Beer Review: Sierra Nevada’s Barrel-Aged Narwhal

Name: Barrel-Aged Narwhal
Brewing Company: Sierra Nevada Brewing Company
Location: Chico, CA
Style: Stout – American Imperial/Double
ABV: 11.9%

An outstanding base stout aged in Kentucky Bourbon Barrels makes for a perfect beer.

From Sierra Nevada’s page for the beer:

Deep in our barrel room, out of light’s reach, our legendary Narwhal Imperial Stout rests in bourbon barrels for nearly a year. After aging, it emerges anew: rich with notes of oak, vanilla and coconut layered onto the Stout’s malt flavors of dark chocolate and espresso. Enjoy this beast of a beer.

This is a beer I’ve been hunting down for quite some time, basically since I knew it existed, because the annual big stout from Sierra Nevada is one of my top 10 beers of all time. Sometimes, the timing of things lead to serendipitous posts like this one: 2020 is Sierra Nevada’s 40th Anniversary, Sierra Nevada recently made this beer a year-round offering, and this beer is my 50th unique Sierra Nevada beer checked into untappd, so how could I *not* review this beer?

As much as I was looking forward to this beer for years, I’ve also come to realize not all barrel-aged beers are blended/created equal. Additionally, I hadn’t had anything barrel-aged from Sierra Nevada. In short, I was worried that anticipation would lead to disappointment

It did not.

This beer pours motor-oil black, with a khaki/heavily creamed coffee head. As for the body of the beer, I’d even say there’s something about this beer that’s so black, it’s like how much more black could this beer be? And the answer is none. None more black.

The aroma is largely from the bourbon barrels, but I do detect the hoppy/malty aromas I would typically associate with the non-Barrel Aged Narwhal. I thought to myself, “I’ve got a good feeling about this.”

That first sip is everything I hoped it would be. The barrel elements are very prominent and assertive, but far from everything this beer is. The base beer doesn’t typically have an overbearing carbonation and the carbonation is even less present on Barrel Aged Narwhal. In addition to the barrel character, the beer is largely the character I’d come to expect from the base Narwhal stout – big malt imparting sweetness, prominent hops imparting a bitter bite with subtle vanilla hints for a warm, balanced, grin-inducing finish that lingers wonderfully.

The flavor elements imparted by the Kentucky Bourbon Barrels **perfectly** enhance and complement the flavor elements of the base beer – the hops which can be relatively aggressive on a fresh in-year* bottle, are tamed and smoothed by the beer having been aged in the barrel. The hops are definitely present, but the lingering bitterness is softened. The barrel aging also complements the sweetness from the malt with hints of vanilla, oak, and maybe coconut.

* By “in-year” bottle I mean drinking a 2019 vintage of the beer in 2019, as opposed to a bottle that has sat for months to a year. I’ve had a couple bottles of Narwhal that were aged 2 and 3 years.

Something that makes this beer such a fun beer to enjoy is that the base beer Narwhal is fairly readily available for comparison. I’ve had Bourbon County Stout from AB InBev Chicago (A.K.A. Goos Island) but there’s no base beer available, same goes for So Happens Its Tuesday from the Bruery or even Parabola from Firestone Walker. In other words, you have a pretty good idea that you’re starting with in this beer.

I’ve always loved the label and font Sierra Nevada used for the beer for Narwhal, I was unhappy with the change they made in 2017 so I was pleased to see the same font treatment from the old label of the non-barrel aged version reappear on this canned version (and box of the 4-pack). I was especially pleased to see this beer go from the 22oz bomber to 16oz cans, a much easier single-sitting consumption.

Barrel-Aged Narwhal is an outstanding, world-class barrel-aged stout that I’d stand up against any other barrel-aged stout I’ve had or that is available. Given that price point, you will not find a better beer of this style (Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout, or even Imperial Stout) for this price point.

For further reading, there’s a great post on Sierra Nevada’s Blog about their barrel-aging program.

Highly, highly recommended, link to 5 bottle-cap Untappd check in.

