Stout

TYIB Beer Tasting Extravaganza #1

To commemorate our one year of beer anniversary, TYIB held its very first–and very not last–beer tasting at Bar Great Harry. In order to delve into a discussion on the the stylistic nuances of beer, we reviewed two beers of three different styles. In a fight to the death type of situation, the reviewers pitted beer against beer, searching for the ultimate champion of the style.

that's right.

that’s right.

For this tasting, we explored the Black IPA, the Russian Imperial Stout, and the IPA. And the hangover (for some). The contenders were…

Yakima Glory, Victory Brewing Co.
There Will Be Black, Brooklyn Brewery
Titan IPA, Great Divide Brewing Co.
Hoppagedon, Napa Smith Brewery
Old Rasputin, North Coast Brewing Co.
Imperial Russian Stout, Stone Brewing Co.

cheers, all!

cheers, all!

The following reviews reflect the group’s opinions of each beer.

The Black IPAs

For our exploration of the Black IPA–a maltier sibling of the IPA–we reviewed Victory’s Yakima Glory and Brooklyn Brewery’s There Will Be Black, part of their Brewmaster’s series. Yakima Glory is named as such for the hops grown in the Yakima Valley in Pennsylvania.

 VS 

Yakima Glory, Victory Brewing Co., 8.7% ABV

yakima

Sight: Dark brown, burnt amber body.

Smell: Sweet chocolate and caramel aromas are quickly balanced by a hoppy citrusy smell.

Taste: Like its smell, there is an initial sweet, malty flavor that is almost immediately overpowered by a hop attack. The last note is a piney, earthy flavor.

Overall: For the most part, the reviewers took a liking to Yakima Glory. One reviewer said it was “good for a cold winter night,” while another called it “fierce.” Fellow beer enthusiast Amanda noted that it while it fell short of what she would expect of a Black IPA, it was redeemably well-balanced.

 beeruse-copy (average score= 3.375)

There Will Be Black, Brooklyn Brewery, 7.5%

therewill

Sight: Deep purple-y black body. Much darker than the Yakima.

Smell: The dominant aromas are chocolate, coffee, cherry, and dirt.

Taste: Some reviewers commented that There Will Be Black has a considerably weaker flavor than the Yakima Glory. One reviewer said it tasted like cold carbonated coffee. Other flavors include cherry, bark, and maple. We all agreed that it tasted like a Decello milk chocolate covered cherry…you know, the cheap kind.

Overall: While Yakima Glory’s take on a Black IPA was that of balance, Brooklyn Brewery focused on infusing as much rich, malty flavors into their Black IPA as possible. While not a fan favorite, reviewers were intrigued by the fruity, smokey flavors of There Will Be Black.

 (average score= 3)

THE VERDICT

After much discussion, the group named Victory’s Yakima Glory the clear winner of this round. However, we did agree that Brooklyn’s There Will Be Black is a better example of the Black IPA. For an everyday drinking beer, we recommend picking up a six-pack of the deliciously balanced (and alcoholic) Yakima. If you’re looking to further your understanding of the Black IPA, give Brooklyn’s a try.

—-

The IPAS

For our exploration of the IPA, we selected the only two IPAs on tap: Napa Smith’s Hopageddon (a double IPA) and Great Divide’s Titan Indian Pale Ale.

   VS 

Titan IPA, Great Divide, 7.1% ABV

titan

Sight: Clear chestnut/amber/golden body.

Smell: Some of the more creative descriptions of the evening were written about the smell of this beer. These include “grandma’s hard candy that falls out of your mouth” and “pizza dough cough drops.”

Taste: Again, there were some interesting adjectives associated with the flavor of this beer. Most agreed that it tastes like flavors found in a bar and a barn: there is a bit of a liquor, apple schnapps flavor with a grassy, hay taste.  One reviewer described the flavor like that of a starchy potato chip.

Overall: Titan is a complex, multi-faceted beer that reviewer Amanda called the “sexually ambiguous store clerk”  as well as a “golden mystery.” This IPA has an unusual fruity starch flavor that is certainly worth trying once. And probably only once.

beeruse-copy (average score= 3.66)

Hopageddon, Napa Smith, 9.2%

hoppa

Sight: Cloudy dark golden body that looks like apple cider.

Smell: It smells like a breakfast of apple juice, cinnamon toast, and a fruity cereal.

Taste: Like it smells, this beer tastes like eating an overripe apple. There’s an lingering sweetness that balances the intense flowery hop flavor. Someone said it tasted like a cider with some hops.

Overall: For a double IPA dubbed Hopageddon, the group agreed that it was a dud. None of us were blown away by any sort of hops explosion that could usher in a new world. Napa Smith has here an odd double IPA that’s quite creamy for its style. Most reviewers appreciated the uniqueness of the beer, while others were simply confused and didn’t enjoy it (well, maybe just its high ABV).

beeruse-copy (average score= 3.5)

THE VERDICT

Both of the IPAs we reviewed were IPAs found off of the beaten path. Great Divide’s Titan is unique for an IPA and Napa Smith’s is the least hoppy and most fruity Double IPA of all time. While reviewers thought both were interesting enough, Titan IPA ends up living up to its name and comes out with the highest score in battle.

