Hopfenstark Captain Swing

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Are there Canadian breweries outside of Quebec? Because every time I get my hands on some fine, craft brewed Canadian beer, it winds up being from some small French Canadian brewery. Not that I'm complaining. I've pretty much loved everything I've ever had from the likes of Unibroue and Dieu Du Ciel, though I admit that I must delve a bit deeper into their respective catalogs. So when these Hopfenstark beers started showing up locally, I figured I'd give them a shot.

Historically, Captain Swing was apparently a fictional nom de plume signed to threatening letters during 1830s riots when laborers were losing their jobs to industrial threshing machines. Captain Swing was a sorta mythical figurehead to the movement. Why this would matter to French Canadians is anyone's guess, but I'll admit, it's a pretty cool name. Does the beer live up to this reputation?

Hopfenstark Captain Swing

Hopfenstark Captain Swing - Pours a clear, deep copper color with a couple fingers of tan head. Smells of caramel with a slight floral, piney hop character. Taste features lots of that caramel malt flavor, along with just a bit of piney hops, leading to a nicely balanced bitterness towards the finish. No real fruitiness apparent at all, which is a little surprising. Mouthfeel is rich and creamy, with tight carbonation giving way to a very slight slickness in the finish. Overall, this is very nice, if a little straightforward... It's labeled as an American Barleywine, but this feels more like an Imperial Red than a barleywine. Regardless, it was solid, and I enjoyed drinking it, so call it whatever you want. I'll give it a B+ and leave it at that.

Beer Nerd Details: 9% ABV on tap. Drank out of a tulip glass on 10/7/12.

A favorable first experience with Hopfenstark, a brewery that I'll probably seek out again at some point. Though, in general, I'd like to try out some more crafty Canadian beers.

Stillwater Brunello Barrel Aged Debauched

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When barrel-aged Stillwater brews started showing up around here, I was a little slow to catch on and thus missed out on some of this guy's prized brews. Fortunately, I've been in the process of rectifying that, starting with this beer, a saison brewed with whole juniper bushes and a touch of smoked malt, fermented with Brettanomyces, and aged in Brunello (Italian red wine) barrels.

Now, in general, I tend to see red wine barrels used to age darker beers. Think Supplication, Consecration, Black Hole (in my cellar, will be cracking open this fall), or the recently announced Red Thunder. Brown ales, stouts, porters. And while I'm not a wine expert, this pairing makes a certain sort of sense. Red wine goes with dark beer, white wine goes with lighter colored beers. Maybe I'm just tragically ignorant in my assumptions here, but hey, I'm a big tent kinda guy, so let's get this debauchery started:

Stillwater Brunello Barrel Aged Debauched

Stillwater Brunello Barrel Aged Debauched - Pours a clear yellowish color, maybe some light orange tints too, and a finger of white head. Smells funky, with a bit of sour twang, some vinous character, and maybe some yeasty spice. Taste is sweet, lots of tangy vinous notes, some funky Brett and spicy yeast coming out... Not really sour, but plenty of acidity and grape-like tartness... Mouthfeel is light and crisp, with a burst of carbonation that fades quickly into a more wine-like finish. I'm not entirely sure how much I love that finish, actually, though it's certainly an uncommon mouthfeel. Interesting beer, really glad I tried it, but it's not something that really blew me away. I'll call it like I see it and give it a B, but it was interesting enough that I'd like to try it again sometime.

Beer Nerd Details: 6.7% ABV on tap. Drank out of a tulip glass on 10/7/12.

Despite not being blown away by this, I'm still looking forward to exploring more of the Stillwater catalog (of which I've only really scratched the surface), including a bottle of bourbon-barrel aged Folklore that I was able to snag recently. Quite excited about that one, actually, so expect a review in a few weeks or so.

Octobeerfest

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Tonight was beer club, a meeting of beer minded individuals from my work who get together once a month to share good beer, a good meal, and good company! We typically congregate at a local BYOB, and this time we hit up America's Pie, probably the best pizza joint in West Chester. Lots of food and beer and mirth was had by all. Things started small but grew as the night progressed, so this picture doesn't quite capture all the beers that arrived later:

beerclub1012.jpg
(Click for bigger image)

For the sake of posterity, some thoughts on each beer are below. As per usual, these beers were not consumed under ideal conditions, but hey, these were really fun conditions, which, come to think of it, are ideal enough for me. But you may want to take these notes with a giant rock of salt. Anywho, here's the impressions I'm left with (in the order of drinking, not necessarily from the picture above):

