Posts Tagged With: Beer reviews

Dogfish Head 75 Minute IPA

75 Minute IPA Tasting Notes:

  • Appearance: Clear gold with huge fluffy head, excellent lace.
  • Aroma/Flavor: Aromatic hops, very floral with touches of citrus fruit. Sweet.
  • Mouthfeel: Soft carbonation,  very drinkable.
  • Overall: Even better than on draft, a must try.

Rating: A+

For the first time ever Dogfish Head has released their fabled 75 Minute IPA in bottles. Previously, this was a brewpub exclusive (though a regular one). Once a week a single cask was tapped and ran until it was gone (usually within a day). The cask version – sometimes referred to as Johnny Cask – was a special blend of 60 Minute and 90 Minute IPA’s, and then finished and carbonated with maple syrup. Past beer events and festivals were able to occasionally procure a keg of “75 Minute IPA” which at the time was only the blend sans the maple. As such, Dogfish Head purists would scorn the 75 Minute kegs in favor of the more unique Johnny Cask. I was delighted that the bottled version would follow the Johnny Cask blueprint of using the maple syrup addition.

This is also one of the first Dogfish Head beers to use their new logoed 750ml bottles (the old ones had no logo and were shaped more like a bottle of champagne).

As a homebrewer I suppose that I preferred the old bottles, but as a fan of the brewery I am delighted with this new touch. The bottle is also slightly smaller at the base which ought to make these  easier to transport.

I have made the pilgrimage to visit Dogfish Head twice now, and both times the very first beer I ordered at the pub was the Johnny Cask. As such I have some experience with how this beer ought to taste, so let’s see how the new bottled version compares!

The most striking thing about this beer is the carbonation. Even with a gentle pour I was rewarded with 3 fingers of soft pillowy head. The white foam floats weightlessly atop a clear golden brew, and the retention is epic – I literally had to wait close to five minutes before drinking lest I don a foam mustache. Sticky thick lace gathers around my Duvel tulip beautifully. Yeah – the maple syrup is working its wonders on the carbonation here.

It is important to be aware that this beer is bottle conditioned – meaning that there will be some yeast sediment at the bottle of the bottle. So pour carefully, and leave the last ounce or two of beer in the bottle to prevent all of that yeast from spilling into your glass.

The aroma is definitely a blend of 60 and 90 Minute – you get the assertive citric punch that 90 Minute garners, as well as the more subtle and balanced malt-driven aspects of 60 Minute. With the addition of dry-hopping, this all Cascade brew is really rich in complexity. For those who don’t brew beer you may not realize that the timing of when hops are added during the boil of a beer will impact three elements: bitterness, flavor, and aroma. The earlier hops are added the more bitterness they will impart. Towards the middle of the boil flavor becomes the predominant quality the hops bring to the table. Finally, the hops added during the last minutes will impart mostly aroma. It is the skillful science of knowing just when to add your hops that make your favorite IPA’s so great. The philosophy at Dogfish Head is that if hops are added in small amounts throughout every moment of the boil, you’ll extract every possible nuance that the hops are able to impart. And, while it may not be entirely evident to some, I truly feel that the Dogfish Head IPA’s exhibit complexity that few, if any, other beers can match.

So, when you dig into the aroma of 75 Minute IPA you begin to notice all of this wonderful complexity. Very floral – the hops have imparted a bouquet of soft and delicate sweet honeysuckle and clover honey. The beer is awash with citrus notes as well. Faint sweet grapefruit and tangerine are predominant, as is a much more subtle lemon aspect. The malt has a crackery white bread aroma to it. Definitely a wonderful beer to just stick your whole nose into the glass and savor the aroma.

