ios Tasty Stouts from Twin Leaf Brewing in Asheville, NC, Double Negative from Grimm Artisan Ales (NY), 2016  WOOTStout, and a 3-fer of great 2016-09-10_203330000_02abe_iosStouts from DeMolen Brouwerij in the Netherlands.  The neat part of the DeMolen Stouts are that they are all dated from 2014…some great aging!  I already have enjoyed Cease and Desist this past week and really like everything I’ve had from DeMolen!   I also was pleasantly surprised at the MDXXI Mexican Chocolate Stout from Twin Leaf, a brewery out of Asheville, NC.  Very tasty and something I will seek out again!   Many thanks to my friends at Brewpublik – you too can get incredible beer of your choice delivered to your doorstep.  Give them a shout and let them know the Stoutwhisperer sent you!!



Back from the summer Stout Drought!

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted….sometimes life gets in the way!  I think I had my own “stout drought” with this blog!  With the release of Founder’s Breakfast Stout, I took the opportunity to rededicate myself to posting on a more regular basis, which should be easier with stout season soon to be upon us.  A few observations from the last couple of months:

  • Prairie Artisan Ales is putting out the most interesting and tasty stouts.  Aside from their franchise BOMB!, recent releases of Pirate BOMB!, Apple Brandy Barrel Noir, and most recently Paradise are all worthy of your wallet, no matter the cost.  I was especially surprised at Paradise, which is a draught/draft/tap only release.  Paradise is the most forward vanilla stout I have ever tasted.  I’m a big vanilla fan and I’m 2016-08-23_225552000_28B55_iOSusually disappointed when a brewery touts a stout with vanilla notes – but PAA delivered with Paradise!  Just smelling this stout was worth the price of the pour but the liquid delivered as well…..and I just read a blog post that PAA will be selling a brewery only release of Pirate Paradise!   No way I can make it to Krebs, OK, but if they are able to get this right, Pirate Paradise could the Stout of the Year.  Just wish I had a way to get my hands on one (perhaps if someone from Prairie is reading this….)!
  • Brewpublik, the beer delivery startup, is the real deal!  I signed up for their premium concierge plan and I’ve been getting some amazing stouts delivered to my 2016-04-23_224300576_11E31_iOShouse!  I’m able to select my “crate” and also take advantage of their Instagram flash sales of more scarce beers as well (see bp_reserve).  If you are in their coverage areas (Charlotte, Raleigh-Durham, Charleston, San Francisco), I highly recommend them.  If you aren’t, keep an eye on them (or drop them a note), as they are rapidly expanding into more markets.




  • I enjoy visiting some old friends during the Stout Drought summer months and have reaffirmed my affinity for
    • Founders Breakfast Stout
    • Goose Island Bourbon County Stout (I was lucky – no infections)
    • Oskar Blues Ten Fidy
    • Dark Horse Brewing Plead the Fifth
    • Raleigh Brewing Miller’s Toll
    • Epic Brewing Big Bad Baptist
  • I’ve been intrigued by Stouts from overseas.  I’ve enjoyed some great Stouts from 2016-09-02_212354485_904B3_iOSIceland, Denmark, and Norway!  In fact last night I had Garun from Borg Brugghus in
    Iceland, which had the most licorice taste in any stout I’ve had.  Really interesting taste which I liked in a 12oz. bottle…..any more and it would have been too much!  If you are looking for some variety in your stouts, I would recommend looking across the pond and giving some foreign stouts some love…..




That’s about all for now….about to head into a Labor Day weekend.  I’ll be back soon with some more news and musings about Stouts!

A Stout Drought in Germany


Last week Mrs. Stoutwhisperer and I traveled to Munich, Germany to visit our son.  While we were there, we took a quick trip over the Alps to spend a weekend in Venice, Italy.   We were able to visit a couple of famous beer meccas in Munich, the Augustiner Keller and the 2016-06-20_153653775_7E5EC_iOSHofbrauhaus.  They are amazing for their size, their atmosphere, and their ability to bring both locals and tourists together into an incredible melting pot.  Germans drink their beer in one liter glass mugs (“Ein mas bier, bitte”).  To the left is a picture of a wall full of these glass mugs ready to be filled and brought to your table by waiters or waitresses who can carry 4 or 5 of these mugs filled with beer at a time!!  For someone who drinks their beer in 12oz 2016-06-16_164722435_E5D50_iOSor 22 oz sizes, one liter is quite a bit!  Germany also hasContinue reading “A Stout Drought in Germany”

Migration Week

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.   2016-05-19_221048336_64E43_iOSRidgewood 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.

