Beer Review: Hardywood Park’s Gingerbread Stout

Name: Gingerbread Stout
Brewing Company: Hardywood Park Craft Brewery
Location: Richmond, VA
Style: Stout – Imperial / Double Milk | Imperial Milk Stout with Ginger and Honey
ABV: 9.2%

Christmas in a Glass – it has been said about this beer by others, but it is no less true. A delicious, iconic stout that is a must have during the Yuletide season.

Hardywood_GingerbreadStout

From the Hardywood’s landing page for the beer:

Made with baby ginger from Casselmonte Farm and wildflower honey from Bearer Farms, Hardywood Gingerbread Stout captures the terroir of Central Virginia in a rich, creamy libation with a velvety mouthfeel and an intriguing evolution of notes from milk chocolate and vanilla, to honeycomb and cinnamon, to a snap of ginger in the finish. We hope Hardywood Gingerbread Stout contributes to your merriment this season.

I’ve been circling around this beer for a few years now, going back to 2019 when I featured the beer in that year’s Christmas Six Pack before Hardywood began sending their beers into New Jersey. Just a year later, that changed when Hardywood beers begain appearing on NJ shelves. Since then, I’ve had a few variants: Christmas Morning, Barrel-Aged/Kentucky Christmas Morning, and last year, the Barrel-Aged version of this beer. Now, at last I finally picked up a four-pack of a beer many people put on the “Mount Rushmore” of Christmas Beers.

That’s quite a bit of preamble with perhaps some unfair expectations set on the beer, I realize. Be that as it may, I’ll dive into the beer…

Pop of the can and the beer pours jet black into my Delirium Noël glass. I get strong aroma of ginger coming off the beer, along with cinnamon. In other words, the beer very much smells like gingerbread cookies and Christmas.

I take a sip and gingerbread is the most prominent element of the beer. Shocking, I know. The same is true for the beer itself, very heavy on the ginger, which is to be expected. If you have the least bit of a problem with ginger or gingerbread, don’t go near this beer. Me? I like ginger (the tea I drink has ginger in it) and gingerbread cookies so this is all fine by me. There’s also a prominent cinnamon element to the beer, which nicely compliments the ginger.

My wife leaves out Gingerbread cookies for Santa Claus on Christmas Eve so the aroma and flavor of Gingerbread cookies is one of the elements I most associate with Christmas. As I tasted and enjoyed more of the beer, that Christmas in a Glass theme really hits home. An element of the beer that stands out as the beer warms and I get beyond that wonderful gingerbread element is the honey. Ginger is a potent spice/root that can be quite aggressive, fortunately, isn’t overly aggressive here and that may be due to the generous amount of honey in the beer. That natural sweetness that pleasantly balances out the ginger.

The milk sugar further brings the sweet balance to the beer, plus the lactose adds a silky smooth feel to the beer. The combination of flavors also evokes hints of chocolate and vanilla for a perfect Christmas dessert beer. Bottom Line: The beer lived up to be what I hoped it would be.

Highly Recommended, link to 4.25 bottle cap untappd rating check in.

Beer Review: Flying Monkeys The Chocolate Manifesto

Name: The Chocolate Manifesto – Triple Chocolate Milk Stout
Brewing Company: Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery
Location: Barrie, ON, Canada
Style: Stout – Imperial / Double Milk
ABV: 10%

A decadent, dessert sipper that will delight chocolate lover’s taste buds. A top-level Chocolate Milk Stout.

FlyingMonkeys_TripleChocolateManifesto

From Flying Monkey’s landing page for the beer:

For those seeking decadence and transcendence in a craft beer, we bring you The Chocolate Manifesto Triple Chocolate Milk Stout, a luxurious beer that demands to be shared among friends. With 3 kinds of chocolate, this beer is a euphoric detour from the mundane. Life is too short to brew beer that doesn’t matter to you.

