2016 – a Stoutstanding year!

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The end of every calendar year brings a certain amount of rear view mirror reflection and windshield resolutions.  This year is no different.  I tend to look back, take stock of successes, failures, and learnings, and commit to improvement during the coming year.  As I look back at my stout life in 2016, this was the year where I started to walk the talk. This blog, my social media presence, trades, first release events – really just making an overall commitment to being the Stoutwhisperer!  It also enabled me to meet many great people who share the same passion for craftbeer and stouts that I have…..and it has allowed me to taste and review more than my fair share of amazing Stouts!

As I look back on the Stouts I’ve had the privilege to enjoy and taste in 2016, it’s fairly easy to separate those that have really made an impression on me……and those are the Stouts I’d like to recognize on this blogpost.  Before we go any further, I clearly realize that I’ve barely scratched the stout surface as there are so many I didn’t taste this year and there are some that are in my cellar that I haven’t opened…..and that’s a function of my tasting schedule!  I’ll get to them in due time – and the beauty of being the Stoutwhisperer is that aging Stouts isn’t a bad thing!   Now if I were the IPAwhisperer, I’d be in trouble!!

On to the awards:

Best Stout Pour:

Oskar Blues TENFIDY, Raleigh Brewing BA The Miller’s Toll, Southern Tier Choklat Oranj, Alesmith Speedway Stout, Westbrook Siberian Black Magic Panther and any Stout on Nitro!

I happen to like a bit of a foamy head on my Stouts, so when I pour my Stouts, I try and aim for around 1/2 to 3/4 inch of head on the pour.   I think that helps the various aromas contained in the Stout to be released and savored (see Best Aroma award above).  Some Stouts just pour better than others and when they pour well and create a nice foamy head, it’s a beautiful thing…and it photographs well!  This award recognizes those Stouts that had an especially nice pour and retained a nice foamy head.  I also included all Stouts on Nitro because I love watching all of the tiny nitrogen bubbles rise to the top!!

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Best Aroma:  

Prairie Paradise (draft),  Buxton/Omnipollo Yellow Belly, Big Boss Brewing Root Beer Stout2016-12-31_20-25-32_000

After the Pour, the next thing I go for is the aroma.  What does it smell like?  What flavor notes can I pick up?  These three really stand out from all the others I’ve had this year.  Amazing Vanilla on the Paradise, Butterfinger (Peanut and Biscuit) on the Yellow Belly, and true Root Beer on the Root Beer Stout…I could have smelled these and been very happy!  Glad I was able to enjoy the liquid as well…and had a great ice cream float with the Big Boss Root Beer Stout!

Surprise Stouts:

Stillwater On Fleek, Birdsong Brewing MexiCali Stout, Twin Leaf Brewery MDXXI, Blue Mountain Dark Hollow, Alchemist Beelzebub, Lagunitas High West-ified Stout

Each of these were pleasant surprises in their own way…either through my not knowing the brewery, or having low expectations.  In each case, these Stouts made me seek out more and that’s a good thing.  Give them a try!

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Best Beercation location: Asheville, NC

Asheville is an wonderful place to visit, even without the incredible number of craft beer breweries!  Located in the mountains of western North Carolina, it’s a beautiful place to wander around and get lost in their various neighborhoods.  Add their vibrant craft beer scene and it becomes a must visit for any craft beer lover.  Read my blogpost from a couple of months ago that provides a nice overview of the long weekend my two sons and I had in Asheville – Oskar Blues, New Belgium, Sierra Nevada, Burial, Wicked Weed and many others too numerous to mention.  The food is amazing as well – make sure and stop by Vortex Doughnuts in the morning and Buxton Hall BBQ in the evening – they are both in the South Slope area of Asheville!

Most Stoutstanding Breweries:  

In my opinion, these two Breweries seemed to separate themselves from the pack for their creativity and innovation and should be recognized!