2016-05-21_195003975_6546D_iOSAfter 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 2016-05-22_200018391_C310E_iOSa 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

Happy Birthday BOMB!

As I was peering into the Stout House (my beer fridge) to decide what I wanted to taste and review, this Christmas BOMB! seemed to call out to me.  I was in the mood for a spicy, 2016-05-08_193403872_01037_iOSthick Stout so it was a perfect match.  Little did I know that I was celebrating both Mothers Day and the 3rd birthday of BOMB!   Our friends at Prairie Ales just posted a blog commemorating the BOMB! birth and announcing the distribution of Birthday BOMB!  Birthday BOMB! is the wonderful Stout that we all know and love with some homemade caramel added to the brew.  Word has it that it has been seen out in distribution and will hopefully be in your area soon.  I for one am looking forward to celebrating the birthday of BOMB! with a Birthday BOMB!

As a quick aside, you’ll note the bubbles on the side of the glass.  A keen observer tweeted me and told me that is a sign of a dirty glass!  I always rinsed out my glass after every session so I thought I was good, but apparently its a best practice to rinse your glass prior to a pour as well.  Another lesson learned…..

Prairie Artisan Ales – Christmas BOMB!

If you’ve read any of my previous reviews, you’ll note that I’m a BOMB! fan.  I’m really taken by the thickness of this Stout as well as the spice palette and the heat at the end.  I’ll cut to the chase – I’m still a BOMB! fan.  The good people at Prairie didn’t do anything to change my mind and more probably reinforced their genius – at least in my opinion!

I took out my bottle of Christmas BOMB! and let it set out for an hour to warm a bit.  As you can see, it poured a nice black with a small liner of a foamy head that dissipated 2016-05-10_232032000_54CBB_iOSquickly.  The aromas brought me back to the first Christmas BOMB! I had back during the holidays….a good strong whiff of spices.  The first sip was nice and thick and I knew then I was enjoying a BOMB!  The Stout coated my tongue and the aftertaste had a bit of heat to it, another telltale sign of BOMB!  The spices added a layer of complexity to this already complex Stout.   This is a great Stout for those who like to have their taste buds bombarded!  As I
neared the bottom of my glass, I thought back to the other BOMB!s that I have had the pleasure of tasting and realized that Prairie has quite the BOMB! lineup!  Truth be told, however, I do believe Pirate BOMB! is the best of the lot (at least of the lot that I’ve had the privilege of tasting!).  I really commend the creativity and innovation of the brew team at Prairie.  I hope to be lucky enough to taste a Birthday BOMB! and see how the caramel impacts the overall flavor.   Happy Birthday BOMB!

Stout of this World rating: 4.25 bombers

My Epic Weekend!

Epic Brewing is best known in the Stout world for Big Bad Baptist,  a 12%ABV Bourbon barrel-aged Stout that has a large legion of followers (now including me!).  Based in Salt 2016-04-30_124127401_CFA26_iOSLake City, Utah,  Epic is in the midst of one of the more ambitious brewing projects I have seen in quite a while.   The Epic team is releasing not 1, not 2, but 14 variations of Son of a Baptist, a non-barrel aged relative of BBB.  The brains behind the brew at Epic is also a coffee lover, so a request went out to find coffee roasters that would be willing to collaborate on small batches of Stout.  The request was to submit beans that would enhance the flavor profile of a Stout.   They selected 14 roasters and made 14 different versions of Son of a Baptist.   Roasters from California to Virginia, Michigan to Texas made the cut….and so did a local Raleigh, North Carolina roaster, Larry’s Coffee!  Larry’s Coffee is a socially and environmentally responsible coffee roaster based in Raleigh.  They roast some amazing coffee and they clearly have fun doing it!  I went on a tour of their facility about 5 years ago and have been a fan (and consumer) ever since.  I especially like their cold brew offering!

