Beer 27 of Spring – Stout?

Founders Black Rye

Brewer: Founders       Craft: Black Rye       ABV: 7.5%

Founders just keeps crafting quality beer.  Another solid effort.  This Black Rye drinks, for me, just like a coffee stout.  The roasted malts provide a nice backbone.  I get some cocoa, coffee, and roasted barley notes.  Founders dry hops this dark ale, as they call it.  That dry hopping gives this craft a dry finish and a bitter balance to the sweetness of the malts.

The distinct flavor of the rye – that grain that you know you’re drinking because it’s spice, it’s floral, it’s got a bite, it’s sharp, it’s hoppy, it’s bitter.  The rye just elevates this craft from a basic dark ale to a craft that I’m looking forward to having again.  And again.  I could drink this anytime of the year.  It’s too bad it’s only a seasonal release.  I guess I better get to the store and get some more…

Rating: Buy as much of this as you can before it’s gone…

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Beer 15 of Spring – Hot Stuff!

Rogue Sriracha Stout

Brewer: Rogue       Craft: Sriracha Stout       ABV: 5.7%

That’s right.  Get your milk ready.  Wait, no.  I’m not eating spicy wings.  I’m drinking spicy beer.  That’s spicy beer, not spiced beer, mind you.  I am not really a fan of spicy food.  I’ve never been into the whole “my mouth is on fire and I can’t taste my food anymore” type of experience.  I just don’t get it.

But as a service to the general public, and out of sheer curiosity, I had the urge to give this craft the old craft beer try.  So let’s do this.

It smells like a stout.  The aroma is full of cocoa, coffee, roasted malt, and caramel.  A great first impression.  What a ruse.  That first sip though.  I take that first sip and begin to taste the cocoa and coffee notes. Then I swallow that sip and immediate heat rolls down the back of the tongue into the throat.  It’s an intense, but not lingering heat.  It hits me, but then it dissipates in about 5-10 seconds.

As I continue to drink, and as the craft continues to warm up, my palate begins to adjust to the heat and the cocoa and coffee notes start to come through even more now.  Here’s the thing though.  The thing is, I just can’t get used to it.  Drinking a beer should be an enjoyable experience.  And, unfortunately, I’m just not enjoying this one.  I’m a stout guy.  Might still be my favorite style.  But this craft is not my glass of stout.

Listen, if you’re curious like me and you like spicy food, give it a try.  Even if you don’t like spicy, the spicy might hit your palate differently than it did mine.  I’m glad I tried this.  But I wouldn’t have it again.  To be honest with you, I couldn’t even finish the bomber.  One pint was enough for me.

Rating: Adventurous?  Then give it a try…I imagine it would go well with wings or pizza.  Or even as some hair of the dog maybe?  Sweat out the hangover?

Beer 67 of winter – dessert is served

Southern Tier Creme Brulee

Brewer: Southern Tier       Craft: Creme Brulee       ABV: 9.5%

Sharing is caring, they say.  So when I saw a bottle of this craft at Weis Markets I was excited to share it with Kristin, as she has become a fan of dark beer.  I was introduced to this beer by Chris, the man who I credit with initiating my interest in craft beer.  I mentioned him before in Beer 6 of winter and am always thankful for his friendship.

The first time I had this dessert in a glass, I did not like it at all.  I couldn’t get over how sweet it is.  But that didn’t stop me from trying it again.  And again.  One thing I’ve learned over the years is that the palate is always changing and growing.  For example, when I was young I would never have thought of eating sushi.  Now it is one of my favorite meals.  Never think that you don’t like something now because you didn’t like it before.

So the second time I had the Creme Brulee, I enjoyed it.  I had had a few years of growth since the first tasting.  I could appreciate the beer more and understood what Southern Tier did when they crafted this stout.  But it was still one of those beers that I wasn’t quite sure about.

And now to the present.  The gift of craft beer.  The Creme Brulee is, and I try not to exaggerate so please believe me, THE smoothest beer I have ever had.  I cannot think of another beer that drinks smoother than this one.  Caramel and vanilla notes abound as the snifter draws near to my nose.  I take my first sip.  And I just giggle with joy.  That has only happened to me a handful of times.  The vanilla notes are strong and bold and present from start to finish.  The caramel notes push their way through every so often.  The roasted, malty notes give this stout its solid backbone on which the craft is built.  It is SO SMOOTH!