With International Stout Day falling on the first Thursday in November, I knew I wanted to try a new Stout. I’ve been seeing this particular Canadian brew on shelves for a couple of years now, it has some good ratings, so I figured, let’s get chocolatey for Stout Day.

I had a taster of one beer from Flying Monkeys (love the name) at a beer fest a couple of years ago, so this is my first full beer from the brewery.

Into the glass the beer goes…out of the can it looks like liquid dark chocolate – a brown that is almost black – with a thin khaki/light brown head. Visually, a very appealing beer. I take a whiff of the beer and I smell malts and chocolate…again, so far, so good.

The first sip of The Chocolate Manifesto puts a smile on my face. I get a lot of chocolate up front, which is what I expected. There’s more chocolate, a layered and leveled chocolate, if you will. Imagine a lovely piece of chocolate, wrapped in another kind of chocolate, and a third kind of chocolate surrounds all of it. I didn’t have to imagine that, because that’s what I tasted in this beer.

From the initial sweet chocolate, there’s a slightly bittersweet finish on the beer which I welcomed and enjoyed. The people of Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery have managed to coax a breadth of chocolate flavors from multiple ingredients in this beer. It is a pleasant, warming spectrum of flavors

At 10% ABV, this is a big Imperial stout, but the booziness is minimal. You know it is a beer, but you aren’t hit over the head with the alcohol, which I appreciated. As I will always say with higher ABV beers, the flavors of The Chocolate Manifesto open up and breathe as the beer warms. The balance of sweet and bittersweet is a little more nuanced when the temperature of the beer rises and it just tastes a little bit better once it warms to room temperature.

I’m reminded, a bit, of River Horse Brewing’s Chocolate Porter with how balanced the chocolate component of this beer is. I’ve had just over a 100 Milk Stouts and this one is comfortably in the top half of that list and it ranks as one of the best Chocolate Milk stouts I’ve had. This one is worth seeking out and given that Flying Monkey’s is a decent-sized Canadian brewery, it shouldn’t be too much of a challenge to track down.

Recommended, link to 4.25 bottle cap untappd rating check in.

Untapped badges earned with this beer:

Stout Day (2022)

Let’s give a big shout out to the stout. Whether with coffee, barrel-aged or chock full of candy bars, stouts are seriously delicious. Pick your favorite and toast to International Stout Day 2022!

The Great White North (Level 4)

Out on the pond for some ice fishing, or perhaps watching some hockey, eh? That’s 20 beers from a brewery in Canada!

2X (Level 76)

When a single isn’t enough, make it a double. Doubling the hops and malts in a recipe results in a higher ABV and can pack quite a boozey punch. That’s 380 different beers with the style that contains Imperial / Double in its style name.

FlyingMonkeys_TripleChocolateManifesto

Beer Review: Czig Meister’s 6th Anniversary Imperial Stout

Name: 6th Anniversary Imperial Stout
Brewing Company: Czig Meister Brewing Company
Location: Hackettstown, NJ
Style: Stout – Double / Imperial Oatmeal
ABV: 11%

The best beer Czig Meister has brewed, the best Oatmeal Stout I’ve ever had, and a damned fine beer to represent their 6th Anniversary in business.

CzigMeister_6thAnniv

From the untappd page for the beer:

This year’s blend comprises of 5 Elijah Craig barrels ranging from 8-12 years in age. Each barrel held imperial stout for anywhere from 9-18 months. After barrel aging, the blend was furthered conditioned on nearly 1lb per bbl of Vanuatu Vanilla. Expect marshmallow, coconut, intense vanilla ice cream, bourbon, and brownie batter. Enjoyed best at 50°F.

Czig Meister is one of the breweries who makes fairly frequent appearances here at the Tap Takeover. With their 6th Anniversary a couple of weeks ago (June 11), I made the trip to the brewery since I’ve attended most of their Anniversary bashes or at least had their anniversary beer (like their 4th Anniversary when COVID cancelled the party). As it so happened, beer also put me beyond the “50 beers from the brewery” territory, which has been happening fairly frequently with my favorite breweries as of late. I’ve enjoyed just about all the beers I’ve had from the great Hackettstown brewery, but even the nearly 50 beers before this one didn’t prepare me for the beer I had that day.