To celebrate the occasion, Epic hosted a release party last week at Pharmacy Bottle + Beverage in Cary, NC where the Larry’s Coffee version was introduced for the first time! James from Epic was the host for the release party and he did a great job sharing stories about Son of a Baptist as well as offering some samples of upcoming summer brews from Epic!  2016-04-27_235310000_53607_iOS Peter and Ryan from Larry’s Coffee were there to answer questions and they also had the Peruvian coffee that was used in the beer available to sample as brewed coffee!  Neat touch!  Peter told me that they selected the Peruvian coffee beans for their chocolate notes and the way it would compliment the malts in the Stout. They were right on, as my review will attest.  Pharmacy was very crowded on Wednesday evening and as I looked around, I saw many of the patrons with a glass of Son of a Baptist in their hand!   Hats off to James, Peter, Ryan, and the Pharmacy team!

The good people at Epic (thanks, Matthew!) graciously sent me a sample of Son of a Baptist made with coffee from Portola Coffee Lab in Southern California.  Portola’s Terra Incognita espresso blend was selected for their version of SoB.  This blend is comprised of Ethiopian Harrar and Colombian Cauca beans.   I find it quite amazing how the flavors of Stout beer change and evolve depending on the coffee bean used…and I assume that’s what the Epic Brewmaster was going for, so mission accomplished!

On to the Epic reviews!!

Epic Brewing Company – Big Bad Baptist

April 30, 2016 – I’ve had this bottle in my beer cellar for about 6 months now. I’m not altogether sure what I was waiting for but with the release of Son of a Baptist, I thought it was high time to break this Bourbon barrel-aged Big Bad boy open and see if all of the positive online reviews are merited.  Epic makes BBB in various “releases” using different dark roasted coffee; I had the privilege of tasting release #61, which was brewed with Caffe Ibis coffee in February, 2015 and packed in October, 2015. This release came in at 12.1%ABV and is bottled in a 22oz. bomber.

2016-04-30_202852000_A7E8D_iOSAfter taking it out of the fridge and letting it sit for an hour to bring it to around 50-55 degrees, I opened it and let it pour. It BBB was a beautiful jet black with a nice foamy head. Once the photo opp was over, I lifted the glass to my nose and was bombarded with some amazing aromas.   Usually there is one scent that dominates and overwhelms; Big Bad Baptist provided me with equal notes of coffee, chocolate, and bourbon! Each aroma was incredibly layered and I could detect each scent, which I must say is a first from all of my tastings.   Either my nose is better at differentiating scents or this is foreshadowing what’s to come.

My first sip confirmed it – this is a Stout that is smooth, balanced, and complex! I could taste the coffee blended with the chocolate, along with the slight booziness of the bourbon. The mouthfeel was medium and the aftertaste was smooth. As I continued my taste journey, I marveled at the attention to detail that is required to get this Stout so balanced and smooth.   This is a Stout that deserves every bit of recognition and praise that it gets!  I enjoyed every single sip of Big Bad Baptist and it delivered that smooth, balanced taste all the way to the bottom of the glass!!  Kudos to the Epic Brewmaster!

I guarantee that Big Bad Baptist will always have a place in my Stout House and that is one of the highest compliments I can pay a Stout!

Stout of this World rating: 4.5 bombers

Epic Brewing Company – Son of a Baptist

May 1, 2016 – Coming off of my Big Bad Baptist experience the day before, I had to reset my expectations for Son of a Baptist.  Son of a Baptist is a relative of BBB in that it is the same base Stout but with two significant differences: Son is not Bourbon barrel-aged and that Son has about 14 variants.  Epic was able to partner with about 14 different coffee roasters across the country and used their recommended beans to create Stouts such that each variation has a different flavor profile.  The outcome shows how different coffee beans can influence the ultimate flavor of the Stout.  Pretty unique and an incredible labor of love!  It must have been quite a job first to source out different coffee roasters then brew different batches highlighting the flavors and notes from the coffee!

I was able to taste the Larry’s Coffee version at the release party last Wednesday.  I found it to be quite good and thought the coffee was very complementary to the Stout and it 2016-05-03_001557000_52A6A_iOSworked well!  I was hoping for a similar experience when I opened a bottle of Son using coffee from Portola Coffee Lab, a Southern California roaster. This version clocked in at 7.9%ABV in its 22oz. bomber.