  • Lakefront Pumpkin Lager - A strangely muted flavor profile that features all the typical pumpkin pie flavors nonetheless, this was actually a decent way to start off beer club. Very aromatic, light, spicy, straightforward beer. Not going to light the world on fire, but a worthy brew. B
  • Duvel - This is generally considered to be a classic beer, but I have to admit, I've always come away somewhat underwhelmed by Duvel. I feel like this bottle was much better than any of my previous tastings. Sweet, spicy Belgian yeast character in the nose and taste. Last time I had this, I was a little turned off by what I perceived to be tart, lemony notes, but that didn't appear to be in tonight's bottle at all. Strange. I still wouldn't call this one of my favorites or anything, but I could bump it up to a B
  • Original Sin Hard Cider and Dana's Homemade Applewine - I tend to call this event "beer club", but lots of other alcoholic beverages make appearances. This usually amounts to wine, but some folks who don't like beer will go for some cider too (especially this time of year, I guess). Me, I don't really care for that sort of thing. I tried a couple offerings and thought, yep, that's got apple flavor, and left it at that.
  • Cigar City Guava Grove - One of my contributions for the night, this is a big, delicious ball of spicy, fruity saison goodness. Great orangey color, spicy Belgian yeast character in the nose and taste, with a level of fruitiness, presumably coming from the guava. Generally considered to be the best beer of the night, I jokingly mentioned that I wished I kept it all for myself. But I kid. Anywho, exceptional beer. I really must figure out how to get my hands on some more Cigar City stuff. A-
  • War Horse India Pale Ale - Probably suffered a little in comparison to the Guava Grove, but yeah, it's an IPA, focusing on the earthy, floral notes, with a strong malt backbone and a fair bitterness in the finish. I found it to be somewhat unremarkable, but it was generally enjoyed by the group (we are easily amused). B-
  • DuClaw Mad Bishop - Ah, it was about time someone broke out the other major seasonal style, the Oktoberfest. Not one of my favorite styles, but as these things go, I found myself enjoying this one quite a bit. It seemed a little sweeter than your typical, authentic examples of the style, but that's not a horrible thing in my book. Very nice. B
  • Lindemans Framboise - Another offering that was popular with the cider/wine crowd, I found it a little on the cough syrupy side of things. Nice raspberry flavors and it's pretty thick and sweet for such a tiny ABV beer, but I don't know, maybe I'm spoiled by better lambics at this point. B-
  • Great Lakes Nosferatu - This is one of them Imperial Red Ale beers that goes heavy on the citrus and pine hops, certainly a welcome development at this point in the night. Even with my palate probably being in pretty bad shape, I found this to be quite good. And you've just gotta love the label/name of this beer too. I should pick up a bottle of the stuff and give it a fair shake, though I'll still hand it a B+ rating, making it one of the better beers of the night.
  • Lagunitas New Dogtown Pale Ale - One of those late arrivals, this one actually held its own against some of the bigger beers I'd been drinking. Big citrus and pine character in the nose and taste, making it seem more like a straight up IPA than a lowly Pale Ale. Quite enjoyable and again, one of the better beers of the night. B+
  • St. Bernardus Tripel - Another beer I've actually reviewed before, though this time my feelings on the beer haven't changed much. I didn't have a lot of it tonight, but it's pretty much exactly what I remember about it. Excellent Belgian Tripel, if not quite my favorite.
  • Yuengling Oktoberfest - At this point in the night, my palate is pretty well wrecked, but again, it seemed like a really solid, traditional take on the Oktoberfest style. Not exactly my thing, but I could probably put a few of these down in a session if duty called for such. Indeed, I might even prefer this to the ubiquitous Yuengling Lager... B
  • Lavery Stingy Jack Pumpkin Ale - My other contribution for the night, I think this one comported itself quite well. It's got that big, chewy pumpkin pie thing going on here, but the balance of malt, pumpkin, and spice was pretty well honed here, as I really enjoyed it. Now, again, I was pretty well in the bag at this point, but the bomber I brought seemed to go pretty quickly, and folks seemed to enjoy it. I'll give it a provisional B+
Phew, that ended up being quite a list of beers. Oddly, they were all pale colored - not a single stout to be had. The closest thing to a dark beer was Nosferatu, which probably couldn't be counted as pale, but it's no stout either. Not that I'm complaining. Indeed, I shall declare this gathering yet another success. I'm already thinking ahead to our next meeting...