The beer I’m handed is fairly thick and black as night, just what I want from a barrel-aged, blended Imperial stout. The aroma wafting into my nose is a mix of bourbon and roasted malts. Maybe there’s vanilla hiding in the aroma, too. Or maybe I was thinking that because I knew it was in the beer.

The first sip from the cup…is simply divine. A little heat, but a strong stout with barrel notes. There’s quite a bit in that sip and I’m very much looking forward to having more to explore the nuances of barrel character and addition of vanilla .

As I take further sips, that silky smooth character envelopes my palate like a luxurious blanket. The barrel character emerges more prominently, but *perfectly* accentuates the roasted malts of the beer rather than overpowers the flavor profile. Those elements by themselves would make this a world-class Imperial Stout, but then the Vanuatu Vanilla emerges. The only other beer I’ve had with Vanilla from that particular part of the world is Conclave’s Sable, I liked it in that beer and it is deployed flawlessly in this beer, too. It isn’t overpowering and like the barrel and blending portion of the show, is outstanding. What Matt Czigler has done with the gestalt of the base beer, barrel aging, blending, and Vanilla is surreal and sublime. I shouldn’t be surprised since Matt (as I noted in my spotlight on Czig Meister way back in 2018) spent time at Kane helping to develop a couple of their most highly regarded dark beers – A Night to End All Dawns and Morning Bell.

I was totally blown away by this beer, it was more than I expected to be and everything I hope to taste in a barrel-aged, blended stout. The beer is available in limited distribution in New Jersey in cans.

Congratulations to Matt Czigler, his family, and his crew on 6 years of brewing delicious beer. I haven’t had a bad beer from the brewery and this beer is a wonderful statement of their quality. If you’re within driving distance of Hackettstown, the brewery is more than worth the visit.

Highly Recommended, link to 4.75 bottle cap untappd rating check in.

Beer Review: Drake’s Brewing’s Amburana Death of the Sun (2022)

Name: Amburana Death of the Sun (2022 Vintage)
Brewing Company: Drake’s Brewing Company
Location: San Leandro, CA
Style: Stout – Double / Imperial
ABV: 12.7%

A Delicious Barrel-Aged Stout with a unique kick that sets it apart from the crowd of Barrel-Aged Stouts.

Drakes_DotS_Amburana

From the Drake’s landing page for the beer:

Death of the Sun came the day the world went black. A beast of an Imperial Stout aged for over a year in the cosmic dark of St. George Single Malt Barrels. Notes of layered malt, dark fruit, and chocolate tame its heat. A beer so good you will rejoice its perpetual darkness. Bourbon barrel aged Stout made with Amburana. Notes of chocolate and vanilla

It has been about 3 months since I posted a review of a Stout on the blog and it happened to be a barrel aged stout. Considering I’ve had more stouts than any style (according to untappd), I seem overdue for a stout review. Death of the Sun is another beer courtesy of Tavour and it is more than just a barrel-aged stout. The beer is aged with Aburana wood, which drew me to the beer. The wood, as I learned upon reading about it, lends a spicy character to whatever it touches. I was intrigued.

Drakes_DotS_Back

The first thing that impressed me was the label, very eye-catching and cosmically fantastical. That’s right in my wheelhouse in terms of imagery as longtime readers of this particular web locale will be aware. Let’s get to the actual beer inside the bottle, or rather, the beer poured from the bottle into my glass.

Pitch black liquid pours into my glass with a slight khaki-colored head. The aroma is strong of bourbon and maybe even oak. What I’m smelling reminds me of some of the better barrel-aged stouts I had, which has me hopeful.

I take the first sip and I get smooth sweet malt along with notes of bourbon. I also get some spice from the Amburana.