As with BBB, I took Son out of the fridge and let it sit for an hour before I opened it. The pour was similar to Big Bad Baptist as it was a jet black pour and a nice foamy head that hung in there for quite some time. The aroma was pure coffee – didn’t get any chocolate scent in Son.   The first sip was quite tasty, with some nice coffee notes, not overwhelming with a medium mouthfeel. The aftertaste was smooth and went down easy. Subsequent tastes mirrored the first with the only difference was that as it warmed, the mouthfeel got a bit thicker – which I like – though it never got to the “tongue coating” stage.

I really enjoyed Son of a Baptist – I appreciate the creativity and effort the Epic Brewing team put forth in this “series” of a single Stout.   With the lower ABV, I could easily see myself savoring this on a summer evening.

Current plans call for Epic to release these variations in 12oz. cans later this year – great idea!  One recommendation would be to take a page from the Terrapin playbook and release mixed 4 packs, so we can taste and sample the differences across the various coffees.  I’m happy to support Larry’s Coffee as my local roaster, but tasting the different flavor profiles is a good way to showcase the Son of a Baptist series!

Stout of this World rating: 4.0 bombers


Brewpublik is a new business venture that has entered the Raleigh market within the past few months.  They cut their teeth in Charlotte, then have expanded into Raleigh.  Brewpublik provides a customized craft beer delivery service based on a taste profile you 2016-04-26_230339982_6E14C_iOScreate on their website.  Based on your profile, they then select craft beers that match your profile and deliver it to your doorstep every month!  I was intrigued by the concept so I reached out to them and after understanding their business model, I decided to sign up.  As you might expect, my taste profile is “all Stouts all the time” and the more we talked, I decided to sign up for their concierge plan.  It’s their most personalized plan (with the highest monthly cost) but it seemed like the way to go for me.  The beauty is that it is a month to month subscription, so I can freeze my account during the summer when Stouts are in hibernation.  You can even specify when (day and time) to have your Brewpublik crate delivered!   On the day of my delivery, they texted me with a link that tracked my delivery all the way to my house!  I met my delivery person as they were driving up the street, he dropped off my crate, I signed off on the delivery, and away he went to his next delivery!
Another feature of the Brewpublik service is that you have the ability to preview your crate so you can swap out any bottles you may not like before you get your delivery.   The BrewPublik team were very easy to deal with and very responsive to my many questions upfront. The Stouts I received in my concierge delivery were:

-1 bottle of Founders KBS2016-04-23_224300576_11E31_iOS

-1 bottle of Prairie Artisan Ales Pirate BOMB!

-2 bottles of Wicked Weed Dark Age

-2 bottles of Mikkeller Black Hole

-2 bottles of Anderson Valley Huge Arker

I was certainly pleased with my selection!  Imagine having KBS and Pirate BOMB! delivered to you!  Now mind you, I did purchase their premium monthly service (but did get a generous new customer discount).  I suspect that not all Stout deliveries will have KBS or Pirate BOMB!, but if that is any indication of future deliveries, I’ll be a happy Stoutwhisperer!

Brewpublik is starting to expand beyond Charlotte and Raleigh into San Francisco and Charleston, SC.  I am hopeful that the more they expand, the greater and varied their Stout selection will be!  It would be great to be able to get some of those west coast Stouts to taste and review!

If first impressions are any indication, I think Brewpublik might have something here. They have bent over backwards to insure I was happy with my delivery and I’m looking forward to what they have in store (or in stock) for the future!  If you are interested as well, visit their website and make sure you tell them the Stoutwhisperer sent you!

Aging and Reviewing Stouts

This past week I was given the opportunity to contribute to the BrewStuds blog (wearebrewstuds.com) to discuss the topic of aging and cellaring beers….with a heavy emphasis on Stouts! Mark from Digital Third Coast marketing developed an infographic about Aging and Cellaring beers and I wrote a blog post about aging Stouts that accompanied the Infographic. You can read the entire article here.  I hope to guest blog at times and hopefully have others guest blog here as well!   It was a great opportunity and I was happy to do it!   I’d love to hear about your experiences about aging Stouts with a nod towards those Stouts that seem to age well!   I have a few in the Stout House (aka my beer fridge) that are over a year old and ready to sample!  Since we’re moving into the Stout Drought, I’ll have time to pull some of the older ones out and give them a review! Looking forward to that!!