The flavor is every bit as wonderful as the aroma is. Floral hops dance over the palate along side a bitterness that I can only describe as juicy and balanced. Sweetness is deliciously evident, and it is terribly difficult to pinpoint the source. I truly feel that the hops are adding some amount of the notion of sweetness, but most of it ought to be derived from the malts. The maple syrup is also a possible contributor, though most of it ought to have fermented out during the bottle conditioning phase. In any case, combined with the soft creamy carbonation, 75 Minute IPA is proving to be a delightful beer to enjoy.

Overall I am sincerely impressed. I actually want to say that this is even better than I remembered it at the brewery (though I do feel that cask beers lose out somewhat in the aroma department given the large lack of carbonation to help carry it to the nose and over the palate). My biggest complaint, well, my only complaint, is that this is sold in 750ml bottles. I was really anticipating this being sold as a 4 pack when it was announced last year that it would be bottled. And while $7.99 is the cheapest 750ml bottle that Dogfish Head sells, I do feel that it ought to be slightly cheaper. In any case – a truly excellent beer and well worth the effort to find one (or three). Well done Dogfish Head.

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Texas Brown Ale – aka TBA

This afternoon I am sitting down with a collaborative effort by three breweries: Bear Republic and Stone out of California and Fat Head’s out of Cleveland, OH. The beer is called TBA which stands for “Texas Brown Ale.” As I understand it, this beer is a throwback to the early days of craft brewing, and stems from a recipe that used to be brewed by home brewers. The beer was so uncharacteristic for any style at the time it kept losing in competitions despite being popular (and quite tasty). It finally was accepted into the newly formed “California Dark” category in a Houston, TX competition.

If you’re looking for more info on the history and making of this beer please check out Stone’s blog on the subject.

The back of the bottle describes a Christmastime brew day between the three brewers full of the whimsy of nostalgia and new ingredients (apparently this is the first time that Stone has brewed with Cascade hops, which are typically one of the most prevalent varieties in most modern American breweries today.

In addition to various other hop additions and specialty malts, TBA was brewed using molasses and brown sugar. Don’t let the brown color or molasses/malty descriptors fool you though – this was brewed at Stone, and is meant to be an all0American style brown ale. As such, expect this bad boy to be richly hop-forward and much more bitter than that Brooklyn Brown Ale or Newcastle that you might be enjoying this St. Patty’s Day at home.

For now freshness shouldn’t be a question: it’s only been brewed once and was released just a couple weeks ago. That said, I do believe that there is a typo or oversight on the bottle. On the back there is a signature from Mitch Steele (Brewmaster of Stone). Underneath it is dated “January 2011). Either it was supposed to say “January 2012” – the likely time of bottling/label approval, or it’s just an old quote/old format from these collaborative releases. Either way, I find it a tad conflicting when you consider that on the side of the bottle it states “Drink fresh. Do not age.”

TBA Tasting Notes:

  • Appearance: Hazy appearance, the color of muted sarsaparilla. Tall creamy head.
  • Aroma/Flavor: Molasses is strong, as is a fruity yeast element with pine hop presence.
  • Mouthfeel: Muted carbonation, thick, lingering bitterness.
  • Overall: A fun beer, well priced for a specialty single, worth a trip down memory lane.

Rating: B/B+

The Review:

Poured into a Stone Ruination Pint glass. I know that pints are typically taboo for the most serious of craft beer nerds, but I prefer to serve a beer in a brewery-specific glass whenever possible, and as far as pints go – this one is pretty damn bad ass.

On the pour the beer quickly produces a huge head. From my own homebrewing experience, I’ll chalk that up to the usage of brown sugar – which can be difficult to control if it doesn’t ferment out completely before bottling. At 3 fingers it took a while to empty the entire bottle into my pint.

The foam cap is creamy and dense (what I often liken to a meringue). Lace is minimal, but does follow each sip on the inside half of the glass. The color I am comparing to is sarsaparilla and the beer showed some considerable chill haze which clear up rather well as the beer warms. Once clear, this brown ale takes on a bright garnet hue when held to the light.

