Dark Wednesday 2018

Eschewing the Black Friday events most breweries seem to favor for their barrel-aged stout releases, Victory has always done their thing a day before Thanksgiving, which they hath dubbed Dark Wednesday. Once upon a time, this was for Dark Intrigue (basically barrel-aged Storm King and probably the first beer release that I’d ever waited in line for), but the past few years have seen the rise of Java Cask, and variants of same. This year, we were treated to three new variants on the Java Cask theme (plus the original). Alas, none of these variants is the one I’ve been pining for (i.e. one without coffee, so, like, just “Cask” or maybe “Bourbon Cask”, though I’m guessing the TTB would have problems with that, but I think I’ve made my point.) But then, beggars can’t be choosers, and despite my coffee ambivalence, I always look forward to trying a couple of these every year. Let’s start with my favorite of the year:

Victory Java Cask Maple

Victory Java Cask Maple – Basically Java Cask aged in Bourbon Barrels that were previously used to age maple syrup (a treatment that appears to be gaining in popularity these days) for 8 months. Also of note, if you click on the picture above to embiggen it, you will see that this bottle was signed by Ron Barchet and Bill Covaleski… and some guy named James, who I’m not familiar with but who I’m sure is incredibly important. – Pours a deep, viscous dark brown, almost black color with a finger of tan head. Smells of roasted coffee, chocolate coffee, maybe a hint of that maple (a light touch in the nose), and did I mention coffee. Taste starts off with a rich caramel note, followed by maple syrup, then coffee, finishing on that bourbon, oak, and vanilla jam. Plenty of coffee for this non-coffee drinker, but certainly less than the nose would imply. As it warms both the maple and the coffee come out more, so that is a thing that happened. Mouthfeel is full bodied, rich, and chewy, ample but appropriate amounts of carbonation, and a pleasant level of boozy heat. Overall, I like this better than the Rye/Rye Vanilla variants and I might even like it better than regular Java Cask, but my lack of coffee enthusiasm is still a limiting factor. Indeed, I might even like this as much as or more than CBS. I’m the worst, but I still give it a strong A-

Beer Nerd Details: 13% ABV bottled (750 ml caged and corked). Drank out of a tulip glass on 11/21/18. Bottled on 14 Nov 2018.

Victory Java Cask Latte

Victory Java Cask Latte – A DONG offering on Dark Wednesday that is basically a milk stout version of Java Cask that is calibrated at a much lower ABV of 8.3%. The addition of lactose is supposed to make up for the decrease in body. I didn’t take formal notes for this one, but I did have two small glasses – one on regular tap and one on nitro. I think I liked the nitro one (pictured above) more, but both feel like imitations of their full-strength big-brothers. This sort of thing has its charms though, and I appreciate being able to sample something without taking in too much alcohol. B

Beer Nerd Details: 8.3% on draft/nitro. Drank out of a… small weizen glass? Whatever you call that thing in the picture. On 11/21/18.

Victory Java Cask Gold

Java Cask Gold – Not sure I’m on board with the whole blonde stout thing, but this is a blonde coffee stout made with lactose, brown sugar, cacao nibs, oats, and dark roast coffee, aged in buffalo trace barrels for 7 months. – Pours a clear, pale orange color with half a finger of off-white head. Smells… a lot like Java Cask. Lots of roasted coffee, coffee, maybe a bit of chocolate, and oh yeah, I almost missed… the coffee. The taste, though, does not feel like a stout. Which I guess makes sense, since it’s not. Sweet, but not that deep, a bit of caramel, some coffee, but they’re not quite playing together as well here; a heaping helping of bourbon, but not particularly well integrated with the rest of the flavors. I like bourbon and all, but it seems to be overpowering the base. Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied, well carbed, and quite boozy. Overall, an interesting experiment, but a little off-balanced and it never really harmonizes into a great beer… but it’s certainly interesting! If a tad disappointing. B-

Beer Nerd Details: 11.8% ABV bottled (500 ml). Drank out of a snifter glass on 11/22/18. Bottled on 16 Nov 2018.

So there you have it. The Maple variant is the clear winner of the year, and I’m looking forward to seeing what they cook up for next year (fingers crossed for the non-coffee version!) In the meantime, we’ve got some actual Black Friday releases that we’re going to cover, including tons of variants of Kaedrin favorites, so stay tuned.

5 thoughts on “Dark Wednesday 2018”

  1. Somebody out there has a similar “golden mocha stout,” can’t remember who off the top of my head. I’m not big on coffee adjunct in beer, and really wary of this whole “blonde stout” thing too. But it’s really good.

    I’ve been drinking Narragansett’s newest of late. It’s an Autocrat (coffee milk syrup, an RI staple) coffee milk stout. All of those things sound pretty grim (as above), but it’s actually a great beer. A lot better than the typical Narragansett – in case you’re not familiar (doubt it makes it down your way?) former RI go to beer, disappeared for a while, is now brewed in Rochester, NY at the Genessee plant, but they pretend it’s still a local beer. It’s not great, but not bad, on par with Yuengling, and similarly a good lawn mowing beer.

    Also just got back from Michigan for work, where I drank a healthy amount of Perrin Black Ale, which was great (pretty local, too I think?) big dark ale, lots of hop, lots of roasted malt, very good.

    Next week is Cleveland, hoping for something equally as cool beer-wise…will update!

  2. Narragansett shows up around here, though I can’t say as though I’ve ever had the normal lager offering. However, I apparently had a small taste of the Autocrat earlier this year at a share… I did not rate it super high, but then: coffee ambivalence probably has something to do with that.

    Never had Perrin before, but they seem to make solid stuff. And good luck in Cleveland! Great Lakes and I think Fat Heads are there, but probably tons of others that I’ve never heard of… (if you are in the mood for the cloudiest NEIPA stuff around, look for Hoof Hearted, though I think they’re in Columbus)…

  3. Got back from Cleveland late yesterday.

    So, excellent beer scene, as you might expect. Great Lakes was heavily represented, their Dortmunder (golden lager) was great, plus at least one other offering from them.

    Local boys Market Garden (WW2 reference?) had a solid Kolsch and Belgian strong, plus I think one more. Sorry for crappy memory, I don’t travel well, not much sleep.

    Reingheist out of Cincinnati also had an awesome Kolsch.

    I’m a little surprised that Narragansett makes it south to you, only because their basic lager is just eh. On par with Yuengling or so. But it is brewed in Rochester, so probably not that far to distribute.

  4. Someone also had an “albino stout,” which was pretty similar to the referencd golden mocha stout, from local CT boys Stony Point. The albino stout was pretty sweet, an evening ender. I think that one was from Market Garden?

    Everybody had IPAs, but only a few NE IPAs…a welcome relief, though my colleague and travel buddy enjoyed these very much.

    I really liked Cleveland, a comfortable and welcoming city.

  5. Market Garden is an awesome name for a brewery (assuming you’re correct and that it’s a WW2 reference). Sounds like good stuff. Not sure I’m due in Ohio anytime soon, but that all sounds great…


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