Beer Review: Magnify Brewing’s Banana Bread Mind over Matter

Name: Banana Bread Mind over Matter
Brewing Company: Magnify Brewing Company
Location: Fairfield, NJ
Style: Stout – Imperial / Double Milk
ABV: 8%

“A balanced and flavorful dessert stout from popular North Jersey brewery.”

Magnify _BB-MoM.jpg

From the description of the beer onuntappd:

Banana Bread Mind Over Matter is a new variant in our series of double chocolate milk stouts featuring a new, refreshed label design. We set out to brew a double chocolate Milk Stout with as much flavor as our 10+% stouts a more manageable ABV. Banana Bread Mind Over Matter is brewed with lactose and conditioned on cocoa nibs, walnuts, wild Thai banana, cinnamon and vanilla.

Magnify has been one of the hottest New Jersey / Northeast breweries over the past few years, with about three new beer releases per week, their IPAs and other flavorful ales are highly sought by craft beer drinkers in the area. I personally haven’t had very many beers from them, so I was looking forward to giving something from them a try for the blog.

”Mind over Matter” is a series of Imperial Milk Stouts Magnify brews with various adjuncts, there’s a “S’Mores” version, a Pancake version (which I’ve had) made with maple syrup, a “Candy Cane” version, and so forth. This version looks to emulate banana bread, obviously, and is brewed with walnuts, “wild Thai banana,” cinnamon, and vanilla. I really enjoy banana bread and beer with most of these adjuncts, but I was admittedly a little wary of what the walnuts would bring.

The pop of the can is nice and the beer that pours into my glass is dark and thick. It definitely has the appearance I’d expect at the outset. The strongest element in the aroma for me was the cinnamon, which is quite welcome. I give the glass a little swirl and there’s a nice reddish/burgundy tint to the edges from the foam from the cinnamon.

First sip test….the beer easily passes that test. There’s a lot going on with this beer, just look at all those adjuncts I mentioned! I enjoy the taste quite a bit and I want to drink more to really figure out if the flavors I’ve tasted match up with the description

As I enjoy the pint over the course of about an hour, I begin to get a nice feel for this beer and what works for me. The sweetness is incredibly potent, but it isn’t overpowering and cloying. The cinnamon is the most prevalent additive I taste, which works for me, it is ever present. There’s a soft creaminess to the beer, too. I’m not sure how much of the banana is coming through, but on the finish, the walnuts assert themselves and I’m pleased. I suppose I like the flavor of walnuts, but I loathe having any kind of nut in my baked goods probably because of the texture. I just hate the way the hard crunchiness ruins the softness of say, a brownie or banana bread.

Banana Bread Mind over Matter is a damned good “beer interpretation” of banana bread. The cinnamon is wonderful, the hints of walnut give the beer a nice finish. If I can knock the beer for anything it is that the bananas themselves aren’t quite as present in the overall flavor profile of the beer compared to the other elements. However, of the 10 beers I’ve had from Magnify Brewing over the years, this beer is hands down the best beer I’ve had from them.

Recommended, link to Untappd 4.25-bottle cap rating.

Beer Review: Stone Xocoveza

Name: Xocoveza
Brewing Company: Stone Brewing Company
Location: Escondido, CA
Style: Imperial Milk Stout
ABV: 8.1%

From the beer’s description on Stone Brewing’s Web site:

There’s nothing like making a beer so beloved that people feel compelled to campaign for its return. So, in the spirit of the holiday season, we are very pleased to give our fans the number one item on their wish lists. As illustrated by the avalanche of social media requests, that is Stone Xocoveza, an insanely delicious take on Mexican hot chocolate brewed with cocoa, coffee, pasilla peppers, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg. First brewed in 2014 with San Diego homebrewer Chris Banker after his recipe won our annual homebrew competition, this imperial stout is layered with smooth roastiness, semisweet chocolate and a touch of spice. Thanks entirely to you, this creamy, mocha stout has gone from initially being a one-time offering to a yearly tradition. Happy holidays from all of us to all of you…and feel free to continue enjoying it long into the spring and summer, as this gem will age beautifully and is definitely not exclusive to the winter season!

Quick Take: A brewery known for hopped up ales brewing a stout warrants notice. When the beer is this delicious, well, it warrants more than just “notice.”

One of the giants in American Craft Brewing is Stone Brewing. If Sierra Nevada is the top of California Craft beer, then Stone is a pretty close second in terms of longevity, quality, and influence. Opened in 1996, the brewery is known for a range of hopped up IPAs and Arrogant Bastard, a beer strong enough to form its own “brewery within a brewery” known shockingly as “Arrogant Brewing.”

I’ve come to realize beers with more of a West Coast hop profile don’t always go well with my taste buds. I’m not going to rattle off the big name West Coast breweries who brew renowned beers that don’t work for me. That’s not what the Tap Takeover is about, in fact, the opposite of that. I’ve had a few from Stone and enjoyed the ones that fall in my style wheelhouse (a regular Milk Stout, Witbier, and Saison) so I was anxious to give Xocoveza a try. I like milk stouts, but that West Coast hope profile gave me a pause. On the other hand, the profile and ingredients were a very close match for the wonderful Mexican Morning Stout from Conclave Brewing. How could I not try this beer?

Once the glass is full, nothing appears to hint at the complex flavors. It looks like a beautiful, black stout. The head is a little off-white, with maybe a little bit of red giving it a color that’s slightly different from most stouts and the hint of, maybe, something special.

The aroma, though, the aroma gives the hints of the flavors to expect. Chocolate, cinnamon, coffee, even vanilla come through in a perfect balance of flavors. The lactose, which is what makes this a milk stout, adds a creaminess that helps to balance the spice from the cinnamon and later, the pepper. The end is when the peppers come through and combined with the cinnamon that still lingers, gives a nice tingly taste along the palette and even down in the belly as the beer settles.

Like many stouts, especially the higher ABV stouts, this one benefits from sitting in the glass and warming to room temperature. The tingling from the pepper and cinnamon are even more pronounced at this point and flavors explode together with more strength

Xocoveza is an outstanding, potent stout that is perfect for the cold months considering the spices infused in the beer. After homebrewer Chris Banker won the Stone competition in 2014, this beer became a seasonal release for Stone. Since I tried it this year, it will be a seasonal must buy for me.

Highly Recommended, link to Untappd 4.25-star rating.

A final aside, this was the first beer I had whose bottle was graced with the Independent Craft Beer Logo (below).