As I drink this beer and the level in my glass lowers, I’m really enjoying the experience. The strongest element is the barrel character, without a doubt. It isn’t subtle, and it is about a step away from being over the line and taking over the entire beer itself but doesn’t cross that line. I appreciate that kind of restraint, because I’ve had bourbon barrel aged beers from some nationally distributed breweries where all I could taste was bourbon. Knowing when and how to keep the stout/beer present without the barrel drowning out the beer elements, is the true mark of a brewer’s skill.

The finish of the beer with the Amburana wood lends an interesting layer of flavor. Hints of cinnamon elements are present, with vanilla coming through more strongly thanks to the complements of the bourbon barrel. There’s a gingerbread thing going on, too, but more of a nutmeg kick. I’m not a fan of nutmeg, those hints aren’t too overpowering. I’m left pleased with the complexity of this beer from nose to final taste and everything in between.

This is the only beer I’ve had from Drakes’ Brewing at this point, but they started small distribution into New Jersey. Largely their IPAs, but based on this beer, I’d be drawn to more beers from them.

Highly Recommended, link to 4 bottle cap untappd rating check in.

Drakes_DotS-Collage

Beer Review: Cigar City’s Marshal Zhukov’s Double Envelopment

Name: Marshal Zhukov’s Double Envelopment
Brewing Company: Cigar City Brewing
Location: Tampa, FL
Style: Stout – Double / Imperial
ABV: Tennessee Avenue Beer Hall in Atlantic City, NJ
ABV: 11.8%

An outstanding, unique barrel-aged stout that should be on every stout lovers “to find” list.

CC_MZ_DE_Collage

From the Cigar City’s landing page for the beer:

This Russian Imperial Stout is dedicated to Georgy Zhukov, arguably one of the finest generals of World War II, and to the double envelopment maneuver he utilized to trap the German army at the Battle of Stalingrad in 1942. This beer was divided between rum and sherry barrels, with the final blend being skewed just a bit heavier on the rum barrels. Rum barrels have added a pronounced spiciness and texture to the beer, while sherry barrel-aging has imparted flavors of dark cherry and blackberry. The base beer’s recipe has been tweaked a bit over the last few years, with some of the roastiness taking a back seat to dark chocolate flavors and sweetness. Other than that, it’s a straightforward barrel-aged version of Zhukov’s. .

Marshal Zhukov’s is Cigar City’s flagship Stout, a Russian Imperial Stout as it so happens. Like many breweries tend to do for special releases, they take this stout and age it some oak barrels. But not the typical Bourbon barrels, the folks at Cigar City decided blend two versions, the rum barrel-aged and sherry barrel-aged to create something unique. Or at least I suppose that is the aim of such a brewing and blended stout.

What are the results?

The beer is very dark, as is expected. The aroma is very pleasant and inviting, I smell a sweet booziness with the sherry a little more prominent than the rum. I’m not a sherry drinker by any means, but I really like the aroma of this beer.

The first taste blows me away. The roasted malt elements of the stout are potent and pleasing, but the barrel character emerges very pleasantly. The rum brings the added sweetness. With rum being fermented and distilled from sugar, that makes sense. Then the sherry element comes in, which brings maybe a hint of dryness, a little bit of a sweet almost sour tang? Not unpleasant by any means, quite the opposite!

Since this is an 11.8% stout, I take my time with the beer. Being in a cool bar with a good friend and good food on the way, I was real happy to just relax and enjoy this complex beer. As it warms, the barrel characteristics become more prominent, but they don’t drown out the base elements of the stout. The barrel elements blend into one, dynamic flavor adjunct that is extremely pleasing, the sweetness from the rum barrel is complemented by some of the dried fruit elements in the sherry character.

This beer is one of the more unique barrel-aged stouts I’ve ever had. If I can have any slight on the beer, and it is minor, it is that the body was slightly thin. Not what I’d expect from such a high ABV stout.