Prairie Artisan Ales

Prairie took their Bomb! and Noir lineups to another level in 2016….wonderful flavors and spices  – Vanilla, Coffee, Pirate, Prairie, and Christmas.  Add an innovative barrel aging program – Apple Brandy Barrel, Sherry Barrel, Oak Barrel, Bourbon Barrel, Rum Barrel….and the combination of flavors and barrels make for an impressive and highly in demand lineup!  Of special note was the one brewery only draft release that I was fortunate to get a 16oz. growler of – Cinnamon Pecan Bomb!  That was one of the highlights of the year for me….incredible flavor palate which I was very fortunate to taste!  Special thanks to Michael of Tulsa for the extra effort in getting and shipping that growler to me!!  Lastly, I hear that Paradise (Vanilla) is coming off the line soon and will be available in bottles!  Can’t wait for that one!

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Epic Brewing

Epic Brewing took their Big Bad Baptist program and created an entire family!  They started with Son of a Baptist by engaging local coffee roasters all across the country to create 12 separate versions of Son of a Baptist, a non barrel aged coffee Stout.  More recently, they aged their coffee beans in whiskey barrels and added it to BBB, creating Double Barrel Big Bad Baptist.  Next, they went south of the border and brewed Big Bad Baptista, a relative of BBB but using Mexican coffee, cinnamon, and vanilla.  Finally, they just released Son of a Baptist in 12oz cans….again using different local coffee roasters to create regional variants of SoB!  The Epic team was indeed busy this year and their creativity and innovation has paid off!

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2016 Stout of this World All-Stout Team

As I look back at my various tastings over 2016, these are the ones that really made me take notice or made me want more.  They challenged all of my senses and expectations and happily and easily surpassed them…..

Prairie Artisan Ales Pirate Bomb!2016-03-18_210739939_544F9_iOS

2016-12-02_17-21-18_857Epic Brewing Big Bad Baptist

Epic Brewing Big Bad Baptista2016-12-03_15-39-47_927

2016-11-13_15-36-52_718Bell’s Brewery Black Note Stout

Prairie Artisan Ales Cinnamon Pecan Bomb!2016-10-07_17-04-46_338

2016-03-26_202511511_CBE20_iOSRaleigh Brewing Double BA The Miller’s Toll

Southern Pines Drunken Vigils2016-10-23_15-41-41_515

2016-07-16_192807305_60953_iOSGoose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout

Dark Horse Plead the 5th2016-01-09_205936305_E6A42_iOS

2016-11-20_15-06-32_390Westbrook Siberian Black Magic Panther

Prairie Artisan Ales Pirate Paradise2016-10-22_15-45-47_525

2016-11-12_15-44-03_506-2016-11-13t00_44_53-408Oskar Blues Java Barrel Aged TENFIDY

 

That puts a wrap on 2016!

Love to get your comments on any of these!  That’s the beauty of Stouts – everyone’s taste is different!  Help me select my Stout list for 2017 – share your favorite Stouts with us.  Looking to expand my horizons and need your input!

I’m looking forward to a Stoutstanding year and I’ll be sure to bring you along for the journey.   Follow me on Instagram and Twitter (both @Stoutwhisperer) and keep reading my blogposts!!

Happy New Year and with apologies to the Star Wars fans out there….

May the Stout be with you!

The Asheville Stoutcation!