The aroma is striking. From a distance, after popping the cap but before the pour I was already smelling the dark sugars of the molasses. In the glass, the beer is semi-sweet with aromas of snickerdoodle. Add in the fruity esters from the yeast and fruitcake isn’t entirely out of the question in the list of aromas one might discover. The hops are very bold in the taste, but take time and warmth to truly show their colors in the aroma. Once warm though, green leafy hops and pine bough present themselves.

After the first sip however, you won’t doubt the hop schedule again – very forceful hop flavors rush at you from the onset. Bitter pine and spruce flavors mingle with greener grassy notes. Very minimal white grapefruit pith character on the back end. The malt is not nearly as apparent as the bottle description might have you believe, but it is there. I imagine without the stronger darker malts this would be bitter enough to teeter on Double IPA territory perceptible IBUs. There’s some mild roast and a sweet breadiness.

The mouthfeel is fairly creamy with subdued carbonation. The green hop flavor lingers as does some residual bitterness. A tad sticky and coating on the palate.

Overall I liked this beer. TBA starts off unique, carries a large hop punch midway, and ends even better than it began if you can stand to wait long enough for it to warm. Priced reasonably ($2.99-3.99 for the single). Definitely worth a shot if you come across this fresh.

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Samuel Smith’s Organically Produced Lager Beer

Tasting Notes

  • Appearance: Bright golden yellow, very clear
  • Aroma/Flavor: Noble hop aromas – herbal and a bit vegetal, notes of lemon and white bread
  • Mouthfeel: Crisp, clean, refreshing, quaffable
  • Overall: Great value, quite satisfying, and organic to boot!

Rating: B+


On my way home from work tonight my wife sent me on a run to the grocery store for some last-minute ingredients for some cookies she was baking. Of course, this was a perfect excuse to grab myself a beer. I was in the mood for something lighter, as I have mostly stouts and high abv beers sitting at home. I chose this as a suitable option to meet my needs for something lighter.

On the plus side here, Samuel Smith is distributed to the majority of the country, and is typically easy to find, and quite affordable. My local Giant Eagle sells 8-10 different Samuel Smith beers. Currently, this, the oatmeal Stout, and the Nut Brown are on sale for $2.99 a bottle (550ml or ~18.5 oz). Not a bad deal at all.

The Review

I poured most of the bottle into a stein simply because I get so few opportunities to actually use a stein – let alone one in which a stein is called for. Happily the large format bottle and the lager style lend themselves perfectly to using a large glass like this.

Organic Lager pours with excellent clarity to a bright golden brew. The head isn’t particularly tall, though I got the feeling that if you wanted a full 4 fingers a little effort might have produced it. The 2 fingers of height I did get are bone white and once receded, remains as a short cap atop the beer. Very consistent bubbles visibly rise up through the beer.

At first the aroma seems a little musty and vegetal the way many lagers can be. It’s definitely not skunked, but similar. Pushing past this, one can also pick out a bit of lemon zest and noble hops.

Crisp and refreshing, Organic Lager tastes full of noble hops – above and beyond the average lager – just as the label claims. The malt is smooth and bready. Very clean finish.

Overall a simple but surprisingly enjoyable beer. This pleasantly scratched my itch for something more quaffable.

Now I am thinking that I’d like to pit this beer against Noble Pils in the spring. Samuel Smith vs Samuel Adams. I could easily see myself preferring this beer.

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Cigar City Brewing – Marshal Zhukov’s Imperial Stout

Tasting Notes

  • Appearance Thick and oily. Dense. Dark frothy head. Black as night.
  • Aroma/Flavor Fudge and char are supreme. Very sweet. Rich like a dark chocolate dessert.
  • Mouthfeel Thick and viscous. Moderate carbonation. Sticky, with well-hidden alcohol but still a sipper at 11%.
  • Overall Satisfying. Serve as a dessert beer with friends or late in the lineup at a tasting.

