Monthly Archives: March 2012

XBeeriment Black Force One

Beer:  Black Force One
Brewery: XBeeriment
Style: Imperial Stout
ABV: 10.4%

Serving Style: Draft
Glassware:
Snifter
Drinking Establishment:
The Blind Tiger, NYC
Primary Consumer(s):
Ally & Kerensa

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OVERALL RATING:

Sight: Black, with some amber edging.  A thin tan head quickly recedes to bubbles around the edge of the glass.

Scent: Vanilla coffee, with an alcoholic or acetate note (like that of nail polish).

Flavor:  Initially, a semisweet chocolate or coffee taste, with notes of smoked roasted malts; but then the bitterness of the coffee emerges.  It’s like a dark chocolate-covered espresso bean.

Feel:  Thin and smooth, with low-to-moderate carbonation.

The defining characteristic of the Danish brew is its bitterness–any chocolate-like sweetness gets outshined–but it is pleasant overall.  Despite its high ABV and its slightly alcoholic aroma, you don’t taste the alcohol (you just feel it–woo!).  This is a rare find on tap–worthy of making a trip over to Denmark…or the Blind Tiger.

Concluding remarks: The XBeeriment Black Force One is a good representation of an Imperial Stout–but we couldn’t do more than one of the tiny glasses it came in, lest we find ourselves passed out in front of the Blind Tiger fireplace.

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Harviestoun Old Engine Oil

 

Beer:  Old Engine Oil
Brewery: Harviestoun Brewery
Style: English Porter
ABV: 6.0%

Serving Style: Cask
Glassware: Mug
Drinking Establishment: The Blind Tiger, NYC
Primary Consumer(s): Ally & Kerensa

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OVERALL RATING:

Sight: Pitch black, with a thin tan head.

Scent: Like that of creme brulee–sweet, vanilla, and caramelized sugar.  There is a note of alcohol in the aroma as well.

Flavor: A fascinating combination of hops in the form of pine, hiding beneath roasted malts and a sweet caramel coating.  We also tasted notes of citrus pith and chocolate.

Feel:  Thin but creamy, with no carbonation due to it being a cask beer.

Concluding remarks: Soulful.  Balanced.  Delicious.  Drinking the Old Engine Oil Porter is like walking through the forests of Scotland (Harviestoun’s homeland) while eating a caramel-dipped dark chocolate-covered orange and finishing the night with a bottle of red wine.  In other words, the best day (and night) ever.

CASK CAVEAT: The only reason we didn’t give this Porter a full 5 Pint Glasses is that we tried it from a cask; we eagerly await an opportunity to try the Old Engine Oil in another form, with perhaps a bit more carbonation.

PORTER CAVEAT: Have you picked up on the fact that you just read a Porter review during Stout month?  No, we didn’t get confused, but the Blind Tiger did: they had the Old Engine Oil listed on their menu board as a Stout.  We won’t hold it against them, though, because we are ever-so-glad we got to experience this beer, so much so that it was still worthy of a write-up (despite it being two months late).

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Lagunitas Imperial Stout

Beer:  Imperial Stout
Brewery: Lagunitas Brewing Company
Style: Russian Imperial Stout
ABV: 9.9%

 

Serving Style: Draft
Glassware: Mug
Drinking Establishment: The Blind Tiger, NYC
Primary Consumer(s): Ally & Kerensa

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OVERALL RATING:

Sight: Black with a golden brown tinge. The creamy tan head dissipates quickly.

Scent: Roasted, with a hint of bread and a note of astringent alcohol.

Flavor: Initial note of roasted alcohol, as if the alcohol has been blended with molasses; but then a strong flavor of floral, earthy fruit comes through, like that of papaya or passionfruit. (Weird.)

Feel:  Thin, with virtually no carbonation (as is the case with cask beer).

When we hear “Imperial Stout,” we think bold and roasted–exactly what this beer is not.  Call us crazy, but we taste the fruits of the Amazon here.  Granted, this Lagunitas offering was in cask form, which tends to bring out the fruit and earth notes of a beer (there was a bit of peat moss mixed in with the passionfruit and papaya), but the cask did nothing to enhance our beer-drinking experience.

Concluding remarks: While we will not be picking up the Lagunitas Imperial Stout in the near future, we are considering developing a recipe for a passionfruit beer…

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Spider Bite Boris the Spider

Beer:  Boris the Spider
Brewery: Spider Bite Beer Company
Style: Russian Imperial Stout
ABV: 10.0%

 

Serving Style: Draft
Glassware: Snifter
Drinking Establishment: The Blind Tiger, NYC
Primary Consumer(s): Ally & Kerensa

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OVERALL RATING:

Sight: Opaque black, with a thin mocha head that recedes to an even thinner layer of tiny carbonation bubbles.

Scent: Sweet, like a Boston cream pie–mostly cream, with a hint of chocolate.  In a blind taste–er, smell test, we’d call this a Milk Stout.