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As I wrote about in an earlier post, the 2 sons of the Stoutwhisperer and I traveled to Asheville for a 21st birthday weekend beercation (albeit a year late!).  We even had the blessing of Mrs. Stoutwhisperer!   One son rode with me and the other met us in Asheville as he was coming from Greenville, SC.  We met at our hotel around 4pm on Friday and immediately called for Uber to take us to Oskar Blues.  We all agreed that we were going to 2016-11-04_20-24-11_000Uber all weekend; no reason to take any chances.  We took the 25 minute ride to Brevard, NC which is the east coast home of Oskar Blues Brewery.  It’s in an industrial area off the beaten path so I’m glad we were with someone who knew where it was!   We were very fortunate in our planning because it just happened to coincide with the release party for BA TENFIDY and Java BA TENFIDY!  When we got to OB, it was already buzzing and most everyone was walking around with a glass of TENFIDY, BA TENFIDY or Java BA 2016-11-04_17-25-02_553TENFIDY.  Those who didn’t have a glass were walking around carrying their take home cases of BA and Java BA.  Apparently  the no limits on take home quantities caused issues, although I really didn’t see anyone with more than 2, maybe 3 cases (36 cans).  I 2016-11-04_18-24-13_003bought 2 cases (3 sixers of Java BA and 1 sixer of BA).  We enjoyed the cool evening meeting new people, enjoying the TENFIDY and having dinner at the OB CHUBwagon.   I had a smoked pork sandwich with 2016-11-04_18-09-55_677barbecue sauce made with TENFIDY and a bread bowl of French Onion soup also made with TENFIDY!  It was a TENFIDY evening!

Once we decided to head back to the hotel, we found out that Uber will take us to Brevard, but there weren’t any local Uberer’s that would take us back to Asheville!   Apparently that’s a known fact that our Uber driver neglected to tell us.  We had to call a local Brevard taxi service who was more than willing to take us back to Asheville for over 4X the amount we paid to get to Brevard!  We didn’t have much of a choice so we took it and the cab driver stopped at an ATM along the way because it was cash only!  He was a real character….and I’ll bet he’s laughing all the way to the bank on people like us!    We made it back to the hotel safely and turned in for the evening knowing we had a full Saturday of fun ahead of us!

Saturday started early with an Uber ride to the South Slope district of Asheville, home to the Wicked Weed Funkatorium, Burial Beer, Green Man, Twin Leaf, and Buxton Hall BBQ and our first stop of the day, Vortex Doughnuts.  I read about Vortex as I was planning for 2016-11-05_08-49-55_314the trip and knew we had to pay a visit.  Homemade doughnuts with some creative flavors was right up our alley.  We each had a couple of doughnuts and a beverage…..very tasty and a great way to start a cool Saturday!

We had a few hours to kill before the breweries opened (11am), so we decided to walk to the River Arts district, home of some amazing artists, and a couple of breweries, Wedge and New Belgium.   The artist studios were just opening up and so we stepped in and started to look around.  We came upon one artist, Stephen Lange, who was more than happy to spend some time with us and talk about his craft.  I really thought that the time we spent with him was the surprise of the weekend!  He spoke to us about his technique, his business, and his client base.  It was really neat to hear the passion in his voice about his work.  Take a look at his website!

After the cultural portion of our weekend ended, we wandered over to New Belgium Brewery, 2016-11-05_10-50-02_912hung out by the river, and waited for them to open up.  Right at the stroke of 11, they swung their doors open and a group of about 20 of us walked in.  Each of us selected a flight of 4 tasters to sample the various New Belgium offerings.  New Belgium really doesn’t have a Stout program, so I wasn’t expecting anything to floor me.  I was wrong.  2016-11-05_11-15-16_078My 4 tasters were: Ben & Jerry Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ale, 1554 Black Lager, Anne Francoise Spiced Dark Ale, and a Cherry Felix Sour.   The Ben & Jerry Ale really did smell like Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough but didn’t really taste anything special, the 1554 and Anne-Francoise didn’t do much for me, and the Felix Sour…..well let’s just say that Sours are an acquired taste that I won’t be acquiring anytime soon!   Wow!  Just as others probably can’t handle Stouts, I’ll never be able to drink a Sour.  That’s the beauty of craft beer – a taste and style for everyone!    If anything, our time at New Belgium reinforced my love for Stouts!   The people at New Belgium couldn’t have been more nice and their tasting room and patio overlooking the river is a beautiful place to sit, drink, and talk.  The boys had their flights and they enjoyed sampling the different styles and tastes that New Belgium has to offer.  I plan on visiting New Belgium again, but more for the location and the people!

