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Beer #130 – May 12, 2010: Blue Fin Stout

July 28, 2010

Beer: Blue Fin Stout

Brewery: Shipyard Brewing Company, Portland, Maine

Style: Irish Dry Stout

Serving Type: 12 oz bottle

Price: $8.99 / six-pack

Availability: Year-round

Glassware: Glass Mug

Strength: 4.7% ABV (alcohol by volume)

Drinkability: Overall, a subtle and mild, but clean and crisp classic stout

Tasting Notes

Appearance: Deep walnut-black with a big, frothy, tan head

Aroma: Sweet roasted aroma with a hint of coffee beans

Mouthfeel: Medium body with light fizzy bubbles of carbonation

Taste: Starts with a brown sugar and touch of almost burnt caramel sweetness into a middle of roasted earthy coffee beans and bitter peanut skins.  The finish is drying, slightly bitter, with a hint of butterscotch.

Pairing: A real Maine Lobster roll in a New England style split-top bun, toasted, and served hot with a little drawn butter (no mayo!).  Dark beer and light seafood sounds like a strange pairing, but trust me, it works wonderfully!

Trivia: Maine is truly the lobster capital: with around 40 million pounds of lobster caught yearly, it supplies 90% of lobster sold in the U.S.

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Beer #129 – May 11, 2010: Lost Coast Eight Ball Stout

July 5, 2010

Beer: Lost Coast Eight Ball Stout

Brewery: Lost Coast Brewery, Eureka, California

Style: American Stout

Serving Type: 12 oz bottle

Price: $8.99 / six-pack

Availability: Year-round

Glassware: Glass Mug

Strength: 6.3% ABV (alcohol by volume)

Drinkability: A flavorful, though not heavy or overly rich, take on a stout.

Tasting Notes

Appearance: Deep walnut, though not quite “eight-ball black” with a big, creamy, tan head

Aroma: Malty, roasted, with a hint of hops

Mouthfeel: Medium body with a slightly creamy moderate carbonation

Taste: Initial caramelized, almost burnt, sugar with a hint of cinnamon leads into a roasted middle with mild notes of cappuccino dusted with cocoa powder, finishing with slightly bitter notes of peanut skin.

Pairing: Buttery, creamy cheeses such as Brie or Gouda contrast nicely with the roasted, bitter flavors of a relatively bitter American Stout like Eight Ball.

Trivia: What makes a stout an “American Stout”?  The invention and creativity of American brewers!  A broad category of stouts, many may think this means a stronger and hoppier take on a British or Irish Stout (which is often the case), but really covers anything from a stout brewed with smoked malt or real chocolate, to a stout aged in whiskey barrels.

Beer #128 – May 10, 2010: Bourbon County Stout

July 5, 2010

Beer: Bourbon County Stout

Brewery: Goose Island Beer Co., Chicago, Illinois

Style: Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout

Serving Type: 12 oz bottle

Price: Unknown

Availability: Cool/Cold-Weather Seasonal (i.e. not brewed in Summer)

Glassware: Brandy Snifter

Strength: 13.0% ABV (alcohol by volume)

Drinkability: Rich, warming, strong and enjoyable  as a slow-sipper.

Tasting Notes

Appearance: Deep walnut-black with a tan head

Aroma: Bourbon and butterscotch

Mouthfeel: Slightly syrupy thick with a creamy carbonation

Taste: Whoa!  Is this beer or bourbon I’m drinking?!?  An initial sweet bourbon flavor melds into a middle of earthy and sweet milk chocolate, tangy raisin, and buttery butterscotch. It finishes with a warming alcohol note and mild bitterness like unsweetened chocolate.

Pairing: Just pour into a brandy snifter and enjoy all on its own, or from what I understand, a good cigar if you do indulge.

Trivia: Barrel-aging may seem like a new craze in the beer world, but is actually among the oldest methods of storing and preserving beer (think of the annual tapping of the wooden keg at Oktoberfest in Munich).  What is new these days is the intentional use of barrels previously used for other beverages, whether hard liquor like bourbon or whiskey, or wines such as Pinot Noir or Chardonnay.

Beer #127 – May 9, 2010: Aphrodite

July 5, 2010

Beer: Aphrodite (a.k.a. Aphrodisiaque)

Brewery: Brasserie Dieu Du Ciel, Montreal, Canada

Style: Per the label: “Stout brewed with real cocoa and vanilla beans”

Serving Type: 11.5 oz bottle

Price: $5.99 / bottle

Availability: Occasional release

Glassware: Glass mug

Strength: 6.5% ABV (alcohol by volume)

Drinkability: Tastes richer and stronger than it really is, almost like biting into dark chocolate bar, making for a totally unique and very enjoyable brew.