This is the perfect example for me of why you keep trying.  Never give up.  I won’t have this beer for a while.  I know that sounds strange.  But it is that good.  I don’t want to ruin the experience.  I will definitely have it again.  And I can’t wait to see what the experience is like then.  Some beers you can pair with food.  This craft does not require that.  It really is dessert in a glass.  Wow.  Cheers!

Rating: buy a 22 oz. bottle

Beer 66 of winter – Belgian Stout

Conshy Belgian Stout

Brewer: Conshohocken       Craft: Belgian Stout       ABV: 5.3%

Valentine’s Day is a day for romance and love.  And when you’ve been married for 11 years and have two kids, it’s a day for lunch out with the family, dinner at home and relaxing with the wife after the kids are asleep with some craft beer we obtained when we were at beer school.  (see Beer 64 of winter)

So we (and by we I mean my wife) had the forethought to bring a growler so we could take some craft home with us.  We both liked the Belgian Stout, so that was the beer of choice.  And I thought it would be a good idea to share it on the most commercialized romantic day of the year.  Yes, that was me this time.

The Belgian Stout is pretty standard with some defining elements that separates it from some of the others out there.  The roasty, malty aromas are there as expected.  Those notes of roasted barley and malty sweetness also make this craft drinkable and smooth.  Chocolate and coffee notes add some depth.  The Belgian yeast that is used changes the sweetness and character of the standard stout into something warmer and subtly spiced.

I mentioned that we filled a growler with this craft.  A note on that – when you get a growler filled, don’t open it unless you know you can drink it all in one session.  Once you crack it open, it starts to lose it’s carbonation and goes flat pretty quickly.  I’ve learned this from experience and from other crafters.

I knew Kristin and I wouldn’t mind drinking this sessionable craft since there’s about 4-5 beers in the growler.  The Belgian Stout is a solid choice from a quality list of tasty beverages over at CBCo.  Check them out if you get a chance.  Cheers!

Rating: get a growler

Beer 61 of winter – don’t be a Hero…

Liquid Hero

Brewer: Liquid Hero       Craft: Vanilla Bean Stout       ABV: 5.8%

Drink one.  What a great name for a brewery.  Liquid Hero.

The craft of choice tonight is the Vanilla Bean Stout.  I consider myself a dark beer guy.  Stouts and porters are my comfort beers.  They are the ones that I go back to when I’m ready to relax and call it a night.  And now I can add this craft to the list of go to stouts.

The aroma is rich and full of vanilla, caramel, and coffee notes.  And since I’m a stout guy, I can say that, in that genre, I prefer a good vanilla stout over any other.  This craft does not disappoint.  It is ultra smooth and it’s not even a nitro craft.  The vanilla notes are omnipresent, and thank God for that.  A vanilla bean stout should be a vanilla bean stout.  The caramel notes also raise their hand when attendance is taken, along with some subtle chocolate and coffee notes.

This is a rich, smooth, intensely vanilla stout that I could certainly drink over and over again.  But I wouldn’t go as far as buying a case.  For me, it is one of those crafts that I want to remain what it is – an experience in drinking.  I want to fuss over those flavors and notes every time.  Cheers!

Rating: buy a six-pack

Beer 54 of winter – Seek and ye shall…

Founders Imperial Stout

Brewer: Founders       Craft: Imperial Stout       ABV: 10.5%

Find that this craft is no joke.  Rich, smooth, deep, luscious, thick, a flood of adjectives washes over me as I sip the Imperial Stout from Founders.  Solid notes of chocolate, coffee, licorice, and all of the roasted grains they use melt on your palate.  Reminiscent experience for me to drinking the Ten Fidy from Oskar Blues.  Both stouts border on tar-like in their consistency, which is not something you find too often.  And I think that’s a good thing.  That’s a compliment.

I had a feeling that Founders wouldn’t disappoint with their Imperial offering.  Their Breakfast Stout and their Kentucky Breakfast Stout are quality crafts and now I’ve found that their Imperial Stout falls right onto the list of beers I’d drink over and over.  You should do the same…Cheers.

Beer 49 of winter – a glass of warm milk…

Southern Tier 2X Stout

Brewer: Southern Tier       Craft: 2X Stout       ABV: 7.5%

Keeping it short and sweet tonight.  A double milk stout from Southern Tier fills the glass.  Roasted malts give it warmth and character.  Double the milk sugars give it a mellowed sweetness.  The hops add a subtle bitterness.  Notes of coffee and cocoa add a little depth.  Another quality craft from Southern Tier.  Enjoy.