I haven’t had too many brews from Cigar City (I’ve liked what I’ve had), and only a beer or two aged in these kinds of barrels and definitely not a blend of beers aged in these kinds of barrels. In other words, I don’t have a beer to compare this against, in exacting terms, so I’ll just say this. Marshal Zhukov’s Double Envelopment is a dynamite stout, it possesses the great elements of a high ABV stout, but the two barrels used in the construction of the final beer bring something new and unique to the liquid. This is a beer well-worth seeking out.

Bottles of the beer are available only through Cigar City’s El Catador Club, which is their Members Only barrel-aged beer club. Somehow, a keg of the beer made its way to the Tennessee Avenue Beer Hall in Atlantic City, NJ, where I enjoyed the beer before enjoying a night of All Elite Wrestling Dynamite with a good friend over at Boardwalk Hall.

Highly Recommended, link to 4.5 bottle cap untappd rating check in.

Beyond a Shadow of a Stout (Level 81)

We all love Stouts, and now we have a dedicated badge to celebrate your dedication to these dark, top-fermented beer in multiple variations, like Oatmeal, Milk and more! Which one will you start with? That’s 405 different beers with the style of Stout.

CC_MZ_DE_Collage

Beer Review: Wystouti from Sunken Silo Brew Works

Name: Wystouti
Brewing Company: Sunken Silo Brew Works
Location: Lebanon, NJ
Style: Stout – American
ABV: 6.8%

A well-made American stout that doesn’t rely on adjuncts for its tasty flavor profile.

SunkenSilo_Wystouti

From the Sunken Silo’s Our Beers page:

We honor Joe senior with a riff on his name. A whiff of coffee and chocolate with a silky-smooth mouthfeel. ON NITRO

Sunken Silo Brew Works has been open for about 2 years, I visited just before the pandemic and given how close they are to me, I figured it was about time I made another visit. They are also part of the Hunterdon Beer Trail, which might be a feature post later this week. As for this beer, they only had it on a nitro tap, which I often feel drowns out the flavor of the beer, but I was in the mood for a stout. So how did Wystouti work for me?

After a slightly slow pour, the beer placed in front of me looks very inviting. The creamy looking khaki head topping off the dark stout is a picture-perfect beer.

Diving in, I get the mouthfeel of the Nitro immediately. The fluffiness is pleasant. Then the taste follows, which is what I expect from a Stout, mostly. Roasted malts. But wait, there’s more!

I’m getting some other flavors, unexpected flavors, but good nonetheless. There’s the expected evocation of coffee and hints of chocolate from the roasted malts. But there’s a berry-like sweetness on the backend of the beer. More of a hint of berries, I’d say, a nice surprise and pleasant overall.

Maybe the thing I most appreciate about this beer is how straight-forward it is. It seems there are far more stouts with some kind of adjunct (chocolate, peanut butter, marshmallow, lactose, coffee, etc), so a stout that gains its flavor from the core four ingredients? Seems like a novel concept these days, but you can count me in. Especially if the beer is as well-made and tasty as Wystouti is.

Wystouti is a terrific stout, although ’d like to try the non-Nitro version. Sunken Silo let a batch sit in bourbon barrels for 9 months to celebrate their 2nd birthday. Next time I visit the brewery, I may have to grab a bottle of it.

Recommended, link to 4 bottle cap untappd rating check in.

Untapped badges earned with this beer:

Smooth as Silk (Level 2)

That extra smooth mouth-feel you just experienced is all thanks to the thousands of tiny bubbles created by infused nitrogen. Yum! Check-in 10 times with the serving style of Nitro.

