Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Review: Southern Tier's Warlock

It's no secret that I love Pumking. It's just the best pumpkin beer on the market. With biscuit malts, vanilla hints, and plenty of spices as well as pumpkin malt, it's superb! It tastes like liquid pumpkin pie. Year after year, Southern Tier have outdone themselves with this brew, and this year they've changed it up a bit by re-inventing Pumking for their Blackwater Series, which includes such great brews as Plum Noir and Creme Brulee. This year they've added a stout version of Pumking to the series called Warlock.

I've already had a glass to test the waters, which I usually don't do before reviews, and I must say it's a knockout. So let's dissect this magical Warlock!

Appearance: 3/5

Warlock is black as night, though has about 95% opacity with a slight orange-amber undertone. The head isn't very impressive, only pouring about a half finger's worth even at just below room temperature. However, the color is definitely that of a stout.

Nose: 4/5

Pumpkin malt hits the nose strongly, yet subtly. Thought it's the most prominent aspect of this beer's aroma, the aroma as a whole is rather subliminal. Spices come through as well, although they are subtle just as the pumpkin notes. I'd say the spices and pumpkin malt are tied in the aroma, and no other darker malts seep into the nose. But there's also a nice hint of vanilla in the nose, which is a great rounding factor.

Taste: 5/5

The combination of a stout and Pumking is apparent, but lovely. Spicy pumpkin malts meet darker molasses and a roasty tone along with pumpkin, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Pie crust and caramel accompany all this to make a strong, dark, yet still pumpkin-pie-esque flavor. It hits me every time I take a sip: this is Puming, but something different. It's all I like about a pumpkin beer and some things I like about a stout in on beer.

Mouthfeel: 3.5/5

Warlock has about a medium body with some dark roastiness. Slightly creamy, and overall very enjoyable, yet drinkable.

Finish: 4/5

Some notes of nutty roastiness and vanilla stick around on the palate. Some spice and valinna lingers for a while, too. All the best things about the pumpkin pie flavor mixed with the stout roastiness.

Total Score: 88/100

This is something new, interesting, and damn near excellent. Each sip hits me with the pumpkin and spice flavors and reminds me of Pumking, while it still has its own roasty and dark body to make it different. At only $10 a bottle, it's not too bad, either. Just a couple bucks more than a bomber of Pumking. If you come across it and you're already a fan of Pumking, pick up a bottle It's well worth it and very drinkable.

Until next time, cheers!


Thursday, October 24, 2013

Review: Blue Mountain Barrel House's Sour Devil

Hey, beer aficionados! I'm doing a review tonight of a beer I've had my eye on for a couple days: Sour Devil by Blue Mountain Barrel House. It's interesting that this Virginia-based brewery limits itself to mostly barrel aged and bottle conditioned beers. It's nice to see some people are embracing the art of barrel aging in full!

Sour Devil caught my eye because I've been looking for a nice sour beer lately, after enjoying Dogfish Head's Festina Pesche so much. That was my first foray into the world of sour beers, which can be a very crowd-dividing style of beer. For instance, when two buddies and I tried a nice sour ale on tap at an Alamo Drafthouse cinema, one one of my friends and I liked it. My other friend hated it.

But then I had a closer look at the bottle today and discovered that this was no simple 750ml bottle of sour beer, but rather a sour barrel aged stout. So that was a pleasant surprise. But just how does this sour stout hold up? Let's have a look...

Appearance: 5/5

This stout pours ridiculously well! With a full three fingers of medium tan head and a 95% opaque color, it looks positively scrumptious. Honestly, I'm as impressed with the look of this stout as I was with Ommegang's Take The Black Stout. The head leaves incredible lacing, as well.

Nose: 4/5

What's most interesting about the aroma of this stout is that it smells like whiskey. It has pungent wood and cork malt notes with some equally pungent alcohol smell. It's strong, but woody. There are also some great notes of bourbon and underlying roasty malts.

Taste: 4/5

Well, this sure is a beer that has thrown me for a loop. It's a sour stout. That's quite a bizarre combination. The most immediate taste I get with each sip is a deeply sour wine taste. As a fan of sours, though, it's a cool feature. Though the taste starts sour, it warms and sweetens as I taste it, and thus gives up some other flavors: dark chocolate and some good roasty, earthy-feeling notes.