After New Belgium we headed back to the South Slope where we spent the rest of the day.  We went to Buxton Hall BBQ for lunch.  Buxton Hall has been recognized by Bon Appetit 2016-11-05_12-42-33_5572016-11-05_12-59-28_769magazine in their September 2016 issue as one of the top new restaurants of 2016 in the USA!  Since it is located right in the middle of the South Slope area that made our lunch decision an easy one!  All the tables were taken, so we took our seats at the bar and ordered up!  A couple of us ordered smoked pork and the birthday son ordered their other specialty, a fried chicken sandwich.  We all really enjoyed our meals and will certainly return again!  But a 1:30 brewery tour at Burial beckoned, so off we went to Burial Beer.

Burial was right around the corner from Buxton Hall and their patio was crowded with locals.  We entered the combined taproom/brewery and were pointed to a long table where the tour would start.  At 1:30, Tim our guide started the tour and it turned out 2016-11-05_14-42-47_019that we were the only ones there!  So we had a personal tour of Burial!  Now granted, it’s a rather small brewery, but Tim did a great job giving us the history of Burial, walking us around the facility, talking about the future plans of Burial, answering our many questions, and allowing us to sample the offerings that Burial had on tap that day!  We all really enjoyed the visit to Burial and we’ll definitely keep an eye out for their releases.  I was already a fan of Burial through their limited Skillet Donut Stout release but the boys are now fans as well!

After Burial, we walked around the area, stopping by Green Man and Hi-Wire.  Unfortunately, one place I wanted to go to, Twin Leaf, was closed for a private event.  So we continued across the street to Wicked Weed’s Funkatorium, their hallowed location 2016-11-05_15-10-02_848for their Barrel-Aging programs.  Not surprisingly, I stayed away from their Sours, but I grabbed a sample of their Dark Arts Espresso stout.   It was much, much sweeter than I expected!  Definitely a sipping desert drink!  I also bought a couple of bottles of Dark Arts to go.   The boys wanted  to visit the “original” Wicked Weed, so we walked the half 2016-11-05_15-30-42_894mile or so to the taproom.  It was really crowded but we were able to get through the line quickly.  I got a glass of Dark Ages and was able to wash away the last remnants of my earlier Sour and quench my stout thirst and we watched college football on the multiple screens.  After that, we Ubered back to our hotel to freshen up, drop off our purchases from the day, and then took the hotel shuttle to Sierra Nevada for the evening.

Sierra Nevada is the Taj Majal of breweries in the Asheville area.  It is a huge facility near the Asheville airport and similar to New Belgium, it is their east coast brewing location.   They have a full brewing facility, a large restaurant, a 2016-11-05_17-15-51_398separate taproom, a huge ‘backyard’ with a large firepit and chairs all around, a few large conference facilities…oh, and a very large gift shop.  In short, an entertainment complex for the craft beer aficionado!

I attempted to register online for a Sierra Nevada brewery tour a couple of weeks prior to our trip but they were sold out far in advance.  Word of advice, if you are planning a visit to SN and want to tour their facility, check their online scheduler first.

Once we entered, we walked around in amazement.  The 2016-11-05_19-13-23_424copper tanks, the fire pit, everything just overwhelmed us in comparison to what we saw earlier in the day in the South Slope.  There was a Master Brewer’s conference being held there, so it was perhaps more crowded than normal.  I enjoyed (perhaps too much) a 2016-11-05_17-31-13_305-2016-11-06t23_46_59-236couple of glasses of Sierra Nevada’s signature Stout, Narwhal, and then we grabbed a great dinner there.  We then spent some time around the fire pit watching the flames flicker in the dark, and then we called the shuttle to return us to our 2016-11-05_19-40-57_110hotel.  A full day of the Asheville craft beer scene in our heads and a satisfying combination of great beer and great food in our bellies!

The next morning was an early wake up call as an English Premier League soccer match between Arsenal and Tottenham was on.  For the uninformed, Arsenal and Tottenham are fierce London rivals as their stadiums are very close to each other.  No matter their records, it’s always a contentious soccer match.  We were hoping to watch it at a local establishment or hook up with the local Arsenal fan club (the Asheville Gooners), but we weren’t able to find anywhere that would open for a 7am kickoff.  So we grabbed breakfast at the hotel and watched the game in our room.