SunkenSilo_Wystouti

Beer Review: The Alementary’s Laniakea (2020)

Name: Laniakea
Brewing Company: The Alementary
Location: Hackensack, NJ
Style: Stout – Russian Imperial
Location Consumed: Paragon Tap & Table, Clark, NJ
ABV: 9.5%

The Alementary’s take on the Barrel Aged Russian Imperial Stout is a delicious blend of flavors

Alementary_Laniakea

Description of the beer:

Laniakea is our famous bourbon barrel-aged imperial stout… made just once a year, and every year is in different barrels. This year we got some amazing Woodford Reserve barrels to perfectly complement this 10% ABV monster. Notes of dark fruits, vanilla, caramel, toffee, chocolate, and roasty coffee abound—all contributed solely by the use of premium British malts and these gorgeous bourbon barrels. It’s the perfect thing for helping you face the first winter storm of the year.

Two weeks in a row with Russian Imperial Stouts, I know. I wasn’t expecting to review this beer, but it is a beer from The Alementary I’ve been wanting to try for a couple of years. This is a more traditional Russian Imperial Stout in the sense that nothing is added, but it is aged in bourbon barrels. Russian Imperial Stouts lend themselves quite nicely to barrel aging, which is why so many breweries throw this big black beers in oak barrels.

So what do we have here from The Alementary?

I’m handed a beer that is very black, maybe not as quite as black as the last RIS I reviewed last week, but still very much looks the part of a big Russian Imperial Stout. Bourbon is strong on the nose, which is quite inviting.

The first sip is extremely tasty. I get all of the stout/malty elements of the beer including the hallmark “bite” of a Russian Imperial Stout. The bourbon barrel adds a nice shot of heat at the end. The more I sip from the glass, the more the complexity of the beer emerges.

Alementary_LaniakeaBottle
Image courtesy of The Alementary’s Facebook

This is a delicious beer, first and foremost. Like a lot of beers aged in some kind of wood, hints of vanilla emerge. Those hints complements the inherit coffee elements that come from the malts in a Russian Imperial Stout. There might be some other hint of flavor present, maybe chocolate? I say that because I get hints of chocolate from may big stouts and I think that’s what I’m tasting here. Whatever it is, the balance of flavor elements from the roasted malt – chocolate and coffee – play extremely nicely with the barrel characteristics of bourbon and vanilla. I took my time with this beer and was rewarded.

I enjoyed this during a birthday dinner with my parents, they each had a sip and liked it quite a bit, too. Hands down, this is the best beer I’ve had from The Alementary.

How does this compare to other Bourbon Barrel Aged Russian Imperial Stouts? Quite nicely, maybe a little shy of the best of the best. That’s not to say Laniakea is a bad beer, it is very good. This is a beer I’d seek out again and recommend seeking out. I had it on draft at Paragon Tap & Table in Clark, NJ, but bottles of this should be available in relatively limited quantities in The Alementary’s NJ distribution footprint.

Highly Recommended, link to 4.25 bottle cap untappd rating check in.

Alementary_Laniakea

Beer Review: Weyerbacher Brewing’s TINY

Name: TINY
Brewing Company: Weyerbacher Brewing Company
Location: Easton, PA
Style: Stout – Imperial/Double | “Belgian-Style Imperial Stout”
ABV: 11.8%

A big, boozy stout that is unique in the style, blending Belgian and American influences very admirably.

Weyerbacher_Tiny_01

From the untapped page for the beer:

Tiny is a Belgian inspired Imperial Stout weighing in at 11.8% abv. You’ll find big chocolate and roasted notes, balanced with the Belgian flavors from the Abbey yeast strain. This beer is very smooth and lacks the astringency you sometimes find in these big Imperial Stouts.

It has been quite a while since I’ve had a beer from the landmark, independent Pennsylvania brewery. In the early 2000s, Weyerbacher was a consistent go-to for me, even beyond their iconic Imperial Pumpkin Ale. I’d been in the mood for a relatively straight-forward, new to me Imperial Stout, and TINY is one of the prominent, maybe almost-flagship beers from Weyerbacher.

Let’s get to the beer whose name is in cognitive dissonance with the liquid in the bottle/glass.

