In case you missed it, this is a little series about a recent ‘Stout Night’ I shared with my buddy, Jim. We tried 11 brews in all and my / our thoughts are summarized here in this two part review. If you missed part one, scroll down a bit to read it. So without further adieu, here’s part two.
The saga continues with the Left Hand – Milk Stout. OK, now were rockin’. The pour was deep and black, with a rich and creamy head. On the nose was a healthy dose of chocolate malt and coffee. Since this is a Milk Stout, there was a distinct sweetness to the nose as well – a nice touch. The flavor was excellent. It had most of the creaminess and roasted malt of ‘bigger’ stouts in the Imperial variety, but the general feel of the ber was still in the medium category. This is a highly drinkable, very enjoyable stout. I’m a fan.
Next up, Lion Stout. I’m a little biased on this one because I came into this tasting knowing that I love this stout already, and shocker, it held up like a champ. Even after the sweetness of the Milk Stout, the Lion’s flavor just seemed right. From the pour, to the head, the nose and flavor all are so consistent and refined that it’s hard to find an objective part of the beer to critique. If I were going to make a stout as my signature brew I would certainly try and model it after the Lion. Plus, it’s from Sri Lanka, which is just kinda cool. All those medals proudly displayed on the label tell you all you need to know.
We had a whole mess ‘o chocolate stouts to dive into, so we settled on the Fort Collins Chocolate Stout to kick us off. The nose was certainly chocolaty, but there were substantial notes of smoke and coffee in there as well. It ‘seemed’ like this was going to be a huge tasting beer. It wasn’t huge, in fact, I’d say it was kind of light. There was a medium-high carbonation, but that was ok, as it balanced the dominant smokey overtones nicely. My main critique would be the mouthfeel being a little on the light side. Although some may point to that quality as a plus, for me, the style needs to be a little on the heaver side. Overall, pleasant, but I’d like to taste a little more chocolate and have a little more body.
We didn’t spend too much time dwelling on the lightness of the Fort Collins because there was a huge bottle of the Rogue Chocolate Stout staring us in the face. Let me say that I really like Rogue beers. They have some of my all-time favorites, so I was excited to try the Stout. Whoa, the nose on this one was certainly different. Along with all the usual suspects in a Chocolate Stout, there was a pronounced hoppy thing going on in there. The Chocolate was jumping right out of the glass, but eventually faded back into the pack as the beer warmed. The flavor was dark chocolate and cocoa, almost like there was some Hershey’s syrup in there. In fact, I think they must have added some kind of adjunct because the mocha texture was not a typical roasted malt style, but more of a beer float. The most unique characteristic about this stout was it’s bitterness. Unlike anything else we tried, this Stout was actually bitter, and I’m not sure I loved that aspect of the flavor. My guess is that they’re trying to balance all that syrupy sweetness with something bitter, but personally, I think the bitterness and the sweetness are too far away on the tongue to be complimentary. It was just kind of awkward. Overall though, I enjoyed the bold chocolate flavor and it was a nice departure from the coffee side of the spectrum.
Did someone say chocolate? Oh yea, I did. As if there wasn’t enough chocolate going around, next up was the Young’s- Double Chocolate Stout. Double chocolate, huh? Is this an Imperial Chocolate then? Maybe a doppelchoc? OK, now I’m just entertaining myself. Back to the beer. From the first sip I was really into this beer. It was creamy and the carbonation was perfectly suited for the smooth mouthfeel. The chocolate seemed a little more refined – like a fine European dark – and made the beer lean a little more toward the cappuccino side of the spectrum. Also, although it wasn’t *twice* as chocolaty as the other brews, it was super silky and smooth. Highly drinkable.
Are we really at the last beer? Looks like it, and this one’s gonna be good. I know this because next up is the Brooklyn Beer – Black Chocolate Stout. We tried some of my favorite beers in this tasting – some (like the Lion) are a staple for me and are all-around excellent beers. That said, the Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout is, in my opinion, the best stout I’ve ever had. To me, this beer is in a class all by itself. Partly because it’s a 10.9 abv beer, which opens up a whole new category of Imperial style brews, but mostly because this beer, regardless of the alcohol content, is simply extremely well crafted. It has all the roasted malt goodness that you’d want in a stout, a perfectly blended chocolate sweetness, finished with a dry heat which rounds out the beer perfectly. Russian Imperials can sometimes overwhelm me towards the end of the glass, but this beer, being slightly lighter in feel than some others, is perhaps the most drinkable and enjoyable all the way through. If you get a chance to try one, do it, you wont be disappointed.
Wow, that was fun! I had a great time tasting all of these beers and having them back-to-back gave me a chance to really compare the differences in a way I’ve not done before. I hope you got something out of it, too. I’d love to hear some comments and thoughts about beers that didn’t make it into this tasting and maybe give me some suggestions on beers you think I might enjoy. Until then, Cheers! ~G