Mouthfeel: 3.75/5

Sour devil has a nice darker body, but it almost feels medium-bodied because of the sourness. It's a tart, roasty experience for the palate.

Finish: 4/5

Though this stout starts sour, it finishes sweet with notes of chocolate, coffee, and a little coconut.

Total Score: 80.5/100

This is a very unique stout experience. Second to, perhaps in superseding, Weyerbacher's Tiny stout, Sour Devil is sour, roasty, and fully enjoyable. At 10% ABV, it is something to take in lightly, but grab a bottle and enjoy it! It may not be the thing for you, because it is very sour and atypical for a stout. Still, if you're a sour fan and a stout fan, like myself, go for it!

Until next time, cheers!


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Review: Alesmith's Evil Dead Red Ale

I've finally found an ale that just screams Halloween, and it's this blood-red offering from Alesmith Brewing Company: the Evil Dead Red Ale. I love the rhyme in the name, and the printed-on label is just great. And the gimmick to this beer? It has an ABV of 6.66%. The percentage of the beast!

Oh, and before I begin, I want to announce a change in format. Due to recent deliberating on Reddit, I've adopted a new rating system. Instead of giving each factor of the beer (appearance, nose, taste, etc.), I will be doing a percentage-based rating system from this point forward. Don't worry, the helpful scores out of 5 will still be there, but there will be a whole new system working behind the scenes, so don't get confused if the final score seems off. The appearance, mouthfeel, and finish of each beer I review will be weighted with a lower percentage so as to get an accurate rating of how each beer holds up, giving more weight to the nose and taste of them. To break it down, the appearance will be 5% of the total, the nose 25%, the taste 50%, and the mouthfeel and finish will each be 10%. And then the scores will be added up to a weighted score out of 100. All of my previous reviews' final scores will be recalculated to fit this model of scoring, as well.

So, I'll jump right into this Halloween-themed review!

Appearance: 4.5/5

As far as red ales go, Evil Dead is a very deep red color. In fact, it's so deeply amber that it nearly looks like blood, just with less opacity. The carbonation is rather minimal, but the head is great. It's about a finger's worth of rich, creamy white head that sticks around extremely well!

Nose: 3/5

The biggest notes in this beer's aroma are those of pine and some citrusy grapefruit, brought on by the hops. I like that this red ale smells so much of the hops, rather than malts. It's always 50/50 with red ales in that regard. There's a little bit of toffee or caramel in the background, as well.

Taste: 4/5

Evil dead is sweet, yet hoppy. The balance makes it thoroughly enjoyable. Nice pine and grapefruit notes create a good hoppy base while sweet caramel and even some berry flavor that I can't quite place. The hop flavors don't make this ale overly bitter, though, which in nice. It's a smooth, sweet, yet moderately malty drinking experience.

Mouthfeel: 4/5

This ale has a medium body and a nice smooth feel. It's quite enjoyable, and not overly intrusive.

Finish: 4/5

The sweetness of the berries and the tanginess of the grapefruit stick around long after each sip. This ale has a wonderful finish, and a long one at that.

Total Score: 19/25

I really enjoyed the balance in this beer's flavor. Sweetness and some hop flavor. The head is amazingly resilient, too. Overall, a very solid red that I'd recommend you picking up a bomber of. Treat yourself to something fun for Halloween, beer drinkers!

Until next time, cheers!


Monday, October 21, 2013

Review: Weyerbacher's Tiny

I knew I had a lot of work to do on my Halloween costume tonight, so I decided to pick up a stout to have after the work paid off. And it did, by the way! Anyway, so I picked up Weyerbacher's imperial stout, ironically dubbed "Tiny" even though it clocks in at 11.8% ABV. It comes in a nice corked  750ml bottle, which I love. It's so satisfying uncorking a bottle of beer. I could have bought their Imperial Pumpkin Ale and done a review of that because. y'know, 'tis the season, but I've had it before, liked it, and didn't want to shell out the money for a four-pack of something I've tried already.

Anyway, I'll dive into this "Tiny" little stout now...