Beer Review: Bolero Snort French Toast Bergen County Bull Stout

Name: French Toast Bergen County Bull Stout
Brewing Company: Bolero Snort Brewery
Location: Ridgefield Park, NJ
Style: Stout – Pastry
ABV: 10.3%

A delicious “pastry” stout with several adjuncts that strikes a perfect balance between those various elements.

From Bolero Snort’s Bergen County Bull Stout 2019 page:

🍁 🥞 French Toast Bergen County Bull Stout 🥞🍁 a brand new variant for 2019 Barrel Aged Imperial Stout with Maple, Cinnamon, Cocoa and Madagascar Vanilla 🤤.

Bolero Snort has been a NJ mainstay for a about a half-dozen years now, they’ve garnered a following and reputation without having a home base, they’ve been a contract brewery since their inception. That all should be changing by the end of 2019 as their brewery/taproom (which will be the 12th largest in the State) finally opens. Over the years, they’ve been releasing a big stout around Thanksgiving, which they call Bergen County Bull Stout. Anytime a bovinely inspired pun can be inserted, it will happen. Furthering the pun, so to speak, the initials of that beer are BCBS, four letters which should ring a bell for beer people.  As for the beer itself, the base of Bergen County Bull Stout is a barrel-aged imperial stout and each year, the Bolero boys brew a couple of different varieties. This year’s new variant is French Toast, which contains maple syrup and cinnamon as the prominent adjuncts with additional flavors of cocoa, Madagascar Vanilla, and lactose.

This was a very limited release as is the full complement of Bergen County Bull Stout variants, so I was happy to get a bottle since most stores were permitting only one bottle per customer. The bottle sports a nice label, cool font for the beer name, with the newly fashioned and stylized “BS” logo (as seen to the right) front and center. One last note on the packaging, I really appreciate that this is a 500ml bottle as opposed to what was once a standard, the 750ml bottle. 500ml is slightly more than a pint and is just enough for one person to consume on their own.

The beer pours almost obsidian and the aroma coming from the beer has my mouth watering. I get the full flavor-smell of French Toast – cinnamon, maple, and even that pleasant eggy-bread aroma. My only concern before taking the first sip is that it might be too sweet.

This is a complex beer…I need to put that up front as if that wasn’t obvious. The eggy-bread aroma of French Toast is present in the taste with the bourbon hints from the barrel making their way through everything. I also tasted ample amounts of cinnamon and maple syrup, too. The beer is most definitely a stout, the adjuncts don’t diminish the stout elements of the beer at all. The vanilla is a little toned down, which is welcome because especially Madagascar Vanilla can overpower other flavors to a negative degree. Here in the French Toast variant of Bergen County Bull Stout, the Madagascar Vanilla complements the cinnamon and maple and sits very nicely with the overall “French Toast” profile on the finish of the beer.

This beer is full-flavored, full bodied and boozy. As I said, the character of the bourbon barrel seeps through the whole of the beer, it isn’t intrusive but rather complements all the other additives Bob Olson and crew have thrown in the mix for this beer. Earlier I said I was concerned that the beer might be too sweet. Well, the beer is most definitely sweet but not to a cloying degree.

Pastry Stout (or dessert stout) has emerged as a distinct style over the past few years and this beer definitely falls into that category. I’ve had a few other beers that emulate breakfast meals like pancakes and bacon, but the French Toast variant of Bergen County Bull Stout is probably my favorite and most balanced I’ve had along these lines. A beer that has the flavor components of that rich, dessert-like breakfast while still retaining the stout qualities that give the beer it’s primary character.

The full “range” of Bergen County Stouts released in 2019. Image courtesy of Bolero Snort’s Web site

I’ve been really enjoying Bolero Snort’s output over the past year or two. For my birthday my wife took me to a beer pairing dinner at a local restaurant which was great experience – delicious food and tasty beer with an excellent host/ambassador in Adrian from Bolero Snort. Say one thing about Bolero Snort, they’ve never shied away from the flavor adjuncts and this beer is proof that their skills are well up to their ambition. This beer is probably the best I’ve had from them. As their motto says, that is No BS, just ragin’ good beer.

