Lacto!

I try to stick American on this blog when it comes to my micro-brews, but with this being stout week, my final sample was somewhat hard to come by. lacto1.jpgThe good old Milk Stout. Yes, you heard me right, Milk Stout. The milk stout is a form of sweet stout, which Beer Advocate says “includes lactose or milk sugar, and often additions of cane or other fermentable sugars for priming, dubbed a Milk Stout.” What it comes down to is a low-alcohol, creamy stout beer.
While I can’t say today’s beer with a straight face – Farson’s Lacto Stout, I can enjoy it’s smooth and creamy goodness. LACTO!

Appearance: Lacto (yeah, I’m gonna keep saying it) pours black with a dark caramel head. That head hangs out for a little while, then fades away to a nice lacing.
Aroma: This beer has a strange aroma that I’m having a hard time identifying. I’m smelling some roasted malts and maybe some hops. I found that other reviewers had this same problem. While there are undertones of roasted coffee and chocolate, there’s a strange kind of pungent smell. Maybe of sour milk? One reviewer on Rate Beer describes it as a “vegital weirdness”. While I don’t find this smell unattractive, I find that the unidentifiable smell also stumps my tastebuds.
Taste: This is a really mild beer. There’s little flavor here. Some of that same roasted flavor, a bit of bitterness.
While some might find it underwhelming, I don’t mind it that much. I’m not going to pick up a sixer of Lacto to hang out and drink them while I watch a football game. This is a beer to be enjoyed at the end of the evening, maybe after dessert.
Mouthfeel: The thing about a milk stout is how incredibly smooth and creamy it is. This is soft and full and leaves a little bitter aftertaste.

Chocolatey Goodness

Another stout! Today’s stout is Brooklyn Brewery’s Black Chocolate Stout. While many stouts boast a bit of chocolately flavor, some stouts are brewed to specicially to enhance that flavor, making a great beer to accompany your favorite dessert! Now I’m a big dessertchoco.jpg eater. And I’m a big beer drinker. But like two rival siblings, I’ve never been able to get these two favorites of mine to get along. I was curious how my Black Chocolate Stout was going to pair with the chocolate cookies I was having for dessert. But first, let’s talk basics:
Appearance: This beer pours with little to no head, but I get a good bit of lacing on my cup, as you can probably see in the photo. The color is as black as black can be. I can’t see anything through it.
Aroma: It’s all chocolate in this baby. Nice, dark chocolate. A bit of coffee undertones, but mostly, this makes me think of biting into a nice chunk of really good bitter dark chocolate. Wow… I’m making myself hungry…
Taste: Bitter up front. A surprising bit of hoppiness there, which in combination with the chocolate flavor definitely brings that bitter chocolate to mind. Then, the bitterness dissappates and the brings forward a rich, roasty choclate flavor and hints of espresso. Aftertaste is a lingering coffee flavor.
Mouthfeel: Super creamy and smooth mouthfeel. This beer is surprisingly drinkable. While the flavor is intense and powerfull, it’s smooth and not too filling. There’s a bit of astringent aftertaste, as this baby has a whopping 10.1% ABV.
Now for the real test. Does the Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout fight nicely with my chocolate cookie? You’d better believe it! I’m an official convert. This pairing is amazing. The cookie is super sweet and when I wash it down with the beer, the chocolate flavores match rather than clash, and the alcohol just washes everything down.
Way to go Brooklyn Brewery. This is definitely one of the most pleasant beer surprises I’ve ever had 🙂

The Facts:
ABV: 10.1%
Original Gravity: 24.0
Plato:
1096

Winter Warmer

This morning, St. Patrick’s Day, New York woke up to this:winter.jpg

It was definitely time for a winter warmer, so last night I picked the Imperial Stout for my stout of choice. The imperial stout was originally brewed by Barclay’s Brewery in London with express purpose to export to the Tsar in Russia. This is why you’ll often see this beer referred to as the “Russian imperial stout”. Basically, the imperial stout has a higher alcohol content, which was intended to preserve it for the long export from England to Russia (9-10% is standard, compared to your average stout around 5%ish). The high alcohol content doubles as a warmer against cold weather. These beers also tend to have a rich malty taste with chocolate and coffee undertones and hints of fruit. Today’s imperial stout – The Victory Storm King.
As mentioned in a previous post, I really dig Victory Beer. So when I saw that New Beer was carrying my one of storm.jpgmy favorites, I couldn’t wait for the chance to add them to my lineup. The much acclaimed Storm King lived up to it’s task. It both warmed and satisfied my taste buds.
Appearance: Pouring as black as night, this beer initially boasted a fairly sizable head, about 1″, which quickly dissappated to a pleasant lacing on top.
Aroma: Yum! Lots of aroma here. Much different than yesterday’s Goose Island Oatmeal Stout. This stout boasts a surprising hop fragrance of pine and flowers. I even detect a slight fruity scent like apple. The malts smell of dark toasty chocolate and a hint of espresso, I smell a lot of molasses, too. There’s a little bit of alcohol smell, but nothing overpowering.
Taste: Double yum! The hops are bitter up front but quickly roll over to that malty flavor of molasses, chocolate and coffee. There’s an incredible balance to the hops and malts here that make this beer so very drinkable.
Mouthfeel: This is an incredibly smooth beer, somewhere between creamy and oily, but closer to oily. This beer is an examble of the great body and feel that a stout can have. Full-bodied yet drinkable.