Once the game finished, we checked out and headed back to Raleigh and Greenville to enjoy our Sunday afternoon and get ready for the week ahead.  Many thanks to our Uber drivers, the Clarion Inn-Asheville Airport, and our many acquaintances and new friends at the breweries and eateries we visited.  I know we had a great time in Asheville and are planning a return visit sooner than later.  If anyone is interested in learning more about our visit or would like some additional recommendations….or if you have any recommendations about our next visit,  drop me a comment and I’ll be sure to reach out to you.

Until next time……

International Stout Day!

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Today is International Stout Day. Now why it’s November 3, I can’t tell you but I can tell you that the Stout season is upon us. If you look at the various social media accounts related to craftbeer, it’s clear the tide has turned from the summer IPA season (also referred to as the “Stout Drought”) to the cooler seasonal Stout releases. Now for me, everyday is Stout Day, but I do appreciate the focus that having a day to celebrate Stouts can bring to the greater craftbeer population. Most of the local bottleshops and breweries are having some type of event to celebrate the day, from Tap Takeovers to special tappings to special releases. The only downside of the day is that it’s on a Thursday…..it’s tough to fully and appropriately celebrate International Stout Day when there is a work day right in front of you! (Note to self – take Friday off next year!). 

Take a moment today and celebrate the Stout, either by enjoying one today or delaying your enjoyment by 24 hours as you head into the weekend! I’ll be celebrating it all weekend, as I am headed to Asheville with my 2 sons to visit the best that Asheville’s brewing community has to offer……starting with the BA TENFIDY release event at Oskar Blues on Friday evening! It should be a great weekend! Watch this space for some pictures and a full write up of our journey in the coming days!!

In the meantime, Happy International Stout Day!

Planning a Stoutcation to Asheville, NC!

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My youngest son turned 21 last year and he wanted to go to Asheville for a birthday present with his older brother and me.  Unfortunately, our schedules didn’t align and it never happened.  Well, he recently celebrated his 22nd birthday and we have been able to find time on our calendars during the weekend of November 4-6 to celebrate his birthday, where we will 2016-03-20_193601943_CB164_iOShead to Asheville and enjoy the sights, sounds, and tastes of the Asheville brewery scene.

Our tentative schedule will take us to Oskar Blues in Brevard, Sierra Nevada in Mills River, and Burial, Twin Leaf, Wicked Weed, and Hi-Wire in the Asheville South Slope district.  I hope to show the boys that craft beer is more about quality than quantity and to teach them that the breweries put their heart and soul into brewing a beverage that is to be savored and enjoyed rather than chugged.  I am especially excited to visit Oskar Blues,
where we will be attending their BA Ten Fidy release party!  I will certainly be picking up some stovepipe cans to bring back home!!2016-09-11_193500051_76a0c_ios

It will be a fun weekend.  I enjoy the company of my two boys and getting together for a weekend in Asheville should be a good time.  Asheville is a laid back place and it’s a great place to people watch.  I hope to park the car and Uber to all of our locations so we won’t need to worry about driving.  I’d rather spend some money to get us around the area than a lot of money dealing with a court case!

I hope to speak to as many of the brewmasters as I can about their Stout offerings and will share their thoughts in a future blog.  I’m looking forward to the weekend and I’d like any and all recommendations or insights you would be willing to share about Asheville and their craft beer community.  What did you do in Asheville that we should do?

 

Back from the summer Stout Drought!

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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!

St. Patrick’s Day and the coming Stout Drought!

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Another St. Patrick’s Day has come and gone.  If you could get past the wall to wall Guinness advertisements from “How to pour the perfect pint” to #GuinnessTache to their own @Untappd badge and wrapping up with their #stoutmoji campaign (which I happen to support by the way!) – I think that just about every craft brewery tapped their own version of a dry Irish Stout.  Not that it’s necessarily a bad thing, but to me St. Patrick’s Day is always bittersweet.  In my mind, March 17 signals the end of Stout season.  Yes, I know that the nationwide release of Founders KBS is in early April, but for the most part, we’re moving into the Spring/Summer rotation of IPAs, DIPAs, and Lagers.