Appearance: 3/5

This beer sure looks like an imperial stout. It's black as night and looks very thick. I like the head on this, mostly for the color. It's a deep tan head; probably one of the better-looking heads I've seen. However, the head wasn't as big as I had hoped from an imperial stout. It poured only a finger thick and then quickly dissipated. Nothing left of it either. Not even a thin layer floating on top. So I'm about 50/50 about how this beer looks.

Nose: 4.5/5

Y'know, this smells like a very atypical stout. Usually a stout will smell roasty, nutty, and like coffee or chocolate. Apparently those things aren't in Weyerbacher's brewers' collective vocabulary. What I smell in Tiny's aroma are notes of molasses, but more importantly there are wine-like notes. It smells just like a red wine. This intrigues me to the highest degree, and I give Weyerbacher a thumbs up for originality!

Taste: 4/5

The taste of this beer is also rather interesting and unexpected. The first thing I taste, immediately, is a grape/sherry flavor. The grape fruitiness overtakes my palate, but the body isn't like a barleywine, so it's definitely stout-like. There's a good amount of creaminess, some smoky notes, and just hints of molasses, toffee, and a little toasted bread for body thickness.

Mouthfeel: 3.5/5

This is a rather light stout. It doesn't feel thick, but it is nice and creamy. The alcohol content is slightly astringent, but less so when tasted at room temperature.

Finish: 3.5/5

The molasses and a bit of roasty maltiness stays on the back of my tongue upon the finish. Some sherry is mixed into the finish, which is nice.

Total Score: 79.5/100

While I didn't think this stout looked overly appealing, I was impressed by the originality of it. The wine and grape notes were very refreshing, and coupled with deeper smoky molasses notes. The wine-like notes in this stout make it worth picking up for a truly different stout experience.

Until next time, cheers!


Sunday, October 13, 2013

Review Double-Header: Bell's Brewery's Two Hearted Ale & Best Brown Ale

It was a good day on Friday at DeCicco's Family Market when they rolled out the display of Bell's Brewery beers. This is the first time they've arrived in New York, and I was pretty excited to try some midwest beer. Bell's Brewery is located in Comstock, Michigan, and have just recently been able to distribute their beer further than PA.

I did some research on the brewery's website and found that they seem to have a solid core lineup of beers and four seasonal brews, while the rest of their time seems devoted to concocting specialty one-off brews. Their specialty offerings range from their Sparkling Ale (a Belgian Triple) to their whopping Black Note Bourbon Barrel Aged Stout, which is a combination of two of their most popular stouts mixed together and aged in bourbon barrels. Sounds like it'd definitely put hair on your chest.

DeCicco's got two good offerings from them: their Two Hearted Ale (a year-round IPA) and their Best Brown Ale (their robust autumn seasonal). I've been having a busy weekend, what with going up to Binghamton and enjoying a visit to Galaxy Brewing Co., so I've had a few of these brews and toyed with what temperature they are best served at and whatnot. Incidentally, Best Brown Ale is best served at just a tad below room temperature while Two Hearted Ale is best served chilled. I like them both, but now I'll take a closer look at them and give them some scores.

Two Hearted Ale:

Appearance: 4.5/5
I poured Two Hearted Ale into a snifter and find the appearance fascinating. It has a beautiful honey-amber color, as can be expected from a good IPA, but what I found better was the carbonation and head. The head started out, after a slow but vigorous pour, as nothing more than a half-finger's-worth of foam. But the extraordinary amount of carbonation increased it, as it sat and I eyeballed it, to a full finger's worth of thick, white head. There is good lacing as well.

Nose: 4/5
THA is hopped with Centennial hops, a nice piney/citrusy hop. Immediately, the notes of grapefruit are apparent in the nose. This aroma is coupled with strong notes of pine, which is nice. Too often I get the citrus aspect of Centennials in a beer and not enough of the pine goodness. But the balance in this aroma is great! Some notes of lemon peel seep through too, giving the aroma the tiniest sour kick.