Flavor: Overly sweet, with some roasted malts.  Like its aroma alluded to, it tastes like a Milk Stout, with a hint of licorice, and even ethyl alcohol.

Feel:  Creamy, with a low carbonation that gets overpowered by its creaminess.  As it rests, it loses some of its viscosity.

Boris the Spider is not representative of his Russian Imperial heritage; he’s not robust, or malty, or bitter, but simply offers a generic sweetness more indicative of–can we reiterate it enough?–a Milk Stout.  Where are the eight different malts used to brew this guy?  Where are the complex aroma and flavor he boasts?  Maybe he left them on his Aeroflot flight over from Sheremetyevo International.

Concluding remarks: This is all spider and no bite. While Spider Bite Beer Company is a local brewery located in Holbrook, Long Island, we would rather take a quick jaunt over to St. Petersburg than drink Boris again.

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St. Ambroise Stout Impériale Russe

Beer:  St. Ambroise Stout Impériale Russe
Brewery: McAuslan Brewing
Style: Russian Imperial Stout
ABV: 9.2%

Serving Style: Bottle
Glassware: Wine glass
Drinking Establishment: Ally’s Apartment
Primary Consumer: Ally

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OVERALL RATING:

Sight: Looks like a well-made shot of espresso.  Pitch black and completely opaque.  A thick, deep chestnut-brown head, about 2 fingers worth, that settles to a thin layer of bubbles, big and small.  Nice lacing.

Scent: Roasted malts, coffee, vanilla, and chocolate, all in perfect unison.  A slight note of alcohol.

Flavor:  Bitter hops are the predominant flavor, but the coffee and bittersweet chocolate notes help balance it.

Feel:  Smooth, full-bodied, with moderate carbonation.  A bit of a lingering tingle from the hops, but this fades as the beer rests.

St. Ambroise, from Canadian microbrewery McAuslan, is like Québec’s version of Brooklyn Brewery; and just like Brooklyn, they have some stand-out beers–the Stout Impériale Russe among them.  This Special Reserve brew is nice and bold, like a Russian Imperial Stout should be, and the flavors are well-balanced–not too bitter, not too sweet.  I wish I had the patience to age it, because I’m sure it would bump it up to 5 Pint Glass status; and I wish I lived in Canada so I could drink it more regularly.

Concluding remarks: No need to fly to Russia to find a great Imperial Stout; just drive on up to Montréal.  Za vashe zdorovye!  Santé!  Cheers!

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Nøgne Ø Imperial Stout

Beer:  Nøgne Ø Imperial Stout
Brewery: Nøgne Ø
Style: Imperial Stout
ABV: 9.0%

Serving Style: Bottle
Glassware: Wine glass
Drinking Establishment: Kerensa’s kitchen
Primary Consumer: Kerensa

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OVERALL RATING:

Sight: Pours a thin, oily, opaque dark brown body. The tiniest modicum of a dark mocha head emerges after it sits for a few seconds, but then quickly recedes. 

Scent: Initial smell is a straightforward sweet roasted malt scent. There is also an overpowering note of thick molasses. The undertones are candied fig and dark chocolate.  

Flavor: This, like some of the other beers I had earlier in the month, changes drastically from first sip to end note. The first flavor is not altogether pleasant; it’s sharp, bitter, and has a bite. However, the taste moves to a sweet, although bitter, fresh coffee flavor and ultimately tastes like pouring sugar into an espresso. At the end, the predominant flavor is dark chocolate with a bit of roasted malt bitterness and smoke.

Feel: Exceptionally thin, silky body with some carbonation.

Nøgne Ø hails from Grimstad, Norway. If you’re wondering what the Norwegian-t0-English translation of “Nøgne Ø” is, you’re in luck. The bottle tells us that Nøgne Ø  (“naked island”) was a term Henrik Ibsen used to describe the islands among the rough waters off Norway’s coast, which is where the brewery is located. While I am not sure I would survive on this naked island with only this Imperial Stout and an anthology of Ibsen, I could certainly pass a few days knocking back a few of these to pass time. However, after day 6,  I think I would  start collecting ingredients to brew my own beer. Oh, and maybe start thinking about trying to find food.

Concluding remarks: Overall, this is a solid beer and a fine example of a Russian Imperial Stout. However, do yourself a favor and go get the Founder’s Imperial Stout instead!