—-

The Russian Imperial Stouts

For our exploration of the Russian Imperial Stout–a historic style emerging in the 18th century–we reviewed two of the best: North Coast’s iconic Old Rasputin and Stone’s Imperial Russian Stout.

  VS  

Old Rasputin, North Coast Brewing, 9.0% ABV

rasp

Sight: Dark brown body with a small, creamy head that leaves a thick lacing as it travels down the glass.

Smell: Strong aromas of coffee, dark chocolate, and malts.

Taste: Reviewer Erica said it tastes like an espresso milkshake. Others described it as a german chocolate cake and a creamy chocolately dessert.

Overall: Surprisingly fluffy and airy, Old Rasputin was described as, pardon our French, “creamy as fuck.” Reviewer Amanda called it a “smooth journey through seduction” and that it was a “lovable” beer. Yeah, Rasputin, you creamy mystic you.

 (average score= 4)

Russian Imperial Stout, Stone Brewing, 10.5% ABV

stone

Sight: It looks like oil, with a pitch black body and no head.

Smell: Reviewer Suzy said that it smelled like “a shot I would be uncomfortable taking.” That shot must be Jameson, because others described the smell as such. There is also a woody and chocolately aroma.

Taste: We agreed that Stone’s Stout tastes a helluva lot better than it smells. The dominant flavors are fresh coffee, mocha, and dark chocolate, with a faint cherry note.

Overall: By this point in the night, there was more yelling of adjectives and less taking of notes However, we did manage to get our hands on one reviewer’s notes that summed up this beer by saying that it was “powerful, complex, and commands respect.” Thanks, Amanda, for your expert documentation skills!

 (average score= 4.08)

THE VERDICT

This final face off was the most hotly debated of the night (hello, the scores were 4 and 4.08). For readers at home, Amanda came up with this analogy on the fly: Old Rasputin is the lovely wife, with its creaminess, soothing quality, and warmth, and Stone’s Imperial is the gorgeous mistress, with it’s silky, dark, and intoxicating nature  (literally…at 10%, this was the most alcoholic of the evening). So, what do you want? The lovely wife or the gorgeous mistress? Either way, you win. These two are are both spectacular Russian Imperials–debatably the best of the style. The end of the night was a bit hazy after drinking all of these high ABV ales, but if I correctly recall, Old Rasputin, our lovely wife, was the overall winner for its exceptional creaminess.

beer makes us smile. the end.

beer makes us smile. the end.

Concluding Remarks: So, beer is awesome. After a night of smelling, moderate-to-heavy drinking, and discussing these beers, I think all participants walked away with a renewed love of all things malts and hops. We would like to thank everyone who came out and made this event possible, as well as Bar Great Harry for pouring us a gazillion beers. Stay tuned for more tastings and events in the future!

Categories: India Pale Ale, Stout | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Samuel Adams Merry Mischief

Beer: Merry Mischief
Brewery: Boston Beer Company
Style: Sweet/Milk Stout
ABV: 9.0%

samginger

Serving Style: Bottle
Drinking Establishment: Chez Wood
Primary Consumer: Kerensa

——–

OVERALL RATING:

beeruse-copy

Sight: Black as a rural night’s sky during the new moon. There’s a dense tan head that looks particularly scrumptious.

Smell: It smells a bit like rubbing alcohol at first, but it mellows out to a more appealing aroma, with notes of coffee, smoke, pumpernickel, and wet bark.

Flavor: The standard flavors you would expect from a stout are elevated with a slew of holiday spices, notably ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and clove. There are some sweet cherry and plum flavors, too.

Feel: Dry, medium body with medium carbonation. It’s just a little burn-y from the high ABV.

Concluding Remark:  When I saw that Sam Adams’ seasonal release, Merry Mischief, was a GINGERBREAD Stout, I had my reservations. I was expecting something akin to Starbucks’ every growing line of holiday drinks: too sweet and too much artificial flavor. However, Sam Adams has kind of blown me away. They have created an (Imperial) Sweet/Milk Stout that is dense with both flavor and alcohol. Merry Mischief has a solid stout backbone and is amped up with a injection of holiday goodness. It tastes like a gingersnap cookie, with less sugar and more malts.

Overall, Merry Mischief makes for a pretty great holiday stout. At $9, it’s a little pricey for a Sam Adams–I might pick up a Belgian Christmas Ale instead–but it’s widely available and different than most beers you’ll be drinking this season. I say, go ahead. It’s not an excellent stout, but it’s a fine holiday beer.

funny elf

This is a Keebler Elf-approved beer.

Categories: Holiday, Stout | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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

——–

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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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

——–

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

——–

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

——–

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

——–

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

——–

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.

——–

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.

——–

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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