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

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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