On to the weekly reviews:

Goose Island Brewing Co. – 2015 Bourbon County Brand Stout (BCBS)

April 16, 2016 – I hadn’t planned on reviewing BCBS this weekend; however, one of my Instagram friends (@barrelagedbarry) who always seems to be drinking the Stouts on my want list, reported that the BCBS that he just had was infected, as it had a metallic sour aroma and flavor. The label on his bottle was dated 04Nov15.  I checked my stock and they are all 11Nov15 so I thought it would be worthwhile to perform a “quality check” on at least one of them.

I took it out of the fridge and let it sit for an hour to warm a bit. I opened it and gave it a 2016-04-16_202147454_9A4E3_iOSpour, nice and black, with a small head that almost immediately disappeared. It had a nice bourbon nose. The first sip was wonderful.  It was as if my tongue was painted with BCBS!  Nice and thick with a nice smooth bourbon layer.  The aftertaste was smooth and full of a bourbon taste.   This is a big boy Bourbon Barrel Aged Stout!  It is a 14.3%ABV Stout that doesn’t really hide it, as it is nice and warming and gets more complex as it warms. The Goose Island brewers, for all the unfortunate quality issues that have bedeviled them in 2015, got this one right!

Stout of this World rating: 4.5 bombers


Southern Tier Brewing – Chokolat Oranj

April 17, 2016 – I’ve had Southern Tier’s Choklat on tap and was impressed both with the amazing chocolate aroma and the good taste. When I saw Choklat Oranj go on sale, I made a beeline to the Stout shelf, picked one up and looked forward to another pleasant tasting experience.

After resting in the kitchen for an hour to warm it, I opened it and gave it a pour. A good 2016-04-17_195940579_420B2_iOSjet black pour with a good solid head that remained. The aroma was all chocolate, with a hint of citrus. So far, so good. The first sip was thin and not what I expected.   Another sip, same thought. Every time I take a drink, my nose gets a great aroma and my mouth gets a thin, nondescript stout where I struggled to find either Chocolate or Orange.  I continued to drink hoping to find a point where the taste matched the nose, but unfortunately, I was never able to find that spot that brought me back to my Choklat experience. Certainly not bad, but I was hoping for a much better tasting experience than I had. The aroma was the winner here, but unfortunately, this review is much about taste, which was a solid average.
Stout of this World bomber: 3.75 bombers

NC Beer Month and the KBS Quest

April has been selected as North Carolina Beer Month and all of the local bottleshops and breweries have special events to highlight local North Carolina beers.  My contribution to NC Beer Month for this week is tasting and reviewing Wicked Weed’s Dark Age and tasting Trophy Brewing’s El Hombre.  Additionally, I was on the prowl for KBS and I’ll share with you the results of my hunt.

This past Friday, I went to Trophy Brewing with Mrs. Stoutwhisperer and my son to give their highly regarded pizza a try.  I also wanted to taste their El Hombre, an Horchata Stout that came highly recommended.  Unfortunately for us,  Trophy has a great following and they were packed at 6pm.  We were really hungry so we weren’t going to wait, but before we left, I wanted to sample El Hombre.  My son (21 year old) and I each got a chalice of this Horchata Stout, but surprisingly (to me at least), it was served as cold as all of their other beers and I really didn’t get a taste of how good El Hombre could be.  I’m not sure why Trophy (or any other brewery for that matter) wouldn’t serve their beers at the best temperature for the style of beer.  Breweries should educate their clientele on how best to serve and drink their various offerings.  A cold stout hides the flavors that the brewmaster works so hard to develop.  I plan on revisiting Trophy soon to try their pizza and will order another El Hombre but will let it warm a bit so I can actually taste the flavors of the Stout that the brewmasters intended!

As I noted in my last post, this past week the elusive KBS from Founders Brewing in Grand Rapids, Michigan made its annual migration into North Carolina.  It surfaced briefly on tap at Bull McCabe’s in Durham on April 1, but the rare 4 pack didn’t make an appearance until a few days later.   All of the traditional hunting grounds (i.e. bottleshops) had different ways to handle the demand. Some created priority lists for their best clients, some used social media to trumpet the arrival, and others are taking the lottery route.  Most were rationing one or two bottles of KBS per person to get it in the hands of more Stout lovers. Rare were those sellers who allowed the 4 pack to be sold!   I was really looking for a 4 pack, as I wanted to add to my KBS vertical, have one now, and put a couple in the beer cellar for special occasions down the road.