Rating: B+

Tonight I opened another bottle from Cigar City Brewing down in Tampa, FL. Presented in a 750ml size bottle with a brief description of the beer on the label.

This Russian Imperial Stout is dedicated to Georgy Zhukov, arguably one of the finest generals of World War II. Opaque black in color, with notes of espresso, chocolate, dark toffee and hints of backstrap molasses. The English hop varietals provide a subtle herbal dryness, and finishes with a hearty slap of roasty espresso. Pair Marshal Zhukov’s with Mushroom Solyanka, dark chocolate, cherries and ground wars in Russia.


Each year they release their acclaimed Russian Imperial Stout – Marshal Zhukov’s. The release at the brewery has grown in size and proportions, culminating in a very special party this summer in which 30 customers got to have a traditional Russian dinner in the brewery freezer. They walked away with some special beer and a sweet-ass hat.

Marshal Zhukov’s release party, Aug. 3, 2011.

So, the brewery seems to have a lot of fun with this one. Let’s see how much enjoyment I can find in this Iron Curtain in a bottle…

The Review

Poured into a Cigar City snifter, Marshal Zhukov’s is as thick as they come.  With the consistency of the unchanged sludgy oil of an obsolete model WWI-era tank, this Russian Imperial Stout promises to be a slow sipper already. The head cascades upwards with the pour to produce a wonderfully dark foam cap the color of fudge. This slowly fades back into the blackness of the brew beneath. The foamy head is thicker than the ranks of the Russian infantry. Lacing is intermittent but thick – a wall of opposition rushing to meet the opposing perfection of the glass. But glass grows brittle in cold; the Germans are being staved off with the aid of Marshal Zhukov.

The aroma on this behemoth brew is deep and robust. Roast is like careening grapeshot – explosive and devastating. Hidden within that grapeshot is the seed of fruit aroma – berry and raisin. There’s an interesting mustiness lingering in this beer, one that makes one think that there are some English counterparts to the Red Army pent up inside the bottle. There is also a ton of sweetness to consider here – coffee cake and fudge and all of the sweet sticky residuals of unfermented body-enhancing malt sugars.

If the aroma is the artillery clearing a path to victory, then the flavor is the general infantry’s sound to charge. Dark fudge and bitter char render your palate a wasteland – just as any long-used battlefield becomes through history. There’s some ashiness going on, but the density of the beer helps to mediate an attribute that can be a bit drying and gritty in other beers. The biggest thing of note though, is the sweetness. It’s a great treat to sip on, but it can be a bit much to take in at times as well. The mouthfeel is thick and silky with moderately low carbonation. The alcohol – clocking in at 11% – is never as oppressive as the Axis opposition, but it does creep up on you and also adds as another limiting factor on the beer’s drinkability.

Overall a really nice Russian Imperial Stout, this Marshal Zhukov’s… I highly recommend sharing with comrades; it’s big, bold, heavy, and sweet. I would really enjoy trying this barrel aged though!

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Olde Hickory Brewery – Weizen-Bock

Tasting Notes

  • Appearance: Clouded peach color with a short head and nice lacing.
  • Aroma/Flavor: Heavy banana and clove spiciness – akin to a hefeweizen. Sweet.
  • Mouthfeel: Moderate to high carbonation, sticky, a tad boozy.
  • Overall: A slightly different take on the style, but tasty nonetheless. Give it a try and share with friends.

Rating: B


Weizenbock is a German style of wheat beer. While bock is a style that is traditionally a lager, a weizenbock is often an ale. This example is presented in a waxed 22oz bottle. The wax exudes class and a hand-crafted touch – stamped on top of the bottle is the brewery’s initials and on the front is the year (2011).

The label portrays a horned goat atop a mountain – traditional symbolism in a German style beer – I am reminded of Spaten. The label description reads:

“Our Weizen-Bock was inspired by the rugged majestic beauty of the Alps. Brewed with malted wheat and barley, select German hops and a special Bavarian yeast. This handcrafted beer is best enjoyed in the company of good friends.”