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Thomas Hooker Chocolate Truffle Stout

Beer:  Chocolate Truffle Stout
Brewery: Thomas Hooker Brewing Company
Style: Stout
ABV: 5.9%

Serving Style: Draft
Glassware: Flute
Drinking Establishment: Pint, Jersey City
Primary Consumer: Ally
Consumption Companion: Laura, Ally’s awesome sister

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OVERALL RATING:

Sight: Dark, almost opaque, with slight amber edging.  Half-inch beige head that recedes quickly.
Scent: Roasted malts, cocoa, and hazelnuts, with a slight note of alcohol.
Flavor: A classic chocolate nut flavor, with notes of roasted coffee in the aftertaste.  As it rests, the aftertaste turns a bit sour, but the other flavors become more prominent.
Feel:  Smooth and thin.  Low carbonation.
Concluding remarks: Although more bitter than what one would expect from something deemed a “Chocolate Truffle,” this Stout from Connecticut-based microbrewery Thomas Hooker does remind us of a chocolate-covered espresso bean, thanks to cocoa nibs and cocoa powder from local CT chocolatier Munson’s Chocolate.  As with most Stouts, definitely don’t drink it ice cold; the flavors emerge as the beer mellows.
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You call it March Madness; we call it Get Blitzed Day!

The month of March flew by, didn’t it?  Maybe it’s because you were so immersed in watching the number one ranked teams in the NCAA make their way to the finals.  (Actually, wouldn’t it have been more exciting if it came down to Western Kentucky and Loyola Maryland?  Just sayin’.)  But for us over at TYIB, March flew by because there were so many Stouts for us to try, and so little time.

But, the month isn’t over yet!  We’re defying the old adage and going out like a lion, with a Get Blitzed Day chock full o’ beers to keep you happy (and blitzed) as you watch the Final Four games tonight.  Or, if you don’t really care if Syracuse beats the Buckeyes or don’t even know what state Baylor is in, you can make your own bracket of beers and see which Stout battles it out to the end.  Because that would truly make for a Get Blitzed Day.

"You can steal the ball; just leave me my Imperial Stout!"

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GUEST POST: Arcadia Imperial Stout

Beer:  Imperial Stout
Brewery: Arcadia Brewing Company
Style: Imperial Stout
ABV: 9.5%

Serving Style: Draft
Glassware: Wine glass
Drinking Establishment: Spuyten Duyvil, NYC
Primary Consumer: George, Ally’s co-op co-worker
Guest Reviewer Qualifications: He is good at many things (building computers, discussing philosophy, being an economist), and having a fine palate for beer is one of them.

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OVERALL RATING:

Sight: Dark like you would expect from a Stout, but not overly so, with little-to-no head when served.

Scent: Like motor oil and pears.

Flavor: Tastes like a basic Stout but with little depth or aftertaste. This gives the beer an artificial taste, like it was made without all of the odds and ends that cause aftertastes. I distinctly remember standing by the bar, sipping the beer, attempting to discern subtleties, gracenotes, and so forth—and being unable to do so. It was a weird feeling, like taking one too many steps at the bottom of the stairs. I suppose you could say that the flavor here is about as standard a Stouty taste as possible.

Feel: Thick but not very carbonated, dense without fizz.

To add a personal note to this story, I should note that I purchased this beer from a very trendy bar and, having paid entirely too much for it, was set on dechipering its complexity. Yes, like a puzzle. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much to figure out: there was one piece—it’s fairly bold, Stoutish punch. And once the sip had passed, the flavor faded into memory, leaving me feeling unfulfilled.

Concluding remarksDrinkable but not the best.

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THANK YOU, GEORGE! Sorry for dragging you out to Brooklyn to go to said trendy bar.  It was expensive, yes, but hey, now you’re famous!

We are always looking for interested and interesting beer consumers to review a brew we might not have seen or had time to review in the month. Let us know if you’d like to contribute something, in exchange for internet fame, a line on your resume, an unpaid internship, a free ride, a huge tax rebate, a happy ending, and everything else everyone else has promised you in life. Sounds like a sweet deal to me.  Email us at wunderassn@gmail.com!

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Harvest Moon Paddy’s Irish Stout

Beer:  Paddy’s Irish Stout
Brewery: Harvest Moon Brewery
Style: Irish Stout
ABV: 4.5%

Serving Style: Draft
Glassware: Pint glass
Drinking Establishment: Harvest Moon Brewery, New Brunswick, NJ
Primary Consumer: Ally

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OVERALL RATING:

Sight: Dark cola color, with 1 finger beige head that settles to a thin layer of tiny bubbles with a nice ring of head.  Nice lacing, too.

Scent: A pleasant roasted coffee aroma.

Flavor:  Roasted coffee, with a hint of bittersweet chocolate.  A ginger-like aftertaste that is a bit bitter, a bit sour.

Feel:  Thick, creamy mouthfeel with moderate-to-high carbonation

Concluding remarks: For denizens of New Brunswick, NJ, Harvest Moon is a great spot for good food, live-band karaoke, and–whoa!–craft beer.  Yep, as soon as you walk in, you see the kettles and fermentation vessels they use to brew their own beer.  So, you can’t get it much fresher than this.  Their Irish Stout, made from pale ale malts and roasted barley (100 lbs. of flaked barley, to be exact), is a highly enjoyable brew.  Classic Stout flavors of coffee and chocolate, that only taste better as the beer rests and mellows.  Support local small businesses, all you New Brunswickians–check out Paddy’s Irish Stout on your next George St. beer crawl.

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