Fortunately, the good people at House of Hops (Twitter: @houseofhops1) in Raleigh came to the rescue and are worthy of the Stoutwhisperer’s praise!   They were taking names for their KBS list and my persistence wore them down. I really like the vibe at House of Hops and gallery_14_20141021_1683440087enjoy talking to the folks there.   They are very friendly and helpful. When I picked up my KBS, I had a chance to chat with Gabriela and Jesse about KBS and Stouts in general. Jesse and I first ran into each other sampling the Root Beer Stout at the Big Boss Brewing event a few weeks back, so I know he’s got good taste!  I was thrilled to walk out with a 4 pack and thought my quest was complete.  I highly recommend visiting House of Hops if you are ever in Raleigh….tell them the Stoutwhisperer sent you!

Fast forward to the next morning……there is a Whole Foods near me that has an excellent beer selection. Jason runs their beer shop and he traditionally sends out a Twitter message when new beers come into the store and from there, its first come, first serve. That’s how I was able to get my 2015 KBS last year, but I didn’t want to bank on my luck two years in a row.  Fortunately, the tweet came out early and I was able to scramble over and bag another 4 pack!   Jason a good old school guy and he doesn’t believe in rationing bottles so I was one of the lucky few.

While I was basking in my KBS success, I took a ride over to Taylor’s Wine Shop  at lunchtime.  Taylor’s is located inside a BP Gas Station and is known to have a pretty darn good craft beer selection.   Niki (aka “the Beer Lady”), was kind enough to talk to me and I happened to ask her about her KBS allotment.  Much to my surprise, she was expecting it to come in the next day and was just going to start her list!  She was rationing 2 bottles per person, but I was at the top of the list……and sure enough, I got a text message from Niki the next day that KBS was in and I could pick up my 2 bottles!

I also had the chance to get 2 more bottles from my local Total Wine (thanks Chase!!) but decided that 10 was enough.   Another bottleshop in the area is having a lottery this week for their KBS allocation, but I’ll pass on that as well.   The Stout Karma train doesn’t have many seats and I want to be sure I’m on it (I missed out on Mexican Cake last year)!   Through a little planning and a LOT of luck my KBS hunting season is complete and I bagged the limit.   This should last me through the Stout Drought…..now on to the reviews!

Wicked Weed Brewing – Dark Age

March 9, 2016 – Wicked Weed is an Asheville brewing institution known primarily for their Sours, but every once in a while they go the Stout route. Dark Age is a Bourbon barrel aged imperial stout that is being bottled for the first time. While I must admit I was underwhelmed by their Milk and Cookies Stout and haven’t yet had El Paradiso, I’ve heard good things about Dark Age.   This 12%ABV 12.7oz bottle was released a couple of weeks ago to much fanfare (at least in the Carolinas) and seemed to saturate the Triangle market, as 2016-04-09_214558669_83B9C_iOSeveryone seemed to get a large delivery of this release. Since April is North Carolina Beer month, I decided to do my part and give Dark Age a try…..

This Stout pours a nice black waterfall with a decent tan foamy head. It has a straight on bourbon aroma – not trying to hide anything, that’s for sure!   The first sip is smooth and while there is bourbon throughout the taste, it’s not overwhelming. The mouthfeel is thin to medium and the aftertaste is smooth as well.   A decent down the middle bourbon barrel imperial stout!  This strikes me as an excellent introduction to the world of BBA Stouts……no variants, smooth taste from the sip to the swallow, with a consistent hint of bourbon. Not the best I’ve had, but also far, far from the worst. I’m going to age another bottle of Dark Age for a while to see if the flavor profile changes at all.   All in all, a decent BBA Stout from our friends at Wicked Weed!

Stout of this World rating: 4.0 bombers

Founders Brewing – Kentucky Breakfast Stout (KBS) 2016 vintage

March 10, 2016 – Since my recent KBS trials and tribulations have been documented in recent posts, I felt a need to see if the destination was worth the journey, so I took some time to open a fresh bottle of the 2016 vintage of KBS. I’ve read many of the reviews from others and while many were very complimentary, there were those who felt it needed a bit more aging.   Jason at Whole Foods felt that Founders was one of the few breweries who actually ages their beer to be at its peak aging when sold – rather than rely on the customer to age it a bit more. So going into the review, I wasn’t sure what side of the barrel I would fall on.