Highly recommended, link to 4.5 bottle-cap Untappd check in.

Beer Review: Asbury Park Brewery’s Roasted Stout

Name: Roasted Stout
Brewing Company: Asbury Park Brewery
Location: Asbury Park, NJ
Style: Stout – Irish Dry
ABV: 4.9%

From Asbury Park Brewery’s beer page:

A dry Irish style stout with mild sweetness and notes of coffee and chocolate imparted by roasted malts and flaked oats.

There’s something almost quaint about naming a beer with the simple descriptor of “Roasted Stout” in this day and age of independent/craft brewing. The brewers at Asbury Park Brewing Company may have been thinking along those lines, I would venture to guess. Simple, straightforward, and to the point. That isn’t always a bad thing. Rather, in the case of this beer, that’s a good thing.

Like a stout should, Asbury Park’s Roasted Stout pours a deep black. Not too much of an aroma, so a quick sip tells me much of what I need to know. This tastes like a stout, shockingly. I’d even say this could be the ideal stout to give somebody who wants to know what a stout should taste like.

But why would I say this is an “ideal stout?” Well, first off is that aforementioned color. Second, the balance of roast, sweet, and bitter is quite even. Flavors of roasted malts are expected from a stout. Sometimes that roasty flavor can turn to burnt flavor, but not here with Asbury Park’s Roasted Stout. The sweetness from those malts evokes chocolate, some coffee, maybe even a hint of toffee and just a wonderful flavor that finishes slightly dry. Functionally, at least for me, the flavor profile was effective in that it encouraged me to drink more and more. If anything, the beer exceeded my expectations and was more flavorful than I expected it to be.

This is almost a session stout, given the low ABV which is only a little higher than Guinness Stout. Much as I enjoy Guinness, I found the Roasted Stout from Asbury Park Brewery to be a little more flavorful and maybe a little sweeter. As more and more breweries pop up in the US in general, and in the US specifically, locals will gravitate to those breweries. Having a clean, tasty stout is a must and Asbury Park Brewery have solid, dependable stout in their portfolio. Quite simply, Asbury Park Brewery’s Roasted Stout delivers exactly what you’d want in a roasted stout.

As the badge I earned indicates, I had this beer on Stout Day (which is in its 8th year and usually falls on the first Thursday of November) and this was an absolute perfect beer to have on the day. I’d say that’s as about as good a recommendation as one could get for a stout.

Recommended link to Untappd 4 Bottle Cap rating.

Untapped badges earned with this beer: Stout Day (2018)

Stout Day (2018)

International Stout Day is dedicated to this namesake bold, malty, and historically rich style of beer. First brewed in the late 1600’s, this style has a long history well worth raising a toast to!

 

Beer Review: Left Hand 25th Anniversary

Name: 25th Anniversary
Brewing Company: Left Hand Brewing Company
Location: Longmont, CO
Style: Stout –Imperial / Double
ABV: 12.1%

From Left Hand’s page for the beer

Assertive notes of dark chocolate, cherries and roasted coffee beans with a smooth warming finish.

In 1993 we set out to change the world one pint at a time. For 25 years we have forged an independent path, building a stronger community and creating an employee-owned company founded on brewing the best beer we can make. Cheers for supporting us at Left hand and independent craft beer.

25 years is quite a long time to be in the brewing business, outside of the multinational macro brewers. Left Hand Brewing is one of the old guard of Colorado breweries, having been at the forefront of the Western American Craft beer movement since 1993. They’ve brewed some iconic beers like Sawtooth Ale and Milk Stout and the innovative Nitro brand that began with Milk Stout Nitro, the beer for which they are likely best known. So, for an anniversary ale, they decided to go with an Imperial Stout.

This one pours dark with a khaki head. Closer examination reveals colors that hint at crimson and deep red. The aroma, to be honest, doesn’t stand out too much. I mean, it smells like a well-made stout with some roasted coffee notes, but I don’t get the cherries. In other words, it smells like other stouts I’ve enjoyed in the past.