So far I am liking what I see. Sadly, Olde Hickory’s beer does not get out very far from home – Hickory, NC. For a brewery more readily known for its stouts, Weizen-Bock is shaping up to be a nice treat. And at 8% abv, this will help to stave off the chill of the encroaching onset of winter.

The Review:

The green waxed bottle does not pose too much difficulty in relinquishing the prize sealed within. While some wax is so brittle it will chip infinitely all over your rug, or so pliable that it creases rather than peels, the wax used here is easy to remove with the blade on a wine corkscrew.

I appropriately poured the majority of the bottle into a large stein. The ensuing cap of foam never gains much height, but it is thick and sticks around long enough to appreciate the view. The beer itself is an unfiltered ripened peach color. Lacing is inconsistent but is also something worth appreciating at times.

The aroma is possibly the best part of Olde Hickory Weizen-Bock. Immediately one is reminded of all the best hefeweizens out there. While this aspect might be somewhat beyond the scope of the weizenbock style, I really enjoyed it nonetheless. Clove spiciness is really big in the aroma, as is an orgy of super-ripe banana. I didn’t order any hefeweizen, but hey, somebody’s gotta drink it! There are also nice floral notes of honey and sweet, chewy biscuit malt.

Once you really dig into the beer, each sip rewards the palate with waves of clove and bright orange blossom sweetness. The yeast and wheat combine to create a very traditional olde world Bavarian style beer. The aftertaste is sticky and coats the mouth with notions of boiled corn and noble hops. The alcohol starts off rather muted, but towards the end of the glass some warmth builds steadily in the back of the throat.

Overall this is a pleasantly drinkable beer despite the 8% abv. Quite sweet at times, but this plays well off of the estery yeast used. It may be difficult to track down unless you live in North Carolina, but definitely worth a try when you’re looking for a more simple offering next to all of those more hyped up Double IPA’s and Imperial Stouts out there.


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Cigar City Brewing – Guava Grove Saison

Cigar City Brewing Company out of Tampa, FL is one of the hot new rising stars in the craft beer world. They prolifically brew and bottle more new beers than virtually any other brewery of its size. Their beer is so popular it is tough to find within the reaches of Florida, let alone the market or two outside of the state that see Cigar City’s distribution.

Tonight I decided to finally crack open my bottle of Guava Grove Saison. A saison is a Belgian/French style beer that is typically light in body and color, higher in carbonation, and full of estery funk. Now, “funk” may sound like a bad word to some people, but in the beer world it can often be a good thing. In a proper saison, the funk would entail bready peppery notes, as well as some banana esters commonly associated with many Belgian styles (also very common in Hefeweizens). Funk in saisons may also include descriptors such as: dry, dusty, spicy, fruity, cheesy, grassy, etc.

There have been reports that this beer in its older forms had begun to go sour – usually a sign of infection – meaning that some element of yeast or bacteria got introduced into the beer causing unwanted effects. However, in this case, the infection wound up being a positive. Most reviews seem to agree that the older bottles (and aged bottles of the more recent batches) are better. I believe that this bottle was brewed sometime in the winter/spring of 2011, and has been in my cellar since I received it in a trade box this summer.

The Review

One of the more elegant-looking labels from Cigar City, Guava Grove is sold in 750ml bottles.

I popped the cap and was almost immediately greeted by a steadily rising rush of foam. I wiped it off, and it was replaced even faster than before. Uh, oh… looks like a gusher here. Once I managed to reign in the foam enough to pour some of the beer the pressure still managed to force some beer onto the floor. Not the best way to start things off… Later, upon closer inspection I could see corrosion on the inside of the cap. How old is this bad boy?

