A Howling Good Time: Rusty Rail’s Wolf King Warrior Stout

Wolf_King_Warrior_Rusty_RailOn the docket:  12 oz. bottle of Rusty Rail’s Wolf King Warrior Imperial Stout (brewed with coffee and oatmeal) bottled:  01/27/16

Poured into:  Stemmed Innis & Gunn logoed tulip

S:  An opaque walnut brown-black body that sports a khaki head, thick, creamy and full.  No lacing.  Head sticks around for a while before doing a vanishing act, residing as a small ring around the rim.

A:  An initial aroma of bittersweet chocolate and coffee greet the nose.  Added to this is a soft, breakfast cereal note, bringing me back to simpler days when my mother made me oatmeal on the stove.  Also present is a faint longer of anise and just a twang of pine and alcohol.  It reminds me a bit of an Export style stout, a style I enjoy.

T:  At the outset, one gets roasted coffee (as you should!), dark malt, dare I say chicory, and some sweetness.  There is certainly bitterness present, both from the roasted component, and the hops.  There’s also some citrus and pine from the hops, further deepening the complexity of its flavor.  As it warms, the 8.2% abv sticks out its tongue at you.

F:  Medium-light, with a slight astringency from the roasting of the malt and the addition of the coffee.  There is a creamy aspect, but a fine prickly sensation is left from the bubbles. The finish persists until drying off while leaving an unctuous, oily feel on the palate.

O:  This beer fights for your attention, tooth and claw.  You can’t help but take notice.  I think this is somewhat of a hybridization of styles– an Export/Foreign Stout meeting up with an Oatmeal Stout, has a drink of hard alcohol with it at a bar, and then collaborates to come up with a unique brew.  This isn’t such a strange conclusion, as the coffee originates from Costa Rica.  Mouthfeel could be a bit fuller, but overall, flavorful and easy to drink.  Decent offering from an emerging brewery.

Note:  The monogrammed object is my personal “Decapitator” by Corckcicle, a device one can use to remove the cap from the top of a 12/22 oz. bottle of beer.  Through this process, the cap is left nearly unscathed and unbent.  Does not work on capped 750 mL bottles.

S:  4  A:  3.75  T:  3.75  F:  3.5  O:  3.75

Suggested food pairing:  milk chocolate, nutty/earthy cheese, barbecued short ribs, mild chili

The Time Is Now: Otra Vez by Sierra Nevada

 

Sierra_Nevada_Otra_Vez

On the docket:  12 oz. bottle of Otra Vez by sierra Nevada

Quick note:  “Otra vez” is loosely translated as “again,” “anew,” “afresh” or quite literally, “another time.”

 

Aroma: Sweet graininess, a touch of briny tartness, grapefruit and a light… margarita aroma. Is that the prickly-pear?

Sight: Slightly hazy golden straw with a creamy, meringue like bone-white head. Lively carbonation of tiny bubbles zip to the top. The head dissipates quickly, but while present, is rich and smooth.

Taste: An initial sweetness from the malt is squelched by the rush of tart, sour, bracing acidity. Mouth-puckering and intense. This one ends softer, and drier, but the gose-ness remains. The “margarita” mentioned in the aroma translates into a nebulous green fruit, more evident as the beer warms. The salt here is harder to detect, but if you imagine rock salt on the outside of a glass, you’ve got it.

Feel: Medium-light and spritzy. Short finish that dries your mouth out and makes you go back for more.

Overall: Though not exactly traditional, perfectly suited for a session on a hot summer day. A great introduction into the world of sour beer. Tart, zesty, approachable.

Food pairing suggestion: Fruit salad, chicken or pork fajitas, tortilla chips and salsa, beef brisket, fruit tart, creamy, pungent cheese

Swim with the Big Fish: Ballast Point’s Watermelon Dorado DIPA

Ballast_Point_Watermelon_Dorado

On the docket:  12 oz. bottle of Ballast Point Watermelon Dorado DIPA

A: Sweetness and a full waft of watermelon. It’s pleasing to inhale, and smells authentic. clean malt also present, but the fruit aroma certainly overpowers the hops.

S: Golden orange with a thick, persistent beige head. Carbonation activity visible, small bubbles lazily making their way to the top of the glass. Head is thick and creamy, receding slowly. Lacing is regular and bandy.

T: A befuddling blend of watermelon, bitterness, and a touch of malty richness compete for attention. This is exactly what you think it is, a DIPA with watermelon added. There’s definitely traces of both the flesh and a touch of the white almost-rind you encounter if you’re not careful when taking a knife to a wedge. As it approaches room temperature, the hops are more identifiable, countering the fruit with a dose of pine resin.