Evolution Lot No3 IPA

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Maryland's Evolution Craft Brewing Company has been making the rounds in the Philly beer scene for the past few months, and I've been lucky enough to try a few of them. In particular, I've enjoyed their IPAs, which are decidedly of the East Coast variety. I'm actually not a big proponent of making that coastal distinction (there's room for differing takes on a style within that same style - an IPA is an IPA, dammit), but apparently that's a thing, and Evolution's Lot series of IPAs certainly qualify as East Coast. There's more of a malt backbone, perhaps a bit less straight bitterness, but to me, it's still the same style. Whatevers, here's Evolution's flagship IPA:

Evolution Lot No3 IPA

Evolution Lot No3 IPA - Pours a clear golden orange color with a finger of whitish head. Smells of big, piney hops, with some orangey citrus and floral notes. Taste is along similar lines, tons of citrus, pine, and floral hop character, with a solid malt backbone and a light bitterness in the finish. Mouthfeel is well carbonated and medium bodied, drinks really well. Overall, this is a very well crafted IPA, would make a great go-to beer. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 6.8% ABV bottled (12 oz.) Drank out of a tulip on 10/5/12.

At this point, I've actually had Evolution's Lot No6 a few times - it's a double IPA that's basically got the same flavor profile as the above, but amped up a little more. It's a really nice beer, and I'm happy to see Evolution expanding. Perhaps I'll get my hands on some others soon...

Weyerbacher Whiskey Barrel Aged

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The full name of this beer is actually Weyerbacher Whiskey Barrel Aged Ale Aged in Whiskey Barrels. Believe it or not, there's a good reason for this seeming redundancy, though it requires some explanation. First, this beer is part of Weyerbacher's Brewers' Select series - a progression of "one-off and experimental brews to encourage creativity and collaboration between all of our brewers." This is sorta reminiscent of Tröegs' Scratch Series, the idea being that Weyerbacher gets to play around with tiny pilot batches using new techniques and strange ingredients in the hopes that the process will lead to new year-round offerings or improvements to same. A new brew is made every few months, then released at the brewery itself with the occasional keg being sent out to local bars.

Each beer in the series is named to follow the NATO phonetic alphabet (Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, etc...), and this 23rd installment was naturally going to be Whiskey. Apparently getting beer labels approved by the feds is a tricky proposition even in the best of times, and in this case, naming a beer after another alcoholic beverage added an extra wrinkle. But it turns out that the law allows for a "fanciful name" as long as you include a "Statement of Process" or some such thing. Thus we end up with a name "Whiskey Barrel Aged" with a statement of process "Ale Aged in Whiskey Barrels", all of which indicates that this is, in fact, beer, not whiskey. Or something. Did I say there was a "good" reason for this? Yeah, that's not really true, I guess, but none of this buffoonery should be attributed to Weyerbacher.

So the base beer here is a 9% ABV Brown ale, made with six malts and aged in bourbon barrels. I thought I had missed out on this beer forever, but fortune smiled upon me this past Friday when the Side Bar tapped a keg of the stuff:

Weyerbacher Whiskey Barrel Aged

Weyerbacher Whiskey Barrel Aged - Pours a very dark brown (almost black) color, with a finger of khaki colored head. Some light whiskey in the nose, along with some almost fruity notes. As I drink, a pleasant oak and vanilla character emerges too. Taste has a prominent whiskey component, but not overpowering the more typical nutty, toasty notes of the base brown ale. Again, oak and vanilla come out as I drink, and there's a hint of those fruity malt flavors too. Mouthfeel is full bodied and rich, but not overly thick or chewy... Really well balanced, just big enough to keep it interesting, but not overwhelming or face melting. No real booziness to speak of, despite the whiskey character. Overall, this might be one of my fave Weyerbacher beers ever. Fantastic, well balanced, complex stuff. A

Beer Nerd Details: 9% ABV on tap. Drank out of a snifter on 10/5/12. 27 IBU.

I'm usually very happy to try one-off brews, but I'm rarely sad that I don't get to drink more. This is among the few, the proud, the ones I want to see again. Weyerbacher hasn't technically ruled that out, but it still seems unlikely. In any case, I'm definitely going to be on the lookout for X-Ray (and, for that matter, Yankee and Zulu). No idea what Weyerbacher plans to do once they reach the end of the alphabet. NATO digits are kinda boring, except for niner, but you could also go with some of the British or U.S. phonetic alphabets (lots of overlap with Nato, but some cool stuff there too).