I poured Guava Grove appropriately into my Cigar City snifter. The beer is now very cloudy due to the roused yeast sediment from the gushing pressure. Nevertheless, the beer isn’t all that bad to look at. It’s a nice ruddy apricot color, and a hay-hued head is quick to rise and very slow to subside. Pillowy formations were easy enough to force above the edges of the glass without risking spillage. Both a good and bad sign in my book. The fear at this point, is severe over-carbonation. And at first, this was precisely the case. However, if you allow this one to sit and settle for a few minutes before you drink it, and if you take things slowly, the carbonation does eventually settle back into a more tolerable level. Finally, by the time I was midway through the second pour, I was starting to see some really nice smearings of lace on the front of the glass.

The aroma immediately starts to redeem any negative aspects of the beer’s appearance. While faint, the aroma of guava is never far off. It certainly made me think of rum punch and the Caribbean initially. As the beer warms however, a large dosage of bretty funk wades in. It’s a sort of mineral/dusty type of aroma. The saison aspects are there in spirit, but never shine through like they would have when the beer was fresh. Other than brett, the yeast is playing little role in the aroma of this beer. I don’t think this was brewed with all brett, so I must assume the saison yeast strain is dying off with age. What we are left with, interestingly enough, is something mildly tart with nice fruity undertones and a smooth sweetness.

As you sip Guava Grove the beer impresses even more. Where the aroma was just starting to show the beginnings of tartness, the flavor embodies actual sourness at times. It’s never biting or overwhelming, mind you, but the sourness is assertively present. Notions of tangerine and bitter pomelo mingle with the guava. However, all through the experience the heavy carbonation rears its ugly head. As I type this the bottle has been open nearly two hours and still I am experiencing discourteous carbonation issues with each sip. While not detracting enough to keep me from finishing the bottle, it is enough to reduce my appreciation for all of the nuance a beer like this might have had in its glory day.

Overall – a fun beer to drink, and without the brett infection/over-carbonation, the beer might have been a real gem. Worth trying, but maybe not quite enough so to seek out actively.

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Samuel Adams Tasman Red

This beer is described as a “Red IPA” on the label. While not actually a unique style, it’s not tough to imagine what to expect here. Hopefully the brew will deliver both as an IPA and a nice malty beer.

6.5% abv

The malts used are listed, but unless you are a brewer they won’t tell you much. Special B and Caramel 60 are among those listed, suggesting a mild fruity/raisin flavor along with light caramel/toffee notes, though these are likely in smaller amounts that will impart more color than flavor.

Of greater interest to me are the hops: Galaxy and Topaz from Tasmania. Both are newer varieties to the scene of craft brewing, and few brewers seem to have openly experimented with them yet. I have found Galaxy hops to be very floral and elegant with hints of mild fruit and pine.

I bought this beer while at The Andersons in Columbus, though I imagine it will be showing up all over (I hope at least). When the label approvals for this series went through earlier this year I was more excited for trying new Sam Adams than I have been in a long while. I have not yet found this at a regular grocery store. Look at places like Whole Foods or Heinens that typically carry a broader beer selection, or even better, at a dedicated bottle shop (a beer and wine centric location, sometimes doubling as a liquor store). The value was excellent, $4.99 for the 22oz bottle (called a bomber).

The beer comes in an elegantly unique bomber with one of the best Samuel Adams labels to date. Listed as Batch No. 1. Not sure if that means batch 1 of Red IPA or batch 1 of the limited series.

Poured into a Duvel tulip (though this would be a perfect beer for the over-sized Perfect Pint glasses that are floating around out there).

Pooled in the glass the beer is a deep purple color (and very nearly brown porter territory). However, held in the light the Tasman most certainly is red. Well, at least a dark glowing shade of garnet. The head is aged-linen white and tall. Head retention is minor but the lace is thick and plentiful.

The aroma is swath with the elegant floral bouquet of the galaxy hops. Underpinnings of pine and citrus are found digging deeper into the tulip. Caramel malts provide a nice counterpoint without ever getting sweet.