First sip is fairly complex – roasted malts, some cocoa with a hint of cherry sweetness. It immediately put a smile on my face. A few more sips and I get the full taste; dark/bittersweet chocolate dominates the palate. The coffee is still hinted, but the cherry flavor is a nice undercurrent providing a sweetness that offsets the bittersweet chocolate. It doesn’t feel too much like a 12.1% beer in the body, but there’s definitely some heat/booziness from that high ABV.

This stout drinks a little better as it approaches room temperature, with the cherry notes becoming more pronounced giving the beer a nice overall flavor profile. I found the bittersweet notes to be a little more dominant than I typically enjoy in these types of big stouts. On the whole; however, this is a complex and tasty Imperial Stout.

As an anniversary or special occasion stout, it definitely works. The addition of the cherries gives the beer just enough of a unique taste to make it stand out from typical Imperial Stouts. Not sure if it is available on draft, but the beer is in 4-packs of bottles for distribution. This a beer you’ll want to pour when you have no plans on a cool night aside from relaxing and reading a good book or watching a movie.

Left Hand had a big celebration for this beer. That would have been a nice time to visit the legendary brewery!

Recommended, link to Untappd 3.75-bottle cap rating.

Beer Review: North Coast Brewing’s Old Rasputin

Name: Old Rasputin
Brewing Company: North Coast Brewing Co.
Location: Fort Bragg, CA
Style: Russian Imperial Stout
ABV: 9%

From North Coast Brewing’s page for Old Rasputin:

Produced in the tradition of 18th Century English brewers who supplied the court of Russia’s Catherine the Great, Old Rasputin seems to develop a cult following wherever it goes. It’s a rich, intense brew with big complex flavors and a warming finish.

The Old Rasputin brand image is a drawing of Rasputin with a phrase in Russian encircling it — A sincere friend is not born instantly.

The Russian Imperial Stout is perhaps the biggest, boldest of all stouts. In most cases, it is the stout with the most pronounced hop presence. As the name implies, this style received the name because they were first brewed for Emperor Peter the Great of Russia. (or Catherine the Great?) Regardless, North Coast’s take on the style aptly named Old Rasputin is probably the most iconic and widely known American interpretation of the style.

I’ve had a few Russian Imperial Stouts (I even reviewed one from Carton) but generally, the barrel-aged versions are the ones I’ve enjoyed the most. For the longest time, the hop assertiveness wasn’t for me. Since I started enjoying more hop-forward beers I wanted to give one a try, one that wasn’t barrel aged so why not go for the granddaddy or “ded” of the style?

The most noticeable element, initially, is how dark this beer is. I’ve had PLENTY of stouts, over 200, and Old Rasputin is one of the darkest stouts I’ve ever poured. This beer has presence, especially with that old Russian mystic staring at you from the bottle. The most pronounced element of the beer’s aroma was the roasted malts, I think. Atop the beer is a thick, fluffy head that looks like a frothy cappuccino head.

That aroma is a pretty good indicator of what to expect with the beer. There’s a lot of bittersweet in the beer, maybe some chocolate hints and maybe even some toffee. I’ve seen some comments / reviews of the beer that mention hints of cherry, but I didn’t get that at all. Most of these flavors come from the malts but the hops aren’t going to let you forget about them.

The hops have a big bite, but not unpleasant for me. The roasted malt brings most of the flavor in the beer and their potential sweetness is balanced out the hop presence. While this is a big, flavorful beer and the hops are assertive, I would have guessed the IBU lower than 75 IBU. In many ways, this almost a chewable beer for how thick and robust it is.

I had a bottle of Old Rasputin many years ago, long before being on untappd, so I can’t remember exactly how the beer worked for me. Now? Seems like it should be an annual acquisition as nights get cooler and the big bastard of a beer will help warm the soul.

Unsurprisingly, North Coast brews a barrel-aged version of the beer that I may have to try. As it stands, Old Rasputin is rightfully an iconic beer of the style. With that in mind, I’m going to go ahead and tag this beer as an American Craft Beer Classic.

Recommended, link to Untappd 4-bottle cap rating.

For a great history of Old Rasputin, check out Jeff Alworth’s piece on All About Beer.