If you are a Stout guy like me, you’ve been replenishing your beer fridge for the stout drought of Spring and Summer and buying those stouts you want to enjoy after a hard day at the office or on holiday at the beach (love those canned stouts!).    I know my beer fridge is bursting at the seams so I think I’m ready for the off-season, but I’m also aging a number of bottles for enjoyment in a year or so.

One downside that I experienced on March 17- I had a bottle of Guinness that I opened up to enjoy before the traditional Irish meal of Corned Beef and Cabbage (prepared by Mrs. Stoutwhisperer!).  I knew something was amiss when it didn’t smell right and there was no head to the pour.  A few sips and I knew it wasn’t right, so I participated in the rare but well-known tactic of the “Drain Pour”.  Too bad, but life is too short and my inventory is too large to suffer through a bad beer.   Not sure what happened, but don’t worry Guinness, I’ll be back!

My replacement choice was somewhat odd – Hitachino Nest Espresso Stout!   See below for my review of that beer and my others from the weekend!   All in all, it was a very enjoyable Stout weekend!  Hope you enjoyed St. Patrick’s Day and are thinking ahead on how you will make it through the impending Stout Drought!

Hitachino Nest – Espresso Stout

I’ve heard about this Japanese brewery for a awhile and when I saw their lineup of beers at a local bottleshop, I knew I had to give one a try.  Espresso Stout called my name and so I bit.  It was a stubby bottle containing 11.2 oz (?) of a 7%ABV jet black beer.  It was a nice pour with a nice creamy head.  As you can see, since the bottle is only 11.2 ounces, it doesn’t quite 2016-03-17_200508903_7CA2C_iOSreach the top of the glass.   The aroma was coffee.   The first sip was smooth and was all about the coffee.  The mouthfeel was thin to average which was expected based on the pour.  Subsequent sips repeated the first one – basically this is a stout that give you a shot of espresso with each taste.  It’s a no nonsense, straight on coffee stout.  Personally, I like coffee stouts but I also believe that you can have too much of a good thing and that’s why I came to appreciate the 11.2 oz. bottle.  I finished the bottle right before I think I would have gone into coffee taste overload.  If coffee stouts are your go to beer, then I highly recommend Espresso Stout.   I probably would buy it if I saw it again, but it’s not one I would seek out.

Stout of this World rating: 3.75 bombers

Prairie Artisan Ales – Pirate BOMB!

From previous ratings of PAA BOMB! and it’s variants, you know I’m a fan.  When I read that Pirate BOMB! was on the release schedule, I was hooked.  BOMB! in Rum Barrels?  Really?  So when it started appearing locally in bottleshops, I was on social media alert and 2016-03-18_210739939_544F9_iOSfortunately, luck was on my side when I saw a posting from my friends at House of Hops in Raleigh, NC (@HouseofHops1) and just happened to be in the area.  I was able to pick up a few bottles and it moved to the top of my review list.

It poured like all BOMB!s do…jet black with little head.  There was a nice aroma….I could smell the rum as well as the BOMB! spices.  The first sip just wrapped around my tongue and the rum barrel aging added some kick to the BOMB! but not as much as the Bourbon barrel aged BOMB! The taste was just about perfect……this clocks in at 14% ABV, so it’s a warm one, but it’s one of the best BOMB!s I’ve had!  I’m glad I bought more than one, because I know I’ll want to confirm how good this was a couple more times!!  To my friends at Prairie Artisan Ales, keep doing what you are doing!