Taste: 5/5
Definitely notes of pine and grapefruit. The interesting thing is that the taste starts very smooth and ushers in a wave of hoppy bitterness to couple with the hops' flavor notes. I like that there's a sweetness to this beer that makes it very drinkable. The malt presence is more in the finish, but I detect a kind of medium bready malt coupled with some sweet nuttiness that gives this beer a light-to-medium body. And for being 7% ABV, there wasn't a strong alcohol presence at all.

Mouthfeel: 3.5/5
As stated, the body is pretty medium. The strongest sensation upon sipping this beer is the bitterness that fills my palate. The malty undertones only become really prominent toward the end of each sip.

Finish: 3.5/5
Fruity bitterness lingers on the back of my tongue, and that's it. It doesn't oversaturate my palate with ridiculous amounts of flavors with each sip. The finish is simple, sweet, and smooth.

Total Score: 88.5/100

This is a very solid IPA with a lot of things right about it. The appearance is very luxurious, the hop flavors take center stage, and the malt backbone is nice. It's not an over-the-top IPA, but it is definitely a very good offering that has perfected the things that an IPA should be to near-perfection. Bell's is available in most of the lower northeast and midwest, so if you haven't checked this IPA out, you should go pick up a six-pack and enjoy!

Best Brown Ale:

Appearance: 4.5/5
Upon pouring Best Brown Ale, a light tan foamy head formed. It was a solid two fingers' worth of head and looked very nice. The beer's color is a dark brown/amber that has a reddish hue to it, but the beer itself is nearly 100% opaque. It's a handsome beer, and there is some good carbonation present.

Nose: 3/5
The aroma of this beer is more subtle, but there are some nice notes in there. Hints of chocolate and toasty bread come through. Not too much else is detectable, however, so the nose falls a little flat for me.

Taste: 5/5
Serving this beer at just below room temperature really brings out the bold dark flavors of this roasty brew. Slightly bitter chocolate malt takes center stage in the flavor while some solid biscuit/bread malts accompany it. There are some coffee notes in there too. It's a rather thick, dark beer full of my favorite brown ale/stout flavors.

Mouthfeel: 4/5
Best Brown has a bold body brought about by all the darker malts. Thick, rich, and creamy, this beer's body is delectable. A good amount of carbonation makes itself present as well.

Finish: 4/5
Best Brown goes down smooth and leaves some roasted nut and chocolate flavors lingering on my palate.

Total Score: 85.5/100

I tended to like Best Brown Ale a bit more than Two Hearted Ale. Not that they're exactly comparable due to them being two completely different styles of beer, but something about Best Brown's flavor complexity make me keep going back for more. The nose is a little subtle, but the flavors and body more than make up for it. This is a bold brown ale great for those crisp fall evenings.

So if you're in New York, I recommend trying to track down these two beers and sample some of Michigan's finest. Until next time, cheers!


[Above images from cheffresco.org & bellsbeer.com]

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Notes From The Tasting Room: Galaxy Brewing Co.

Here in New York we are blessed with a diverse range of craft brewing companies. From Lakewood's famous Southern Tier Brewing Company (makers of one of my top 5 beers, Pumking) to the biggest little brewery in my own backyard, Captain Lawrence Brewing Co. But I've noticed, though word of mouth and with the help of my co-blogger Chris, that there are tons of little breweries everywhere in this state. The odd thing is, right in the Binghamton/Endicott area, which got hit hard by the recession in years past, there are 5 nano-to-micro-sized breweries. There's the more prominent Water Street Brewing, the small-but-mighty North Brewery, Black Hat Brewery, Binghamton Brewing Co., and the star of this post - Galaxy Brewing Co.

Galaxy Brewing Co. has been brewing since 2011, but only recently - in fact, six weeks ago - have they opened up in a new spacious location. The interior of their newly-opened location is quite nice, and here's the thing: aside from brewing beers, they offer a full selection of lunch and dinner dishes for dining in while you enjoy their wares. The dining room is very open and new-age industrial in style. The chairs at the tables have aluminum frames, the ceiling is open to reveal pipe work, and it just looks really great.

The bar has aluminum facing on the outside just below the bar top to match the frames of the chairs. The bar top is wooden and finished with a dark stain that looks pretty much black in the lower lighting in the bar/dining room. It's a rather long bar that can fit probably 20-25 people. Granted, I wasn't counting.