More bitter and hop forward than I first guessed, Tasman Red is a formidable beer. And perhaps appropriately so, I found that the malt flavor is nowhere near what the color would suggest. I was hoping for a better marriage of malt and bitterness. That said, pine resin is checked somewhat by dry fruity maltiness. As the beer warms, the pine hop flavor is also accompanied by some twiggy spiciness.

Strong carbonation with a dry finish. Quite bitter with fairly obvious alcohol notes.

Overall an impressive beer and at a great price. I have more hope for the others in this series now. Seek it out.

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Great Lakes Brewing Co. – Blackout Stout

The wait is finally over. At last those lucky enough to live within the breadth of Great Lakes’ distribution can once more buy Blackout Stout. One of the most highly acclaimed beers by the brewery, Blackout Stout went over a year between bottling runs due to an odd change in the seasonal release time tables for Great Lakes. To be honest, as much as I – a Cleveland native – adore Christmas Ale, I was looking forward to the release of this even more than the holiday brew.


Reasonably priced at $9.99 a 4-pack, Blackout Stout is priced typically for their seasonal lineup. I recommend chilling this well first, and then allow it to slowly warm as you sip it. You’ll notice that it feels thicker and the aroma/flavor is more roasty and sweet while cold, and warmer the carbonation opens up – as do the hops. Either way, I strongly urge anyone to savor this beer fresh. In true Russian Imperial Stout form, it is well-hopped, and meant to be so. The bold fresh hop flavor here is unbeatable.

I poured my Blackout Stout into a snifter – the glass of choice for a prized stout. The shape of the glass allows the aroma to build and focus as you inhale. A sizable dark graham cracker colored head rises swiftly atop a beer as dark as the nights of the 2003 blackout for which this beer takes its name. Excellent cracked patterns of lace plaster the sides of the glass after each sip.

The aroma is rich with roasted barley and dark chocolate richness. Earthy hops manage the difficult task of reigning in all of the malty goodness of Blackout Stout. Creamy and silky, this beer begs to be inhaled both literally and figuratively.

Great Lakes once again proves its mettle with this beer. An exercise in both balance and bold flavor – explosive hops battle with the rich weighty malt. Chocolate flavors grow in intensity with warmth. Sweet and citrusy hops kiss your palate before leaving a wallop of lingering bitterness. Roasted grains and char add a different level of bitterness, as well as a dry and full mouthfeel. The body of the beer is slightly thin for a Russian Imperial Stout, but you’d never miss it given how much is going on here. The finish reminds of me cocoa powder and is pleasantly coating. The textural depth of Blackout Stout serves to offset the body, and where I felt the beer seemed thin the other night, after a few bottles I am settling into the resolution that the beer’s mouthfeel is perfect as is.

One of my favorites from Great Lakes, Blackout Stout is back. Look for it in stores now. It ought to last longer than Christmas Ale will, but given the extensive absence of the beer last year, I don’t expect to be still seeing this mid-winter.


Last year at the Barrel-Aged Blackout Stout release I had the privilege of doing a side-by-side tasting of a 4 year vertical of Blackout Stout. The vintages were 2007-2010. My notes:

2010 (fresh): Most hoppy/bitter, but most bold flavor. This is my favorite way to drink the beer.

2009: The hops are fading, and the beer is in a weird intermediary stage where the age hasn’t had enough time to improve anything.

2008: The best of the vintage versions. The hops are all but gone, and the beer is sweeter, more balanced, and very smooth without losing all of the roasty goodness that the malt brings to the table.

2007: Tasty, but extremely sweet. Vanilla and oaken flavors abound. This is showing the beginnings of oxidation. The roast has gone the way of the hop – it is disappearing.


I hope to do a full review of the Barrel-Aged Blackout after the next release of it, so I will save my notes for then. But I will say that it is highly recommended. One of the most balanced barrel-aged stouts out there. So if you like some bourbon flavor without all of the alcohol burn, seek out a bottle or two next year.

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