Expectedly, TINY pours black as night. There’s a thickness to the beer that hints at a substantial beer. The aroma is slightly different than the standard roasted malt, maybe a little sweeter? This beer being a “Belgian-inspired” stout, the yeast likely gives it that added layer of complexity.

My first taste is heavy on the roasted malt with a great deal of sweetness. Most of the beers I’ve had from Weyerbacher lean on the sweet side and this one is no different, and keeping that in mind, it is a good level of sweetness. It isn’t cloying, rather, it is pleasing. As with the aroma, the yeast brings something unique to the overall flavor profile. Can’t say what exactly that is, but there’s an element of fruitiness? Whatever it was, I liked it.

I had a second bottle a couple of nights later and the fruitiness I mentioned in the previous paragraph comes through slightly more on the initial taste of the beer. Again, I couldn’t quite pinpoint it, but I suspect the yeast evokes some hints of maybe banana? Maybe hints of raisin? I don’t know exactly what to call it other than something I like.

As I said, the name of the beer is definitely a misnomer, because the booziness of the 11.8% ABV is definitely evident. It isn’t off-putting, but rather it is a presence that lets you know the beer should be sipped, appreciated, and enjoyed in its full-flavored glory.

Early in the timeline of the Tap Takeover, I reviewed Allagash’s Black which is similar to this beer in some ways. Both beers are have their roots in Belgian-style beers whose flavors come primarily from the yeast utilized in the brewing process. However, with Weyerbacher’s TINY there’s more of an American influence with the malt, and overall stout profile. Comparison to Allagash Black aside, TINY is a relatively unique, imperial stout.

It has been a while since I’ve said this of a big beer, but TINY most definitely benefits from warming a bit to room temperature. The complex flavors expand and come alive even more.

As it so happens, TINY topped me out for the Heavyweight Badge on untappd, essentially the dark beer badge. What does that mean? Well, as the description below badge indicates, I’ve had 500 beers categorized as either porter or stout.

Highly Recommended, link to 4 bottle cap untappd rating check in.

Untapped badges earned with this beer:

Heavyweight (Level 100)

Porters and Stouts are rich with both history and flavor. Roasty, dark, and delicious, these two styles helped start it all. That’s 500 different beers with the style of Porter or Stout. You have reached the top!!.

Weyerbacher_Tiny_02

Beer Review: Untied Brewing’s Raspberry Decadent Darkness

Name: Decadent Darkness (2021 Raspberry)
Brewing Company: Untied Brewing Company
Location: New Providence, NJ
Style: Stout – Pastry
ABV: 12.2%

An outstanding pastry/dessert stout that elegantly balances adjuncts with the beer elements.

Untied-DD-Rasp-F

From the untapped page for the beer:

Imperial Pastry Stout conditioned with raspberries, vanilla, and cacao nibs.

I’ve been visiting Untied Brewing every couple of months, and most recently, I decided to pick up one of their pastry stouts. A few months prior, I met my dad there for Father’s Day and he got a small pour of this beer. I tasted and I enjoyed it so I wanted to have a full sampling/bottle for myself. I was impressed with their Russian Imperial Stout both times I had it, so between the sip I had previously and my experience with, hell, most of their beers, I thought I’d enjoy this one in its full glory. Those speculations were well-founded.

The beer pours thick black, or so it would seem. When I gave the beer a closer examination under the light, there was a deep red tint to the dark liquid, obviously from the raspberries.

Those raspberries take center stage in this beer, they are strong in the aroma and a first sip gives me more of that raspberry flavor. With the 12.2% ABV, sipping this beer is the way to go, so you can allow the flavors to wake up as the beer warms up. Anyway, why would you want to chug a beer with that big of an ABV.

I get chocolate hints as I enjoy more of the beer, almost like chocolate covered raspberries. Owner Matt and company really got the name correct with this beer, it is enormously decadent. What impresses me the most about this beer is that the beer elements, particularly the roasted malt that gives stouts their flavor, are not overtaken (too much) by the potent raspberry and chocolate elements.