And might I add that the bar staff were just awesome! The young woman who served my party and I our sampler paddles was friendly, open, and down-to-Earth. She was more than willing to discuss the brewery's digs, how they got started, and was very helpful in picking which beers to sample. The man who, at the end of my visit, filled up my growler, was enthusiastic and informative about the growler conditioning.

So, how does their beer stack up to their nice, funky interior and extremely helpful staff? Well, I sampled quite a few of their brews. I was with a party of three and we each got a sampler paddle of four beers. They have a total of 12 beers on tap at a time, and they make sure to check which ones are on currently on their very descriptive beer menus. I personally ordered samples of their Solar Flare, Octoberfest, Galaxy NY Harvest Ale, and their Mint Chocolate Stout. But I also got to taste their Brun Ale and Pulsar Porter from the paddle of one of the other two people in my party.

I liked this Octoberfest, and not for the usual reasons I like marzens. This particular marzen had a more medium body than I typically come to expect from this style of beer, but its spice notes were to die for. They were much more prominent than many other marzens I've tried.

Galaxy NY Harvest Ale:
This one was a little generic for my tastes, but every good brewery has to play the field and have some good, well-rounded, and not-too-bold beers for their not-so-adventurous patrons. Granted, I liked the piney hop notes to this and the solid fall-feeling malt flavor. It was good, just not stand-out.

Solar Flare:
This was one strong IPA, and I'm glad I was only having a sampler. Clocking in at nearly 8% ABV, this monster of a Belgian style IPA was loaded with the traditional Belgian flavors: citra hops and orange peel notes. Great, bold, citrusy hop flavors to this one!

Brun Ale:
This was an interesting brown ale. In fact, I got a growler of it because I liked it so much! It's a Belgian-style brown brewed with Dark Belgian Candi Sugar. I really liked the hop forward nature of this beer and the smokey, chocolatey finish. It really felt like with every sip there was a beginning, middle, and end! Just lovely.

Pulsar Porter:
This was one heck of a beer. A porter with a bold body, super thick creamy head, and flavor that rivaled Founder's Breakfast Stout. I kid you not! The powerful dark roast coffee notes in the nose and strong flavors of coffee and thick, dark malt flavors in the taste made this a stand-out brew for Galaxy. It's too bad it's nitrous-brewed beer and they can't fill your growler with it. :(

Mint Chocolate Stout:
The description on Galaxy's beer list simply reads, "Mint! Chocolate! Stout! Need we say more?" And they really don't. Granted, based on the reactions from the other two people in my party, this stout isn't for everyone, but I found it to be nifty. The mint came through strongly in the nose and it tasted sweet, just like a mint chocolate dessert square from Ghirardelli. It was like a dessert beer. I wouldn't have a pint of it, but I'd have a sampler glass any time.

And that was my experience. The members of my party and I thanked the staff graciously and I walked out with my nice growler full of Brun. If you're from upstate New York, or anywhere in New York for that matter, I implore you to check out this brand new brewery. Their beer is worth it, and they have a great menu of food. So get some friends together, head over to 41 Court Street in Binghamton, and have a sampler paddle!

In case you're more curious about their brewery or beer list, go to their website here: http://www.galaxybrewingco.com/index.html

Until next time, cheers!


[Above photos via galaxybrewingco.com]

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Review: Shipyard's Smashed Pumpkin

Autumn often leaves us beer drinkers in a never-ending search for the best pumpkin beer to enjoy for the season. Will it be Uinta's Punk'n? Or Southern Tier's Pumking? Or Cape Ann's Fisherman's Pumpkin Stout? It's always a battlefield. Throughout the season, one of the things you'll commonly see (and probably disagree with to some degree) are lists of the top ten pumpkin beers. Some can be enlightening and reveal even more pumpkin beers you need to go out and try, while other basically confirm what you already know to be true. Well, as a beer aficionado, I, too, have succumbed to the endless search for a truly great pumpkin beer. While I find Pumking to be the best (and that's just my opinion), I am always looking for the next best thing.