Tasting Notes

Appearance: Pours a deep, dark chocolate hue with a frothy, meringue-like, big, tan head

Aroma: Sweet chocolate liqueur, with alcohol fumes warming my nose

Mouthfeel: Medium-thin with tiny bubbles of fizzy carbonation

Taste: Initial raw cocoa powder and vanilla bean flavors meld into a middle of chocolate liqueur and toasted coconut.  Warming alcohol notes come forward, then back to a unsweetened cocoa powder bitterness, with notes of walnut and a touch of pepper.

Pairing: A true dessert beer, whether with dessert or simply for dessert itself.

Trivia: Since 1994, Montreal has played host to the “Mondial de la Biere“, a huge international beer festival taking place over several days.  Between this renowned festival, and great area breweries such as Dieu du Ciel, McAuslan and Unibroue, Montreal may just be the premier “beer city” of Canada.

Beer #126 – May 8, 2010: St. Ambroise Oatmeal Stout

July 5, 2010

Beer: St. Ambroise Oatmeal Stout

Brewery: McAuslan Brewing, Montreal, Canada

Style: Oatmeal Stout

Serving Type: 11.5 oz bottle

Price: $10.99 / four-pack

Availability: Year-round

Glassware: Glass mug

Strength: 5.0% ABV (alcohol by volume)

Drinkability: This one is a little light and thin compared with other oatmeal stouts, making it easier to drink and more palatable year-round, but gets more interesting and complex as it warms.  The smoky notes really set it apart.

Tasting Notes

Appearance: Pours thick and dark like motor oil with a big, creamy and frothy tan head

Aroma: Sweet, roasted and mineral notes

Mouthfeel: Medium-thin body with a fizzy, creamy carbonation

Taste: Starts with a sweet, mild roast, a little smoky, then building into a both creamy and bitter, tart, earthy finish with black tea tannins contrasting the sweet and tart notes.

Pairing: Stouts go great with steak, but the smoky notes in this one make it perfect for one right off the grill.

Trivia: The McAulsan Brewery in Montreal boasts an outdoor terrace serving up their brews on the banks of the Lachine Canal along a popular bike path.

Beer #125 – May 7, 2010: Stoudts Fat Dog

July 5, 2010

Beer: Stoudts Fat Dog

Brewery: Stoudts Brewing Company, Adamstown, Pennsylvania

Style: Imperial Oatmeal Stout

Serving Type: 12 oz bottle, Bottled on 11/11/09

Price: $12.99 / six-pack

Availability: Year-round

Glassware: Glass mug

Strength: 9.0% ABV (alcohol by volume)

Drinkability: Rich, dark and very enjoyable, but the high alcohol content makes for a slow sipper

Tasting Notes

Appearance: Really dark, almost black, espresso bean hue with a medium, creamy, tan head and some lacing on the sides of my glass.

Aroma: Roasted coffee aroma with a hint of dark chocolate and notes of alcohol

Mouthfeel: Medium-thick body with a fizzy and creamy carbonation

Taste: Initial mild chocolate and cola nut sweetness, followed by an earthy middle of espresso and walnut skins with roasted and bitter coffee grinds.   The finish is slightly astringent with a warming alcohol note.  A big stout where the oatmeal in the brew certainly makes it smoother, creamier, and more palatable than other imperial stouts.

Pairing: Trader Joe’s dark chocolate pretzel bark

Trivia: Stoudt’s hosts a Microbrew Fest each year, bringing in breweries from around the country to their outdoor Biergarten, and serving up a great German inspired buffet called the “Best of the Wurst”.  I can personally attest that this is a great event, and a great bargain for a beer fest with beer and food all-included for $30.

Beer #124 – May 6, 2010: Wagner Valley Oatmeal Stout

July 5, 2010

Beer: Wagner Valley Oatmeal Stout

Brewery: Wagner Valley Brewery, Lodi, New York

Style: Oatmeal Stout

Serving Type: 12 oz bottle

Price: $8.99 / six-pack

Availability: Year-round

Glassware: Glass mug

Strength: 5.5% ABV (alcohol by volume)

Drinkability: Not bad, but a tangy flavor and relatively thin body make this less enjoyable than other oatmeal stouts I’ve tried recently.

Tasting Notes

Appearance: Deep espresso hue with moderate creamy tan head

Aroma: Roasted coffee and creme brûlée aroma

Mouthfeel: Medium-thin body with a creamy carbonation

Taste: Initial raw sugar sweetness followed by a middle of roasted coffee and carob.  The finish has a tangy flavor reminiscent of sourdough along with notes of bitter coffee grinds.

Pairing: Flan, creme brûlée, or other creamy, caramel dessert.

Trivia: Wagner Valley started with a winery in 1979 in the Finger Lakes region of Upstate New York, a region renowned for its Rieslings and Ice Wines.  The brewery opened in 1997.