F: Medium body, with the hallmark oiliness of a DIPA. Though it ends fairly hoppy and bitter, the watermelon carries all the way through to the finish, manifesting itself as a muted version of a watermelon flavored gummy candy (not necessarily a bad thing). Some dryness, just a touch of sweetness.

O: As far as DIPAs go, I’ll stick to traditional renditions. However, if you want a change of pace from your normal routine, pick this up and give it a try.

Suggested food pairing: Um…. spicy Thai food? Easily one of the hardest beers I’ve had to determine a food pairing for- one sip and you might understand why.

Take a Trip With Me: Flying Fish Exit 18 Baltic Porter

Flying_Fish_Exit_18_Baltic_Porter

On the docket:  750 mL bottle of Flying Fish Brewing Co.’s Exit 18 Baltic Porter, no best by/born on date.

Poured into:  Jester King Snorkel snifter

S:  A pitch-black body fills out the snifter, capped with a khaki head that builds, sticks around long enough for you to notice it was there, then makes a smooth exit  (See what I did?).  The result is a soapy vapor-trail like film on top, coupled with a few bubbles and a tightly hugging ring around the perimeter of the glass.  Lacing is spotty and nearly absent.

A:  Dark and brooding.  Roasted malt, mainly coffee and dark chocolate.  Though the malt is the star of the aroma, one can detect a faint bit of citrus and pine from the hops.  Faint whispers of molasses and date/fig, not unlike its cousin, the Russian Imperial Stout.

T:  Much of the aroma follows through to the taste, but that’s fine by me.  Dark, bittersweet chocolate and coffee arrive first, speeding through to the middle, where the fig and/or date flavors get picked up, holding a cardboard sign saying, “will work for beer.”  The trip ends with a hop bitterness, some pine and citrus—and as the beer warms up—a wave of booze.  It’s to be expected.  This Baltic beauty clocks in at 9.5%, so sip with care.  While the booze is present, it’s not alarming.  It’s welcomed, much like finding the highway deserted in the wee hours of the morning on one’s way to work.  An added bonus- a slight (but noticeable) bit of black licorice on the end.

F:  Smooth, creamy, luxurious.  I’ve used that trifecta to describe beer before, but it’s apt.  Delicate carbonation, enough to free up some of the traffic, but it’s more a three lanes back to four, not three lanes back to five, to continue the transportation metaphor.  The hops help to dry out the tongue in the finish, and combined with the roasted malt, provide a nice astringency that gives balance to what could be a too-sweet beer.

O:  So far, my favorite Exit done by Flying Fish, and a great representation of the style.  This is a “clear your schedule” type of beer, especially if you’re not keen on splitting high-abv offerings.

S:  4  A:  4.25  T:  4.5  F:  4  O:  4.25

Suggested food pairing:  grilled red meat and roasted vegetables, hearty stew, earthy, nutty cheese, coffee-driven desserts or maybe even Black Forest cake.  Also good as what I will start calling a “cocktail beer,” in the sense that it’s excellent in place of dessert itself; enjoyed on its own.

It’s Been 20 Years? Stone’s Bitter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout

Stone_Bitter_Chocolate_Oatmeal_Stout

On the docket:  22 oz. Stone Brewing Co.’s 20th Anniversary Encore Bitter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout.  Bottled:  1/10/16.

Poured into:  Stone Brewing Co. branded pint glass

S:  An ebony body fills out the glass.  On top sits an espresso-foam tan head, thick and sustaining.  Lacing is thick and regular.  Bubbles may be present, but the body is so dark, I cannot see them.

A:  Great aroma of dark chocolate, coffee, roasted malt and cut oats.  The hops are lost under the amazing, midnight black medley.  As the beer warms, the alcohol is a bit more pronounced.

T:  The nose carries over into the taste.  Added to the fold is an initial sweetness.  It quickly fades, and the dark, bittersweet baker’s chocolate comes through.  Roasted coffee and a liberal dose of bitter hops carry on through to the finish.  Hops provide a piney punch on the end.  Alcohol is present as a pleasant tingle as the beer approaches room temperature.

F:  Fluffy, smooth, creamy.  For such a high abv beer, this one is easy to drink, mostly due to the oats, lightening the body.  It is titled Bitter Chocolate, and they’re not fooling around at Stone.  Between the hop bill and the treatment of the malt, there is a significant drying effect on the end of this beer.  Long finish, with a bracing bitterness.

O:  Luxurious, sweet but mostly savory.  For those looking for a “grows on you” type of beer, this is for you.  Dark chocolate fans should grab this one.

S:  4  A:  4.25  T:  4.5  F:  4  O:  4.25

Suggested food pairing:  Tiramisu, sweet cheesecake, nutty/creamy English cheese, barbecue with sweet sauce