A Victory For Barrel Aging

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Well I just posted about Victory's Red Thunder, where they age their Baltic porter in red wine barrels, but it appears that Victory isn't stopping there. Though there's no press releases about these additional barrel aging projects, their labels have been showing up on BeerPulse, which means that something is going on.

First up, we've got Victory Oak Horizontal Bourbon Barrel-aged Barleywine. The name is a play on Victory's Old Horizontal, a barleywine they actually haven't made in a couple years due to the large amount of production resources required to brew it. Fortunately, Victory's opening a new facility nearby which should increase production to the point where they can play around with big beers like this again, and this Bourbon Barrel treatment sounds like a great idea:

Victory Oak Horizontal Label

Next, we've got Victory White Monkey White Wine Barrel-aged Tripel. Again, the name is a play on Golden Monkey, one of my longtime favorites from Victory. I'm not a huge white wine guy, but this actually does seem like a good match, and it's nice to see that breweries are taking chances on things other than Bourbon barrels (even if they still tend to be my favorite)...

Victory White Monkey Label

In short, it's looking like Victory is getting more adventurous these days, a trend I can certainly get behind. Of course, I have no idea when the above bottles will be released - it could very well be far off, but I'm guessing they'll show up sometime later this year or early next year. And with the opening of their new facility, I only expect to see more of this barrel-aged stuff start to show up. Not to mention the prospect of getting more Wild Devil (which is basically Brett dosed Hop Devil). And who knows, maybe they'll start bottling some of them Ranch Double IPA series beers... But for now, I'll just be happy with the above (and with my cellared Dark Intrigue and Otto in Oak)

Update 12/23/12: Both Red Thunder and Oak Horizontal have been released and reviewed... Cheers!

Lost Abbey Red Poppy Ale

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The Lost Abbey distributes here, but as near as I can tell, rarities like this oak-aged, sour-cherry-soaked wild ale aren't readily available (I've certainly never seen it around here). This was first released a few years ago to rapturous reviews, and by all accounts, the hype is well deserved (or maybe not, there's always a dissenter). I got a hold of this bottle via that trade with Jay from Beer Samizdat that I've been lording over all my readers about for a month or so (don't worry, only a couple beers left in that haul). My flirtation with the sick world of sour beers has slowly been solidifying into a more, uh, solid enthusiasm, and it's beers like this that have fanned the flames:

Lost Abbey Red Poppy Ale

The Lost Abbey Red Poppy Ale - Pours a clear brown color with beautiful amber hues when held up to light, along with a finger of light colored head. Smells of earthy funk and a fruity, tangy sweetness. Maybe a little oak too. One of those beers that I was sniffing a lot, which would be really weird if I were in mixed company, but fortunately I felt free to explore the nose on this. Taste starts with a rich sweetness, some tart cherries and the lightest of sour twangs emerging in the middle, with some very well incorporated oak character rounding things out. Complex, but perfectly balanced flavor profile here. Mouthfeel is wonderful. Full, rich body tempered by ample carbonation, making this thing quite drinkable. Overall, this is among my favorite sours ever. A

Beer Nerd Details: 5% ABV bottled (375 ml, caged and corked). Drank out of a tulip glass on 9/30/12. Vintage 2012 C (I think that's what the label sez, it's a little smudged).

You know what this reminded me of? It seems like a more intense version of Rodenbach Grand Cru, which ain't no slouch either (it's got a Kaedrin A rating as well). This makes me want to beg, borrow, or steal some of those other rare Lost Abbey sours, like the Veritas beers, or Cable Car, or any of a handful of other rarities. Who knows what kind of success I'll find on that quest, but in the meantime, I can always track down a Serpent's Stout or other "regular" Lost Abbey ales...

I actually had this at a beer club outing last year, and I loved it so much that I went out and bought a bottle. It was a big, rich imperial stout mixed with typical pumpkin pie flavors, but very well balanced. Or was it? This was a beer that really shined in the beer club setting, where I was only trying a few ounces, if that. And as pumpkin beers go, this was the first time I'd had a pumpkin stout, a combination of flavors that was surprisingly good. But maybe I've fallen prey to a classic market research problem. Fair warning, serious nerdery ahoy. Feel free to skip to the review below.

