Dark Metal… As Opposed to Light Metal?

Birrificio_Indipendete_Dark_Metal_Imperial_StoutOn the docket:  750mL bottle of Birrificio Indipendente Elav’s Dark Metal Imperial Stout (8% abv)

Poured into:  River Horse snulip

Sight:  A hue straight from the Dark One’s soul- so black it seems to suck in the light around it.  A big, velvety, khaki cap of a head sits on top.  Gradually, it recedes.  The lacing looks like the font artist for Borknagar doodled on the rim of the glass.

Aroma:  Luscious, bold dark chocolate, French-roast coffee, anise.  A tingle of complex warming alcohols.  Subtle whiff of pine and spice from the Chinook hops.

Taste:  Roasted barley, high-cacao content dark chocolate.  Smooth, almost cold-press coffee and a bitter finish to balance off the sweet malt.  Long finish of black licorice and earthy, peppery spice.  As it warms, a slight twang emerges, like that found in Guinness.

Feel: Medium-full.  Not quite chewy, but getting there.  Light, tingly carbonation.

Overall:  Pleasant imperial stout from a prior-unknown Italian brewery.  Puts Peroni to shame (which, FYI is owned by Asahi!!  That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, Peroni is actually Japanese).  Throw up horns and crank up the volume on some Kreator, Testament, or Opeth.

Suggested food pairing:  Smoked gouda, baby-back ribs, vanilla-bean NY style cheesecake, the blood of the innocents…

… that last one was a joke

Advertisements

To Boldly Drink: Carton’s Cosmonaut

On the docket:  Carton’s Cosmonaut

A:  Decadent aroma of coffee, vanilla, dark cocoa powder, coffee and a waft of booze.  Deep, dark, bold.  If the blackness of space were “aromatized” and the “scary” removed, this is what you’d smell.  Luxury.

Sight:  The blackest of black, with slightly darker black highlights suck in all the light around the body.  Komrade, this is one dark beer.  The khaki head wells up, up and almost over the rim of the glass, but the boosters fall off, and the head plummets back down.  Completely opaque, and the search for bubbles is fruitless.  All that’s left is a small remnant of head completely covering the surface of the beer.

T:  Much of the aroma follows through into the palate, all the crew is there- coffee, vanilla, dark chocolate plus a hint a cinnamon and nutmeg.  Mission control also provides a vague berry candy flavor, which may in fact be the dehydrated ice cream.  Mid palate you discover a bit of raisin-esque and brown sugar sweetness.  However, the tannic, astringent bitterness of the roast and hops take over on the finish, adding balance and dryness to the finish.  Only when is warms up do you taste evidence of the abv (10%!).

F:  Chewy.  Oily.  Rich and bold, a firmness that marks the best of Imperial Stouts.  Carbonation here is very fine and is hard-pressed to complete its mission of scrubbing your palate.  Fearless, they press on.

O:  A complex brew expertly executed.  If you love roasty, full-flavored, sip-demanding beer, you are Go For Launch with Carton’s Cosmonaut.  This beer begs to be paired with a cigar

 

Clear Your Schedule: Weyerbacher’s Sunday Morning Schedule

On the docket:  12 oz. bottle of Weyerbacher’s Sunday Morning Stout (with coffee and whiskey barrel aged), best by date:  2018 (could easily age for longer)

Poured into:  6 oz. wine glass

Aroma:  No words, just feelings.  This is what dreams are made of.  A voluptuous melange of vanilla, coffee, chocolate, oak, and bliss.  The hops are in there somewhere, but I think they’re laying low and letting the other elements do the heavy lifting.  There’s a definite boozy presence that gets thicker as the beer warms.

Sight:  Inkwell-black body with a khaki and orange hued head that builds and dies just as quickly.  All that’s left of the cap exists as a wispy ring and microscopic bubbles.  Carbonation activity unknown, the body pulls in all the light around it.  Lacing is delicate and grid-like.

Taste:  Even on the chilly side, this beer exhibits a twang of roasted coffee and the barrel-aged characteristics of wood, caramel, vanilla, and light spiciness common to good American Whiskey.  Some chocolate comes through as well, but just a hint.  The most important piece of this puzzle asserts itself as dark roasted malt.  Like the aroma, the alcohol comes across easily, though not in a “hot” manner.

Feel:  Rich, oily, astringent.  Finely attuned carbonation, capable of keeping this beer in the air, so to speak.  You always go back for another sip, and then another… but beware, this Imperial Stout weighs in at 11.3% abv, so be sure to actually do the Sunday Times Crossword with your beer, lest you end up needing a nap on the couch.  Finish is long and warming like the whiskey it got to know in the barrel.