The only flavor that doesn’t come through, to me, is the vanilla. I suppose the vanilla is more of a balancing element for the strong raspberry and chocolate flavors making this beee an ideal dessert stout.

Untied has brewed/bottled other variants of this “Decadent Darkness” line of pastry stouts – Chocolate & Peanut Butter, Chocolate, Coconut, Vanilla), Mocha, and Raspberry & Coconut, which all seem as if they are as decadent as their name would imply. Bottom line, I’ve been enjoying every beer I had from Untied Brewing and this one is no exception.

Highly Recommended, link to 4.25 bottle cap untappd rating check in.

Untapped badges earned with this beer:

 

Dessert Time! (Level 2)

Marshmallow, chocolate, apple pie! Cakes and cookies catch my eye. Churn that butter, twist and shout. Put it in a pastry stout! That’s 10 different beers with the style of Stout – Pastry, Stout – Imperial / Double Pastry. Check-in to 5 more to get to Level 3.

Untied_DD-Raspb-Backl

Beer Review: Conclave Brewing’s Sable

Name: Sable
Brewing Company: Conclave Brewing Company
Location: Flemington, NJ
Style: Stout – Imperial / Double
ABV: 11.3%

“A big flavorful stout from one of the brewing gems of the Great Garden State.”

From the description of the beer on untappd:

Ever since we moved to the new brewery we wanted to brew a big stout – Sable is it! Formulated with a Maris Otter base, a lot of flaked oats and a bevy of roasted malts, we came pretty close to maxing out the system. On top of that we conditioned it on the most amazing vanilla beans from Vanuatu. It’s a rich intense brew with big complex flavors and a warming finish.

Just before the Pandemic took hold of the world in early 2020, Conclave Brewing moved one building over to a larger facility that allowed for ramped up production. They doubled their tap list and started more crowler and can releases. Many of those have been IPAs, but I was hoping they’d release a new stout and or dark beer. Sable is that beer, as they state in the description, this beer needed the larger capacity to brew and as such, Sable my first new beer review of 2021. Conclave has proven that their measured approach to brewing pays off in this big stout.

Conclave’s IPAs are popular and beloved and while I’ve enjoyed just about every IPA I’ve had from them, as readers of this blog are aware, I have always been more of a dark beer drinker. Conclave’s stouts and porters are outstanding; Mexican Morning, Mexican Evening, and Espresso Morning Stout are just superb and their Vanilla Porter, Grey Havens from a couple of years ago was delightful. In other words, I was very excited to get a growler fill of this beer

I opened the growler the day after I bought the beer but it still held up with some carbonation for a thin head. Overall, the blackness of the beer screams Imperial Stout. Aroma? Check…I get some of that vanilla overlaying the roasted malt.

My first thought about this beer is how it resonates with one of my favorite stouts, Sierra Nevada’s Narwhal Imperial Stout. The big roasted malt element and the potent hops are similar in a lot of good ways. Then that vanilla slides into the flavor profile, and brings a welcome element to balance out the big dose of hops. I imagine if Sierra Nevada made a Vanilla variant of Narwhal (maybe they have), it might taste similar to Sable from Conclave.

Most of the beer I’ve been seeing and enjoying with Vanilla highlights the island of Madagascar as origin of the Vanilla . I’d never heard of Vanuatu before this beer, but it is an island in the South Pacific. That factoid doesn’t really have too much play on the taste of the beer, just more of an anecdote. Anyway, what I appreciate most about the Vanilla component is that it comes through just a shade more potent than subtle. What does that mean? The Vanilla doesn’t scream at you the way I’ve experienced in some beers, but rather a natural element of the beer.

I managed to enjoy the full 32oz half-growler over the course of the evening and would welcome more of this beer in the future.

Sable is a bold, potent announcement of a beer from Conclave that proclaims, “Yeah, we do great IPAs, but don’t forget our Stouts are as equally delicious!”

Recommended, link to Untappd 4-bottle cap rating.