The Facts:
ABV: 9.1%

A Classic Breakfast Beer

oatmeal1.jpgBeer for breakfast? Eh, well, it is St. Patrick’s day after all. Well, today’s choice, Goose Island Oatmeal Stout, is a beer I’d have for breakfast any day. Before we delve into this beer, a little about the oatmeal stout –

Oatmeal stout is a beer brewed with a small amount of oats added during the brewing process. Today’s examples don’t use much (usually less than 5%), but many centuries ago, beers were brewed with a lot of oats. This resulted in a pretty bitter stout. So much so that the style died out in the early 20th century. Despite dying out, according to Wikipedia, it was a Charles Finkel who found interest in the style when reading about it in Michael Jackson’s 1977 book The World Guide To Beer. Apparently, Mr. Finkel commissioned Samuel Smith to revive the style. Since then, many breweries have revived the oatmeal stout style.
Today’s Oatmeal Stouts are medium to full body stouts that are incredibly smooth and slighty sweet. This Goose Island Oatmeal Stout is a great example.

Appearance – This beer pours really dark. While I saw many other reviews where tasters saw little to no head, I found that mine poured with a nice big, fluffy one inch head that was a light caramely brown.
Aroma – A lot of fragrance for a stout. I’m catching the heavy smell of sweet oats, grain, or straw. Even a slight roasted peanut kind of smell. A mild scent of coffee and chocolate also lingers. I detect a very faint grassy scent of hops, as well as a barely-there earthy smell, possibly from the yeast.
Flavor: Very slightly bitter up front. I taste that kind of bitter coffee taste up front. More like a sweet espresso taste. But mostly this beer tastes like smooth toasted oats. Almost like when you brown oatmeal in the bottom of the pot. Yum!
Mouthfeel – This is a medium to full body beer that’s nice and smooth. I hesitate to say creamy, because while it was smooth, I didn’t find it overwhelmingly filling. I barely sense the carbonation, but there’s that light astringent finish to it that characterizes many stouts.
Overall, I applaud Goose Island for this great beer. Their oatmeal stout is flavorful, easy to drink, and not too filling or sweet.

The Facts:
ABV: 5%
ABW: 4%
IBUs: 30
SRM: 80

Holy Stout!

stout.jpgI almost missed it! I’ve been idly strolling along, all hopped up reviewing my IPA’s this week. I failed to realize that we are but days from the grand and glorious holiday of St. Patrick’s day! Besides New Year’s Eve, what other holiday is geared specifically to drinking? I declare St. Patrick’s day slightly more geared towards drinking because you can really start drinking at breakfast if you like. New Year’s Eve you have to wait till you’re at a party according to my social rules of thumb.

So while I’ve been anxiously awaiting spring, and the weather is slowly turning, maybe I’m a little early for these springy IPA’s. While it’s been in the high 60’s all week here in NY, I do hear that it’s supposed to turn to snow this weekend. That’s stout drinking weather if I’ve ever seen it! It’s on to stouts next week! If you have recommendations or a type of stout you’d like to see reviewed, comment away!

*image courtesy of wikipedia

An Organic Stout

old-plowshare1.jpgI haven’t had a stout in a few weeks, let alone an organic one. I came across the Old Plowshare Stout at New Beer and thought it looked interesting. It seems that Old Plowshare comes from Northcoast Brewing Company, possibly manufactured for Whole Foods? I had a hard time following the trail, as neither site references this particular beer, but other review sites refer to the two companies. Apparently, this is supposed to be an organic version of Northcoast Brewing Co’s Old No. 38 (these guys really like old stuff, don’t they?)
Anyway, I think this was my first shot at an organic beer. This beer poured smooth with little to no head. It was a real dark reddish-brown. For a stout, it had a great scent. Full of chocolately goodness. On taste, I personally felt it was a little… acidic or bitter at first? I suppose in a way that coffee might be. But after the first few sips, that feeling quickly faded away. In contrast to the chocolately smell, the taste was more coffee-like and one taster on ratebeer gave it a “raisin-y” label, which I thought was a good call. Overall, this was a pretty good stout. Though I usually like a stout with a little more flavor, I thought Old Plowshare was pretty good and easy to drink – not overly filling or anything. Overall, I give this beer about a 16/20.

The Facts:
ABV: 5.7
IBUs: mid 40’s
values:
$.12/oz.
.46 oz/$
(a lot of these facts I snaked from Charlie the Beer guy’s Organic Episode on Speaking of Beer. Please check out his podcast. I think it’s the best beer podcast out there)

My Favorite Beers

Is it biased to list my very favorite beers? Is it biased that most of them are in my home town? Well, call it coincidence, but they are. My very favorite beer is brewed in my home town of Downingtown, PA at Victory Brewing Company. This tiny little brewery gives us a slate of some of the most AMAZING beers. The super hoppy Hop Devil is my very favorite and the dark, but the not too heavy Storm King Imperial Stout comes in second. All of the Victory beers are great, and if you can get them in your area, I really encourage you to check out all of the Victory brews!