Untapped badges earned with this beer:

Imperial Czar (Level 5)

Originally created and brewed for Russian Emperor Peter the Great, the Russian Imperial Stout has a history as rich as it’s roasty, hoppy flavor. That’s 25 different beers with the style of Russian Imperial Stout!

2X (Level 31)

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 155 different beers with the style that contains Imperial / Double in its style name.

 

Beer Review: AleSmith’s Speedway Stout

Name: Speedway Stout

Brewing Company: Alesmith Brewing Company)
Location: San Diego, CA
Style: Stout – American Imperial/Double
ABV: 12%

From AleSmith’s page for the beer:

Speedway Stout’s ominous, pitch-black appearance has become a hallmark of this modern-day classic. Chocolate and roasted malts dominate the flavor, supported by notes of dark fruit, toffee, and caramel. A healthy dose of locally-roasted coffee from Ryan Bros. Coffee, Inc. added to each batch brings out the beer’s dark chocolate flavors and enhances its drinkability. Despite its intensity, Speedway Stout’s fine carbonation and creamy mouthfeel make it very smooth and surprisingly easy to drink. This beer ages very well and will continue to mature for many years to come.

AleSmith is one of the great California craft breweries, having established itself as a presence in San Diego over twenty years ago in 1995. Their beers have won acclaim and loyal fans from their IPAs, their San Diego Pale Ale .394 (named in honor of Tony Gwynn) and this, perhaps their most popular beer with over 100,000 check-ins in untappd. I’ve wanted to try it (or one of its variants) for a while and I’m pleased I finally did.

I’ve seen the beer in large bottles and pint cans, with the pint cans sold singly for about $7, which may be pricey for a single pint in a liquor store but compared to a pint in a bar, it is a bargain. Be that as it may, I popped open the can and out came a thick black beer that was quite dark. As the head formed, there was a little bit of a deep brown at the top and in the foam – the color was reminiscent of a lightly creamed coffee. In other words, this looked like my kind of stout. With an aroma of coffee coming from the glass along with the roasted malts, I barely sat down before taking the first sip.

Whoa-Damn!

This beer is a flavor assault, in a good way. The the typical stout-like flavors are present: roasted malts, extra hops since this an imperial stout and an ample amount of coffee. Usually stouts this high in alcohol with this complex of a flavor profile are barrel-aged. The brewmaster(s) at AleSmith coaxes plenty of flavor without the addition of the stout having aged in barrels and that is quite impressive. While the hops are definitely present as I said, they were just one component of the flavor profile and not overly dominant like I’ve had in some other stouts from West Coast breweries.

As much as the flavor profile is potent and delicious, one thing that is deceiving is the ABV. While you do get some of the alcohol and slight booziness, I would never guess this beer is 12% ABV.

After some friends and coworkers talked up this beer, I had fairly high hopes for it. I was a little cautious because some the hops can be far too dominant on some of these stouts, but that was far from the case with Speedway Stout.

Highly recommended. Now I just need to try some of the variants.

Recommended, link to Untappd 4.25-star rating.

Untapped badges earned with this beer: Heavy Weight (Level 58)

Heavy Weight (Level 58)

You like it thick and dark. Your beer! What did you think we were talking about? That’s 290 different beers with the style of Porter or Stout.

2X (Level 29)

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 145 different beers with the style that contains Imperial / Double in its style name.

 

 

Beer Review: Belching Beaver’s Peanut Butter Milk Stout

Name: Peanut Butter Milk Stout
Brewing Company: Belching Beaver Brewing Company
Location: San Diego, CA
Style: Stout – Milk / Sweet
ABV: 5.3%

Not one of my best beer photos, the bar was fairly dark.

From Belching Beaver’s beer page:

America’s Favorite Peanut Butter Milk Stout: this silky-smooth beer put us on the map. Troy came up with the idea of combining Peanut Butter with our Beaver’s Milk Stout and he nailed it. Don’t let the dark color fool you, this beer is delightfully easy to drink with cascading aromas of roasted peanuts, dark chocolate and coffee. We appreciate your continued support for helping make this style our #1 seller.