Stout of this World rating: 4.5 bombers

Blue Mountain Barrel House – Dark Hollow

I’ve had Dark Hollow in my beer fridge for quite some time, and when I was rearranging some bottles, I noticed the cork said “Best by July 2016”.   That meant try it now!  I liked the unique bottle shape and the cork/cage as the gatekeeper to the liquid….now that I popped the cork, how did it taste?2016-03-19_201458154_EBEA9_iOS

The pour was nice and black, with a very thin line of foam.  I could detect a bourbon in the aroma, but it was pleasant and not overpowering.  The first sip was a nice smooth one – I knew there was some bourbon barrel aging going on, but it was complimentary and really added to the depth of the stout.  Many bourbon barrel aged stouts are bourbon dominant and smooth out over time – perhaps this was what happened here, but it worked!  The mouthfeel was average to thick and the aftertaste was smooth.  As Dark Hollow warmed, the taste became a bit more complex; I really enjoyed this beer to the very last sip!  It clocks in at 10%ABV, but there was a depth and subtlety to this Stout which I didn’t expect!

When I review Stouts, I like to find and sample beers and breweries that aren’t yet “on the radar”.  Dark Hollow and Blue Mountain Barrel House are a perfect example of those wonderful surprises you can find in your Stout journey!  Go find a bottle and pop the cork – I think you’ll like what you taste!!

Stout of this World rating: 4.0 bombers

Oskar Blues Brewing – TENFIDY

While I’ve had the pleasure of drinking TENFIDY before, I’ve never put it through it’s paces in a review.  Now it’s time.  Oskar Blues is a brewing concern that has it’s origins in Colorado, expanded to western North Carolina, and is now expanding yet again to Austin, Texas.  They are one of the pioneers in canning craft beer; to be honest, I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen anything bottled from Oskar Blues.  TENFIDY is their stout offering, clocking in at….I’ll bet you can’t guess….yes, it’s 10.5% ABV.  It is a straight forward Imperial Stout; they make a Bourbon Barrel aged TENFIDY, but the BA variant is one of those rare ones that are usually sold 2016-03-20_193556363_E1A33_iOSonly at the brewery.

Regular TENFIDY is a beautiful sight; it’s an inky jet black pour with a nice tan foamy head that sticks around for awhile.  The aroma is very malty….you know it’s a stout, that’s for sure and after all of the barrel aged beers I’ve tasted lately, a straight malty stout aroma was more than welcome!  The first sip of TENFIDY was nice and smooth.  It has a thicker than average mouthfeel and the aftertaste is pure stout.  As it warmed, it developed more depth and became even smoother than the first few sips.  I began to sense some chocolate and perhaps some toffee notes.    This is an excellent example of an Imperial Stout!  I recommend letting it warm to 50-55 degrees to allow all of the flavor palette to develop and for maximum enjoyment.

TENFIDY is a seasonal release,  so as we start moving into the Stout Drought, it would be worthwhile to go get a 4 pack (or two!) so you can treat yourself during the summer.   Get some now before they sell out for the season!

Stout of this World rating: 4.25 bombers

 

 

 

The Busy Season

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October 19, 2015

Today’s post will be rather brief.  This is becoming the busy season for Stout releases.  We’ve just seen the annual release of Founder’s Breakfast Stout and many of the local breweries are hopping on the Stout release train – Lonerider with “Pistols at Dawn”, Fullsteam with IGOR, Son of IGOR, and Señor IGOR, and Burial with their tasty Skillet Donut Stout.  I’m also seeing some great new releases in the coming days/weeks – Oskar Blues will be releasing a BA version of TENFIDY in 16oz. cans.  The BA TENFIDY looks to be a very limited release, mostly out of their Colorado brewing outpost.  All indications are that the NC brewery will not see any…..but things can always change.  OB will also be releasing “Death by Coconut” porter in November; thankfully, this will see a much wider distribution!  Wicked Weed will be having their Dark Arts bottle release this coming weekend in Asheville, NC.  Those fortunate enough to have bought tickets will get a combo of Dark Arts plus Dark Arts w/Espresso!

If you want to share a release of a favorite Stout, drop me a note from the Comments page and I’ll make sure I include it in my next post!  Thanks!