Thursday, March 9, 2017

Elysian Brewing Split Shot Espresso Milk Stout

No beer style is better suited to accept into its bosom coffee beans than a stout (we can throw porters in there too, but you know where I'm coming from). And no stout sub-style provides a happier home for coffee than the delectable milk stout. Stout's natural heavy creaminess is enhanced by the rich coffee flavor. Milk stouts (also known as sweet stouts) get their name from the additional of lactose to the brew. Since lactose is a sugar that does not convert to alcohol during fermentation, its reside imbues the brew with a sweet taste, and a firm rebuttal to the "I don't like dark beer" crowd. Split Shot pours a deep impenetrable brown, admitting nary a photon. The head is a short, lacy tan; the consistency is a medium-heavy. The coffee is up front and obvious, but somehow not overwhelming. As Split Shot warms up, vanilla and chocolate notes swirl unto the taste horizon. I'd give this an 8.5 on the IGB beer scale.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Goose Island Fassinator Blonde Dopplebock

As everyone knows, Spring is the season for the bocks. Okay, everyone doesn't know it, but it is. Here's a previous IGB article about Bocks:

Let's start off with the name: Fassinator. Pronounced Fahs-in-Ator, derived for the German word from draught: Vom Fahs, and a traditional suffix for bocks: -ator. The ABV is 8%, about what you'd expect for a strong bock. It pours an apricot hue with a three-finger head that very slowly recedes to a lacy frill. fairly complex flavor mix, with malty sweet biscuit-y notes with some banana undertones. Light hop bitterness that kicks in after the beer warms up a bit - not noticeable straight from the fridge. A lot smoother than a typical doppelbock, with no noticeable alcohol heat. I'd classify this more as a strong maibock rather than a doppelbock, but your mileage may vary.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Brickway Maple Pecan Brown Ale

There might be some good beer in there somewhere, but it tastes like I'm drinking a glass of maple syrup. Urk.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Avery Brewing Out of Bounds Stout

A few months back I was at Yia-Yia's for Avery night and tried several of their fines beers. It seems like it's one of those breweries where you'll never find a bad beer. Out of Bounds Stout is just a stout, nothing fancy, no added flavoring, no unnecessary amounts of hops in order to call it a stout IPA or some such nonsense.  A good stout doesn't need a hyphen, it just isOut of Bounds Stout pours, as you might expect, an impenetrable black with a one-finger beige head. But even though there's no added flavors, the malt and hops add all kinds of aromas and flavors: chocolate, coffee, toffee, caramel. Some sweetness (is this a milk stout maybe?) and a creamy thickness. Everything that you could possibly ask for in a stout. Bring me more!

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Boulevard Snow & Tell Oak-Aged Scotch Ale

Not bourbon barrel oak ages, but oak-aged nonetheless, Snow & Tell pours a maple syrupy hue, with a one-pinky tan head. Heavy, almost chewy mouthfeel, with malty character and oak as well (probably from the oak-aging!). Slight smokiness, but not as much as you'd expect from a Scotch ale. However there's some dark fruit overtones. There's some caramel peeking out as the temperature rises, however I'd classify this as a "training wheels" Scotch Ale. What I mean by that it's a version of the style that isn't as strong as a really good version, so it won't run off the neophytes. Overall, not bad, but not as good as I'd expected.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Zipline Winter Ale

As I discussed in the last article, winter ale, aka winter warmers, are a broad category and cover a lot of ground. Zipline opted to go back to basics and present a stripped-down, no frills version of this winter favorite. They added rye to the malt and let that and the hops give the illusion of added spices...brilliant! The brew pours a hazy nut brown, with a scanty head. Floral/piney hops predominate, but dark fruit peaks out shyly from behind the IBU's. Zipline has never let me down, and this ale is a definite keeper for the cold nights around the Winter Solstice. Check it out if you see it on tap somewhere.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Elysian Brewing Bifrost Winter Ale

"Winter Ale" is a very broad category and generally refers to a pale ale or blonde ale which is jazzed up with spices. Bifrost clocks in at 58 IBU's, pretty respectful for a pale ale, and maybe even an IPA. There's some citrus notes right up front, possibly orange zest, with some muted cinnamon and caramel as well. There's also some alcohol heat, like you might get from a Bareleywine or a Belgian Quadruppel, understandable at 8.3% ABV. Referring back to my characterization of winter warmers as a "broad category", Bifrost is well outside the norm for warmers: the color is a golden, rather than the usual brown, there's more citrus than spice, and a lot more hoppy than I would expect. Great tasting, but in my opinion incorrectly labelled.