So I have gone through quite a good few pumpkin beers: DFH's Punkin Ale, Uinta's Punk'n, Pumking, Riverhorse's Imperial Pumpkin, Shipyard's Pumpkinhead... Ah, there was one that was kind of interesting. Pumpkinhead is good, but it is still mostly a pumpkin spice beer with not much of a body to boot. And yet it finds its way onto almost every pumpkin beer list. So I was glad to see Shipyard also has another pumpkin offering: Smashed Pumpkin from their Puglsey's Signature Series. It comes in single bomber bottles, but with a hefty 9% ABV, I'm not complaining. So let's give this beer a whirl, shall we?

Appearance: 4.5/5
I'm going to first comment on the bottle. It's a very nice bottle, or rather it has a very attention-grabbing label. The label is bright orange with a black panel in the center, there's gold writing across the top, and the label wraps all the way around the bottle. Also, the top is capped with gold foil.

Anyway, the beer itself looks rather nice. It pours a orange-amber color which looks immediately like a good pumpkin beer. There is plenty of carbonation, but not a ton of head; probably a finger's worth at best, and it dissipates to nothing rather quickly.

Nose: 3/5
I sense the traditional pumpkin spices - nutmeg and cinnamon - and also some other nice things. A sweetish honey scent graces my nose, along with some actual pumpkin malt. I like that I can detect the pumpkin in this beer, although the overall aroma is rather weak and leaves it hard to pick up on certain notes.

Taste: 4/5
The first thing I noted were the spices, but the flavor is bolder than that. Biscuit and light notes of vanilla round out this beer, as well as a deeper malt: pumpkin. The pumpkin flavor is definitely present in this beer, which is perfect! There are far too many pumpkin beers out there that just feel like spiced ales, so kudos to Shipyard for one-upping their own basic seasonal release. There are also notes of caramel in Smashed Pumpkin. The flavor closes out with the spicy notes, which is cool. It kind of feels like the beer's flavor is a story with a beginning, middle, and end. Heh.

Mouthfeel: 3.75/5
Smashed Pumpkin has a medium body which is brought to life by the pumpkin and bready malts. The astringency of the higher ABV is basically not present, leading to a smooth drinking experience.

Finish: 3.5/5
It goes down smooth and leaves behind cinnamon and caramel notes, as well as some of the biscuit malt. The aftertaste kind of feels like I just had a slice of pumpkin pie.

Total Score: 74/100

While this was significantly better than Pumpkinhead, and it does probably make it into my top 10 pumpkin beers (at least of this year), Smashed Pumpkin only goes so far. It looks nice, tastes great, and finishes smooth. However, the nose was a little disappointing. But still, this is a very solid pumpkin offering from Maine's biggest brewery (well, Allagash may be just as big, but Shipyard is definitely up there). Pick yourself up a bottle and enjoy!

Also, I query you, the readers: what are some of your favorite pumpkin beers of the 2013 season? Drop a comment below.

Until next time, cheers!


Review: Endless Brewing's Chocolate Cherry Stout

As I have grown to love beer, my tastes for beer have expanded as well. Dark beers like stouts and porters have become some of my favorite styles of beers. Combine that with a local brewery, consider me in heaven.

This review will be focusing on a local nano-brewery outside of Montrose Pennsylvania, Endless Brewing. This past weekend, I found myself in the area of Montrose and decided to give them a try. The brewery is run by a married couple (above) no older than 30 years old; both were very friendly and loved talking about beer. They had seven beers on tap and each one happened to be awesome and bursting with flavor. The brew I decided to fill a growler up with is their Chocolate Cherry Stout and boy was I glad I did.

Apperance: 4/5
The Chocolate Cherry Stout pours real smooth from growler to glass. It pours a nice dark, almost black, color with a slight reddish hue. There was very little head at all which was a let down but that typically happens with a growler. What head there was dissipated almost immediately. There is also little lacing throughout.

Nose: 4.5/5
When putting this beer to your nose, you are treated to some awesome aromas. At first, you are treated to a subtle hint of cherry but that quickly dissipates into a deep, malty chocolate scent. This is a great and awesome scent that really gets you in the mood to take your first sip.