Remember the embarrassment that was New Coke? Longtime readers know I'm a huge fan of Coke and I really freakin hate Pepsi. Why did Coke reformulate their time-honored, classic formula? Well, Coke had been losing ground to Pepsi, and then this classic ad campaign came out: The Pepsi Challenge. Basically, Pepsi went out and asked a bunch of loyal Coke drinkers to take a sip from two glasses and pick which one was better. The participants preferred Pepsi by a rather large margin. Coke disputed the results until they started running their own internal sip tests... and got pretty much the same results. So they started fiddling with their fabled formula, making it sweeter and lighter (i.e. more like Pepsi). Eventually, they settled on a formula that consistently outperformed Pepsi in the challenge, and thus New Coke was born.

Of course, we all know what happened. New Coke was a disaster. Coke drinkers were outraged, the company's sales plunged, and Coke was forced to bring back the original formula as "Classic Coke" just a few months later (at which point New Coke practically disappeared). What's more, Pepsi's seemingly unstoppable ascendance never materialized. When it comes to the base cola brand, people still prefer Coke to Pepsi, sip tests be damned! So what's going on here? Why do people buy Coke when sip tests show that they like Pepsi better? Malcolm Gladwell wrote about why in his book Blink:

The difficulty with interpreting the Pepsi Challenge findings begins with the fact that they were based on what the industry calls a sip test or a CLT (central location test). Tasters don't drink the entire can. They take a sip from a cup of each of the brands being tested and then make their choice. Now suppose I were to ask you to test a soft drink a little differently. What if you were to take a case of the drink home and tell me what you think after a few weeks? Would that change your opinion? It turns out it would. Carol Dollard, who worked for Pepsi for many years in new-product development, says, "I've seen many times when the CLT will give you one result and the home-use test will give you the exact opposite. For example, in a CLT, consumers might taste three or four different products in a row, taking a sip or a couple sips of each. A sip is very different from sitting and drinking a whole beverage on your own. Sometimes a sip tastes good and a whole bottle doesn't. That's why home-use tests give you the best information. The user isn't in an artificial setting. They are at home, sitting in front of the TV, and the way they feel in that situation is the most reflective of how they will behave when the product hits the market."

Dollard says, for instance, that one of the biases in a sip test is toward sweetness: "If you only test in a sip test, consumers will like the sweeter product. But when they have to drink a whole bottle or can, that sweetness can get really overpowering or cloying." Pepsi is sweeter than Coke, so right away it had a big advantage in a sip test. Pepsi is also characterized by a citrusy flavor burst, unlike the more raisiny-vanilla taste of Coke. But that burst tends to dissipate over the course of an entire can, and that is another reason Coke suffered by comparison. Pepsi, in short, is a drink built to shine in a sip test. Does this mean that the Pepsi Challenge was a fraud? Not at all. It just means that we have two different reactions to colas. We have one reaction after taking a sip, and we have another reaction after drinking a whole can.


The parallel here is obvious. Drinking a small dose of a beer in the context of beer club (where I'm sampling a whole bunch of beers) can lead to some distortion in ratings. I usually mention this bias in my beer club posts, but despite my usual snark when bringing it up, I do think those ratings are a bit suspect.

In this particular case, the beer did not fare quite as well upon revisiting it in a more controlled environment (sheesh, I'm a nerd), though I suppose the fact that I aged this beer a year or so also has something to do with it. Yet more distortion! I suspect a fresh bottle would have more of that rich, chewy stout character and a more biting spice presence, whereas this aged bottle showed a lot more pumpkin and less in the way of stoutness. Spicing was clearly still strong, but not quite as bright as they seemed last year. Ok fine, I admit it, all of my tasting notes are unreliable. I hope your happy. Anywho, here's my notes:

Cape Ann Fishermans Imperial Pumpkin Stout

Cape Ann Fisherman's Imperial Pumpkin Stout (2011 Vintage) - Pours a black color with minimal, rather light colored head. Smells very sweet, with a huge pumpkin pie component, with both pumpkin and spice asserting themselves. Taste is again very sweet, with some caramel flavors, a little in the way of chocolate, and even a little roastiness, but those pumpkin pie notes are here too, and they get stronger the more I drink. This seems to have lost some of its punch from last year, though it's still big and flavorful stuff. Mouthfeel is rich and creamy, a little spicy, but this doesn't drink like an 11% beer. Definitely not as great as I remembered, but still very solid and overall, as pumpkin beers go, this is still one of my favorites. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 11% ABV bottled (22 oz. bomber). Drank out of a snifter on 9/29/12. 2011 vintage.

Yeah, so maybe I'll try to find a fresh bottle of this stuff and see if it fares any better. I've actually never had any of Cape Ann's other Fisherman's beers, so I should probably get on that too...