On business trips, you get the opportunity to try beers that may not be available in distribution in your area. When I was in Las Vegas last week, I saw a beer from Belching Beaver and that alone made me want to try it. Seeing that it was a Milk Stout sealed the deal.

The beer pours extremely dark from the can like you’d expect from a stout, but it is not heavy like many stouts. The peanut butter aroma is definitely present, but it isn’t the defining characteristic of the beer. Sipping it proves out that aroma, the sweetness of the lactose sugars (which give the beer its milk stout moniker) really balance the peanut flavors and swirl together with a little bit of coffee and a little bit more of chocolate. Not enough chocolate to give it a full Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup flavor, which is a good thing.

I like Milk Stouts, but I get a little wary for beers that have peanut butter. Some are too overpowering, with the peanut butter dominating every other flavor component. In any beer, it is the sum of the parts, the combination of flavor components that produce the whole, or gestalt, of the beer. Belching Beaver has achieved a delicious gestalt of flavors in their Peanut Butter Milk Stout: greater than the sum of its parts. For all the flavors in this beer, it is really easy drinking, super smooth, and goes down too quickly. With some of those other overpowering beers that use peanut butter in their beer, some may have been good, but I always though, “just one for the night” because of how overpowering the peanut butter was. That’s not the case for me with Belching Beaver’s Peanut Butter Milk Stout, I’d be happy to drink a couple back-to-back.

Where an intriguing label and name drew me in, the perfect balance of flavors kept me wanting more. As of the writing of this review, Belching Beaver doesn’t distribute into NJ because if they did, this would be a beer in my regular rotation.

As I said briefly on my check in untappd, this is the best Peanut Butter beer I’ve had.

Recommended, link to Untappd 4.25-star rating.

Untapped badges earned with this beer: Heavy Weight (Level 57)

Heavy Weight (Level 57)

You like it thick and dark. Your beer! What did you think we were talking about? That’s 285 different beers with the style of Porter or Stout.

 

Beer Review: Epic Brewing’s Son of a Baptist

Name: Son of a Baptist
Brewing Company: Epic Brewing Company
Location: Salt Lake City, UT and Denver, CO
Style: Stout – Imperial/Double
ABV: 8%

From the beer’s description on Epic Brewing Company’s landing page for the beer:

Son of a Baptist is an 8% ABV imperial stout. It is not barrel aged like its father, Big Bad Baptist; instead its flavor profile was designed to highlight the complex and often unique flavors of small batch coffees. Instead of sourcing a coffee that would play well in a beer we sought out creative and innovative roasters, then asked them which beans they’re passionate about. Each resulting release of Son of a Baptist is widely different depending on the coffee selected. Some are fruity and sweet with notes of jam and chocolate, others are rich and earthy with a big roasted finish. Each limited release will return to the Roaster’s home market where the beer and the coffee can be sampled side by side.

Stouts, truly my favorite style of beer. Add coffee to the beer in the appropriate amount, and I like the beer even more since coffee is probably the beverage I drink at least as much as or more than beer. Coffee may be the most prevalent adjunct flavor element in stouts and given that large swath of coffee stouts on the market, they vary in quality. For some of those coffee stouts, the coffee overpowers the beer. In other coffee stouts, the coffee is barely noticeable. With Epic’s Son of a Baptist, harmony is achieved.

As the beer pours from the can into the glass, I realize this is one of the blackest beers I’ve ever had. A combination of the roasted malts and coffee add to this, I suspect, but the aroma hints at coffee rather than blasting your senses with the coffee.

That first sip sets the tone for the delicious 12 oz that will be consumed. The standard stout flavors of roasted malt, a bit of hops are prevalent but the coffee slides in to give a wonderful, balanced flavor. There’s an added layer of sweetness not all coffee stouts exhibit. I do tend to put a little more sugar in my coffee so I’m accustomed to sweetened coffee. Whatever the fine folks at Epic did with the coffee matches just about perfectly with the level of sweetness I try to achieve every morning in my own mug of coffee.