Overall:  On par with the often acclaimed barrel-aged imperial stouts heralded on Untappd and BeerAdvocate, but easier to acquire (depending on your geographic region).  I still feel this one flies under the radar.  Love them or hate them, Weyerbacher is capable of producing pleasurable drinking experiences in their high abv offerings.

Food pairing:  Nutty or earthy cheese, beef stew, Cannoli, vanilla ice cream, or, as a cocktail beer (on its own)

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

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

Lost in the Maze: Uinta’s Labyrinth

On the docket:  750 mL cork and cage bottle of Uinta’s Labyrinth, bottle date:  7/26 (year unknown)

Poured into:  Jester King Snorkel snifter

S:  The inkiest, blackest, consuming black fills my glass.  On top, espresso-foam head wells up, then settles to a small ring.  It’s completely opaque, so I cannot detect bubble activity.  I could stare into its depths for hours, but I have to smell and taste it, too.

A:  Roasted coffee, wood, the darkest of chocolate, and Oh My Sweet Lord!  Black Licorice.  Bright citrus aroma off the hops.  And yes… booze.  This black beauty weighs in at 13.2%.  Sip with care!

T:  If I were Adam, in the Garden, and Lucifer were to slither up to me with a glass of this and start speaking of rebellion–well–let’s just say he wouldn’t have to try very hard.  This is most of everything I look for in a dark, dangerous beer.  Sweet date and fig up front quickly yields to coffee, dark chocolate, and black licorice.  The bright note from the hop aroma shows up towards the end, only to be outdone by a dry, roasty, woody finish.  The faintest hint of vanilla.  Your tongue turns to 800 grit sandpaper and you go back for another seductive barrage of flavor.  A note- the black licorice is smooth and silky, like that of gourmet product, not of a candy that rhymes with sizzler.

F:  Creamy, oily, slick, coating.  Rich and luxurious.  As it warms…. so does the finish, though quite dry.  Drink cool for crispness, drink warmer for richness.

O:  Quite possibly the best imperial stout I’ve ever tasted, and though I may not have had offerings such as The Abyss, Dark Lord, Hunahpu, Speedway, Black Note, or those whales that people chase… good God!  Give me one of these every year, and I’ll consider myself a blessed man.

S:  4  A:  4.5  T:  4.75  F:  4.25  O:  4.5

Suggested food pairing:  smoked charcuterie, braised beef, low and slow barbecue, tiramisu, and my personal pick- traditional Slovak poppy seed roll.  Divine flavor synthesis.

Not The Verve: Left Hand’s Bittersweet (Symphony) Imperial Coffee Milk Stout

On the docket:  22 oz. Left Hand Brewing Co.’s Bittersweet Imperial Coffee Milk Stout (best by date of 4/17/16)

Poured into:  Jester King Snorkel snifter

S:  A coca-cola colored head forms atop an opaque, brown-black body.  It settles to a small cap, and leaves delicate, thin rings around the glass.  After peering closely at the bottom of my glass, I do see bubbles slowly tuning upwards to the top.

A:  The overture begins with roasted malt in the form of coffee, dark dark chocolate, and that oat-y aroma that reminds you of Sam Smith’s Oatmeal Stout or Left Hand’s own Milk Stout on Nitro (or even their Fade to Black).  A pleasant surprise- despite the high abv (8.9%) I do not detect the alcohols at the outset.  Perhaps they’ll feature in the second movement, after the beer has had a chance to warm up.  The hops, while subdued, are present in the form of a faint whiff of pine.

T:  A (bittersweet) symphony of flavors swirls around your palate after one sip.  Espresso and coffee tones are at a forte volume, from the actual coffee and roasted malt.  The sweetness from the lactose decrescendos the volume, smooths out the rough edges, like a strings section rounding out a bold brass of trombones, French horns and euphoniums.  If you listen closely with your tongue, you might even hear the gentle “ting” of the dark cherry triangle.  The movement ends with a bit of clanging bitterness, the hops playing snare drum and cymbals.  A low, warm boozy bassoon completes the finish.

F:  Smooth, fluffy and velvety- flutes, clarinets and perhaps a piccolo, to extend the musical metaphor I already established.  Oily, coating.  Deceptively light-bodied despite the usual assumption people have that dark beer is heavy.  The carbonation is present, gentle pricks on the tongue.  It’s just enough to scrub away the sweetness, like an usher guiding you to your seat with a flashlight.

O:  Marvelous offering by my favorite, sinister-friendly brewery.  It’s something to take in, and enjoy.  Pick it apart, study it.  Analyze it, like you might do with a well-composed piece of music.  I did.  I’d call this one Brahms-like, akin to his requiem.

Suggested food pairing:  Bold barbecue, earthy cheddar cheese, desserts featuring dark chocolate, cherries, or coffee flavors, tiramisu

S:  4.0  A:  4.0  T:  4.5  F:  4.0  O:  4.25