Jolly Pumpkin Baudelaire iO Saison

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I'd eyed this saison brewed with rose hips, rose petals, and hibiscus, at the beer store this past summer, but I guess I didn't look close enough, as the fact that it's brewed by Jolly Pumpkin wasn't readily apparent. Luckily for me, Jay had posted about this beer a while back and given it a glowing review, so the next time I saw it, I made sure to snatch it up. I've always enjoyed Jolly Pumpkin's beers, but I have to admit, I've never really been blown away by them. Until now! But first, pedantry:

Apparently this is the first in "a liquid narrative" being told by Jolly Pumpkin founder Ron Jeffries and label artist Adam Forman. As such, this new series of beers (named in honor of French poet Charles Baudelaire) has a different sort of aesthetic when it comes to label design, hence my not recognizing it for what it was (in all honesty, I rather like the label design more than the traditional Jolly Pumpkin style). Forman was also working on a graphic novel as a companion to the beers, but that's "on hold." No biggie, though, cause this is some wonderful beer:

Jolly Pumpkin Baudelaire iO Saison

Jolly Pumpkin Baudelaire iO - Pours a cloudy, dark reddish orange color with a couple fingers of pillowy head. Smells strongly of biscuity, spicy Belgian yeast with a healthy dose of Brett funk that almost, but not quite, hits a sour note. The taste starts sweet, with that bready, spicy Belgian yeast character yielding to earthy, funky Brettanomyces in the middle and finish. Maybe a little bit of fruitiness to the taste too (perhaps some floral notes from the rose and hibiscus), not quite sour, but in that wild direction. The mouthfeel is highly carbonated, effervescent, full bodied, and very dry all throughout. Overall, we've got a well balanced, complex, funky beer here that I might have rated even higher had I not just had Logsdon's wonderful Seizoen Bretta. Still, this is fantastic stuff. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 6.8% ABV bottled (750 ml capped). Drank out of a tulip glass on 9/28/12. Batch 1019. Bottled 02-23-2012.

Apparently this was made in pretty limited quantities, but they say they will probably be making it again, so if you like funky saisons, this is a must try for you. I'll probably be seeking out some more Jolly Pumpkin in the meantime, and perhaps some additional entries in the Baudelaire series will make appearances. One can only hope...

Bourbon County Brand Stout

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After my trip to the homebrew shop last week, I popped down the road to one of my favorite little beer bars in the burbs, Station Taproom. It's a small place, but they've usually got some good stuff on tap, and what to my wondering eyes did appear? Bourbon County Brand Stout, we meet at last. I don't get the impression that this is a super rare beer, but Goose Island only started distributing out here a year or so ago (I think) and I've never actually seen a bottle of this around.

I suppose it should be acknowledged that Goose Island is now owned by the great Satan, AB-InBev, but I've always cared more about what's in the bottle than anything else. As a general principle, Goose Island doesn't get a ton of love from us Kaedrinians, but only because there's just such a massive variety of beer available out there that I don't feel particularly obligated to try their stuff. But by all accounts, this beer is a classic and I've kinda been drooling over the prospect of trying this for a few years now. Apparently Goose Island started making it way back in... 1992? That can't be right. Is it? Holy crap, apparently that's true. Anywho, Goose Island has one of the largest (if not the largest) barrel aging programs in the country, and if those devils at AB-InBev are able to expand that without impacting quality (hardly a sure thing), who am I to complain? Alright, so let's get to it:

Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout

Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout - Pours pitch black color with a finger of light brown head. Very thick looking, like old motor oil. Smells strongly of bourbon and oak, with some vanilla and caramel coming out to play too... Taste has a ton of deep sweetness, lots of rich bourbon, caramel, dark chocolate, oak, vanilla, and just a hint of booziness (which is impressive for such a monster beer)... Mouthfeel is rich, creamy, thick and chewy, coating your mouth leaving those complex flavors to linger pleasantly on the palate. A little booziness and alcohol warming, but nothing overwhelming and actually pretty light for a 14.5% beer. It's reasonably well balanced for such a monster. Overall, superb. A

Beer Nerd Details: 14.5% ABV on tap. Drank out of a goblet on 9/27/12.

I'd love to get my hands on some bottles of these, as it's certainly one of the better big barrel aged stouts I've had. I can't say as though I'm going to run out and try other Goose Island beers, but I'll definitely be seeking out anything from the Bourbon County Brand series.

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Hi, my name is Mark, and I like beer.

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