For a non-barrel-aged stout, Son of a Baptist packs a decent punch at 8%. The closest comparison I can think of is Founders’ vaunted Breakfast Stout, a beer I love and get quite regularly. Son of a Baptist compares extremely favorably against Founders’ brew, so I’d highly recommend seeking out Son of a Baptist.

One of my co-workers was talking about this beer for the last few days before I picked up the six pack at my favorite beer shop. In other words, he convinced me to give this one a try and I’m very happy I did.

The particular six pack I purchased used beans from Novo Coffee. There are about at least another dozen variants to Son of a Baptist with beans from other local roasters so I may have to give each of those a try.

The “Baptist” line of stouts from Epic is very well regarded. In addition to the Son of a Baptist, there’s the Big Bad Baptist, which is aged in whiskey barrels as well as Triple Barrel Big Bad Baptist with coconut aged in rum and whisky barrels.

Recommended, link to Untappd 4.5-star rating.

Untapped badges earned with this beer:

Heavy Weight (Level 53)

You like it thick and dark. Your beer! What did you think we were talking about? That’s 265 different beers with the style of Porter or Stout.

2X (Level 26)

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 130 different beers with the style that contains Imperial / Double in its style name.

 

Beer Review: SingleCut’s Eric, More Cowbell!

Name: Eric More Cowbell! Chocolate Milk Stout
Brewing Company: SingleCut Beersmiths
Location: Astoria, NY
Style: Stout – Milk/Sweet
ABV: 6.6%

The beer’s description on SingleCut’s Landing Page for the beer:

WE’VE GOT A FEVER – And there is only one cure: a lusciously creamy, slightly sweet Stout that sits atop a roast malt base and huge cocoa infusion that will rock all night long.

It has been quite a few reviews since I wrote about a stout, specifically a Milk Stout. I’ve tried to vary up the styles in these reviews even if Milk Stout is one of my favorites sub-styles of stouts. A multi-repeat style beer would have to stand out (in the blog’s first year) if I was going to review it, and ERIC, More Cowbell! Milk Stout certainly stands out from most stouts and the other 46 Milk Stouts I’ve consumed over the past few years.

The beer pours a deep black, blotting out all light and any black text on the glass (like the word “Bedford’s” on the glass in the picture). I smelled a little bit of chocolate as it poured. The beer was very cold when I first poured it but it was so good I had a tough time waiting for it to warm up, as is proper for most stouts.

The thickness of the beer was perfect, some other milk stouts I’ve had are far too thin, but this one is substantial enough that I was very pleased taking my time with it. The chocolate is not as potent, as say Terrapin’s Moo-Hoo Chocolate Milk Stout, and that is welcome. If I wanted a Moo-Hoo (which I like quite a bit) I would have bought a six pack of that beer. This beer has enough going on aside from the chocolatey sweetness to set it apart.

The lactose sugars are really nice and balance out the bitterness some stouts can have. There’s also a touch of toasted/roasted chocolate/malts at the back-end of the beer that was really welcoming. The finish lacked the bittersweet characteristics present in many stouts and milk stouts, too. In other words, I wanted to drink more and more of the beer to get to that finishing flavor. However, I slowed a bit as I noticed how much better the beer was once the temperature moved from ice cold to closer to room temperature.

I picked this up as a 16.9oz bottle and would love to give this a try on draught. This beer is well worth the $7 I plunked down (minus the NJ Craft Beer discount) considering how well made it tastes and because of the amount of beer.

SingleCut is one of the growing number of breweries in the boroughs of New York City, and this is the first one I’ve had from them but hopefully it will not be the last.

Highly Recommended, link to Untappd 4-bottle cap rating.

Untapped badge earned with this beer


Heavy Weight (Level 51)

You like it thick and dark. Your beer! What did you think we were talking about? That’s 255 different beers with the style of Porter or Stout.

Beer Review: New Holland Brewing’s Dragon Milk Stout

Name: Dragon’s Milk
Brewing Company: New Holland Brewing Company
Location: Holland, MI
Style: American Imperial / Double Stout
ABV: 11%

From the beer’s description on New Holland Brewing’s Web site:

Rich, Roasty, and Creamy with Heavy notes of Vanilla and just enough familiar warmth from Oak Barrels. Reminds us all that life’s events – big or small – are worth celebrating. A stout with roasty malt character intermingled with deep vanilla tones, all dancing in an oak bath.