Taste: 4.5/5
Chocolate Cherry Stout is a complex, but awesome-tasting brew. At first, it's a nice bitter, malty chocolate stout but as the beer moves to the back of your throat, a very subtle hint of cherry mixes in with the chocolate to provide you with that nice chocolate cherry stout flavor. It is almost like a chocolate covered cherry allowing this brew to burst with flavor, but the flavor is not overpowering whatsoever. It is just a very enjoyable flavor that any stout lover can enjoy. At 7.3% ABV, just make sure to pace yourself because you will want more than just one glass of this great beer.

Mouthfeel: 4/5
Chocolate Cherry Stout has a very nice, stout-like mouthfeel. It is a nice dark stout with a full body that will please the pallet. The carbonation of this beer is not overwhelming either.

Finish: 4.5/5
The finish to this brew is a nice and smooth malty chocolate-cherry-stout-like finish. The chocolate and cherry notes stay with you for a while between sips which is a nice touch to the beer. This will almost certainly leave you wanting more of this great brew.

Total Score: 88.5/100

This is a great beer from a great local nano-brewery. Endless Brewing have outdone themselves with this great stout. I must say, I did not know what to expect going to Endless, but once I left I was so impressed by the experience. For anyone in the Montrose area, you should do yourself a favor and try them out. Chocolate Cherry Stout is just one of the great beer choices on tap from Endless and I assure you, each brew will be excellent. Drink up!

Until next time,


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Review: Southern Tier's Crème Brulèe

I love Southern Tier, but more specifically I love their single-bottle releases. Even more specifically, I love their imperials (i.e. Pumking) and their Blackwater Series. The DeCicco's I work at only carries two offerings from the Blackwater Series: Plum Noir and Crème Brulèe. The former, which I've had and liked quite a bit, is an imperial porter brewed with italian plums. If you've never had a beer brewed with grapes (i.e. Dogfish Head's Midas Touch) or plums, give Plum Noir a whirl. It's quite tasty, with a welcome note of tartness.

But this review is focusing on Crème Brulèe (I may, at this point in the review, stop putting cutesy little accents on the "e"s), which is a stout brewed with vanilla beans. Before I dive into this beer, I will say I am putting a lot of faith in Southern Tier here. I've had beers like this before and they were, well, "meh". I tried Breckenridge's Vanilla Porter, for example, and found it to be smooth, vanilla-y, and to lack a body. But that's it. It didn't stand out to me. So to try something very similar is kind of a leap of faith for me. Was this bottle worth $10? Let's find out...

Appearance: 4/5
Creme Brulee pours smoothly. I poured some into a snifter. It is completely opaque and black. It definitely looks like a f***ing stout. The head was a little bit of a let-down, at least on this pour. I may try pouring more vigorously as I continue to enjoy the bottle, but upon this pour I got half a finger's worth of medium tan head which dissipated to a thin layer of creamy-looking head that remains for quite a while. There is also prominent lacing.

Nose: 4.5/5
Upon nosing Creme Brulee, I was knocked back by the strong aroma of vanilla. It's a mouthwatering wave of an aroma! It's rather hard to sift through such a powerful upfront smell, but I do smell some cocoa beneath the vanilla and a bit of nutty-smelling malt.

Taste: 5/5
It tastes like a milk stout, and a damn good one at that! Upfront creamy vanilla coupled with some dark malts. Nuttiness and hints of chocolate in the darker malts, as well as some light caramel notes. The beer is very sweet overall. It tastes just like a very rich dessert, and I'm definitely left wanting more!

Mouthfeel: 4.5/5
Creme Brulee is quite creamy and rich. It feels thick upon the pallet, which is great. This stout has a perfectly balanced body. Not too dark and heavy, and not too creamy. Just right for a milk stout.

Finish: 3.5/5
Upon the finish I got some light hoppy bitterness, which was humbling. The vanilla and caramel notes stick around afterward, leaving me salivating for more.

Total Score: 92.5/100

I must say, Southern Tier have really outdone themselves with this milk stout. I expected something a little less prominent going in and got a very alluring, creamy, aroma-filled experience. I'd definitely recommend this if you're on the fence about Southern Tier (which you shouldn't be, they do a bang-up job on most of their stuff). This beer is also notably great at room temperature. So grab a bottle a drink up!

Until next time, cheers!