I wore my KBS t-shirt to commemorate the event and poured it into the 2016 KBS glass – 2016-04-10_200330304_D09B4_iOSbig kudos to Founders Brewing for the 17oz. size!! This is a perfect size as it allows me to give a good pour and get some foamy head without worrying about spillage!   KBS isn’t the most heady beer, but I was able to get a decent head from the pour! The aroma was an alluring combination of bourbon, chocolate, and a hint of coffee. Would the taste match the aroma?   The first sip answered the question….unequivocally yes!

The smoothness of the 2016 vintage is unsurpassed. Notes of coffee and chocolate infused with a smooth layer of bourbon creates a taste that leaves one wanting another.   The mouthfeel is nice as it coats the tongue and there is absolutely no bite in the aftertaste. As I write this, I realized that I didn’t get this level of complexity when I had it on tap at Bull McCabe’s for the release party……it was quite good there but in a more controlled environment (my house) it’s at another level.   I’ll note once again, that the temperature of the Stout is so critical to the emergence of the flavors.   I had refrigerated my bottle of KBS but took it out a full hour before I opened it to gradually warm to 50 degrees or so. Drinking KBS (or most Stouts) cold will rob you out of enjoying the full range of scents and flavors……so do yourself a favor and give it time to rest and warm….even 30 minutes will work.

I think Jason is right….this doesn’t need any aging. This is an amazing Stout right now. Find it and drink it!

Stout of this World rating: 4.5 bombers


It’s KBS Time!!

As we move ever closer to the Stout Drought, one of the most anticipated releases of the Stout season is upon us.  Kentucky Breakfast Stout  (KBS to most of us) brewed by Founders Brewing, has been available in it’s home turf in Michigan for almost a month now.   Our friends from Founders Brewing gives KBS it’s own week in March with bottle releases and special tappings.  April brings the nationwide release of KBS.  I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the first North 2016-03-24_230611672_85F60_iOSCarolina tapping of 2016 KBS on Friday evening (April 1).  Bull McCabe’s in Durham, NC was given the honor because of their ongoing commitment to the Founders lineup and the fact that they were the volume leader for Founders in NC in 2015.  Mrs. Stoutwhisperer and I took the 30 minute drive to the Bull City to Bull McCabe’s.  It was crowded, but not mobbed.  They were pouring small (4 oz.?) snifters to insure everyone received an opportunity to sample this year’s vintage. I bellied up to the bar, ordered 2 KBS snifters for myself and a lager for Mrs. S (she isn’t a stout fan).   I ran into Jessie R., the Founders representative for North Carolina, who was greeting everyone and handing out Founders swag.  She commented on my KBS t-shirt (pictured above along with my KBS glasses) and we started talking about KBS, the hoopla around the release and how Bull McCabe’s got the honors as the first NC establishment to tap KBS.  She shared that a Charlotte location was tapping a keg on Sunday and that the bottle sales would begin on Tuesday.  Jessie was rightfully proud of all the excitement around the release and I congratulated her on a great event.

I sat back down and began to savor the first snifter.  As you can see in the picture, there 2016-04-01_211323885_0ADC7_iOSwasn’t much head in the pour, which was fine due to the size of the snifters.  I couldn’t get much aroma, but that was probably due to the fact that I was outside at a patio table where it was a bit breezy.  However, the taste was spot on!  A slight bourbon taste, some coffee and chocolate notes, a nice mouthfeel, and a smooth aftertaste told me that Founders had found just the right balance of stout and bourbon aging.  After I finished the first snifter, the second one affirmed my thoughts…..the 2016 KBS vintage is a winner!

Now comes the annual scramble for KBS bottles…..Tuesday apparently will be the first day in North Carolina where we all try and hope our timing aligns with the delivery of KBS.  Most stores will ration bottles to 1 or 2 bottles per person.  Some allow 4-packs to be purchased.  No matter the quantity, I wish everyone the best of luck in their KBS search and that everyone who wants KBS gets at least one bottle!  If you aren’t in the right place at the right time, I expect there will be special KBS release parties throughout April so you will get some additional chances to savor that special stout elixir called KBS!!

Special Stoutwhisperer thanks to the good people at Bull McCabe’s and to Jessie R. and the Founders Brewing team for their hospitality!  Mrs. Stoutwhisperer and I had a great time!

Note: For a really interesting article on how KBS is cellar aged, see this story by Robert Allen of the Detroit Free Press……great reading!!