Few beers have as great a name as this one – Dragon’s Milk. Something magical is conjured in the mind with this name and there is a tradition to the name, too. Dragon’s Milk is a 17th century term used to describe the strong beer usually reserved for royalty. From some older information New Holland put out for this beer, “This strong ale was aged in oak for over 120 days. The aging process extracts flavors from the wood, which contribute to its complex character.”

While a great name is all well and good, the beer must live up to the name. In the case of New Holland’s best known beer, the contents of the bottle (or if you’re lucky enough, the keg) more than meet the expectations laid down by the name. Also an unplanned thing is reviewing “Dragon’s Milk” after a beer called “Skull Splitter.”

The best-known craft brewery in Michigan may be Founders, and rightly so. One of their best known and most renowned beers is Kentucky Breakfast Stout (KBS). Again, rightly so. But for all the hype surrounding KBS, Dragon’s Milk as a Barrel Aged stout is an excellent stout and not one to be overshadowed. Also, it is far easier to find and acquire this brew, at least here in NJ. There are variants on the beer I haven’t seen and only heard about, but this fantastic brew is a wonderful barrel-aged stout.

Straight off the pour, the bourbon and vanilla aromas make their presence known. The beer pours a beautiful black that makes a statement: This Beer is Potent. I let it sit for a few minutes before giving in and having a taste drinking in the aromas for a few minutes. Yes, this beer lived up to my memory of first having it about 7 years ago. Like Backwoods Bastard, the aroma of this beer is just as good as the taste. Rather than letting it sit on the table between sips, I was holding it to bathe in the aroma.

Like a lot of bourbon barrel aged stouts, Dragon’s Milk is a beer to be enjoyed slowly. Not a beer to guzzle or drink quickly. Not just because of the 11% ABV, but also because this is a beer that you want to enjoy for all the flavors swirling in your choice of glass. I’ll beat the drum again, but like most higher ABV beers, stouts especially, Dragon’s Milk is a beer whose flavors become more pronounced (i.e. delicious) as it warms to room temperature. The beer smells so damned good it is tough to not have a sip immediately. Do that sure, but let most of the beer warm for a few minutes before drinking more than that first sip.

The first time I had this beer was on tap at a wonderful restaurant/beer bar in Pennsylvania about 45 minutes from me – Isaac Newton’s – about 6 or 7 years ago. If you live in the NJ/PA region and are close enough to Isaac Newton’s, do yourself a favor, take a drive to enjoy some great food (incredible burgers, delicious meatloaf, excellent short ribs).

Shortly thereafter, I procured a four pack and enjoyed the beer periodically, but I saved one of those four for a special occasion. At the time, I was at a career crossroads, so I figured I’d save the beer until I landed a job I really wanted. Well, that “last beer” aged about 4 years and that time in the back of my fridge did wonders. I recall loving the beer, here’s my 2011 untapped check in.

This is the 2011 bottle that aged for four years

As it so happened, my father gave me a variety of beers which amounted a half of a case of beer for my birthday a couple of weeks ago, including some Dragon’s Milk. I am also in the midst of a career upgrade right now, having started a new managerial role yesterday (November 13). I enjoyed the aged bottle from 2011 on the first day in the then new position I started in 2015 and I “closed the circle” and had the new bottle of Dragon’s Milk on the last day in that role on the Friday of my last day in that role, before assuming promotion which began yesterday.

So, that was the small history lesson of me and this beer. Clearly, it is a beer I enjoy and one that any stout lover should be getting on a regular basis. Most of my friends who enjoy stouts talk about this beer with reverence so I suspect most beer folks do know about it. I’ve seen this in four packs for about $15 or $16 near me, which isn’t cheap, but well worth it when you consider that going to a bar and having a few beers of far lower quality will cost you potentially more money.

Highly Recommended, link to Untappd 4.25-star rating.