Date: Thursday, January 20, 2011
Beer: Hitachino Nest Espresso Stout
Category: American Stout
Brewed in: Japan
Pours clean black resembling a dark cup of coffee with a cappucino colored head. The head was thick and about two fingers in the glass provided at the Sugar Bowl. It faded rather quickly and left decent lacing on the glass.
The aroma is of espresso beans and dark chocolate. There is a distinct burnt smell. The coffee notes smell like a fresh espresso.
The taste is of strong and old coffee. The freshness you would hope for in the espresso flavor is lacking. Something is off about it (a bit of research has shown me this is probably because they add espresso beans directly to the boil). There is a nice taste of dark chocolate and roasted malts. There are not hints of hops in the beer.
The mouthfeel is smooth and velvety with gentle carbonation. The mouthfeel was one of the more impressive parts of this beer.
This beer was not terrible but I consider this type of beer one of my favorites and can name at least three direct competitors that are clearly superior. Don’t shy away from giving this one a try but you will likely find yourself lead away permanently by better coffee/espresso stouts.
I should point out that my choice of category of “American Stout” doesn’t fit the BJCP guidelines. It should technically go into category 21 or 23 for specialty or coffee beers. But in reality it is a stout. It isn’t really an Imperial but it is 0.5% stronger than the range for American Stout. Many would call this a “double American Stout”. So I decided to put it in American Stout.
Date: Saturday, January 15, 2011
Beer: Beer Geek Brunch (Weasel)
Category: Imperial Stout
Brewed in: Norway
Pour is onyx with virtually no light penetrating the beer. The head developed about one finger thick and was a tan brown color. Head retention is short as it quickly fades back into the beer. Trace amounts of lacing occurred.
The aroma from this brew is absolutely mouth-watering for anyone who likes coffee (or chocolate or beer for that matter). The immediate and dominant smell is of potent coffee but the beautiful thing is that despite the potency a myriad of other aromas still break through. It took me near 20 sniffs to identify what individual notes I could but I believe I smell dark roasted malts, dark chocolate, molasses, dark fruits, licorice, and a light hoppiness.
Tasting the beer reveals an immensely complicated grouping of flavors. Coffee, dark chocolate, and dark malts are at the forefront. These three stick out and dominate the first touch of the beer to the tongue. It is very well-balanced. The initial tastes yield to more subdued notes of dark fruits, nuts, and oats. The finish is a touch acidic and the coffee aftertaste lingers long after the swallow. The quality of the world-class coffee used is evident.
This beer has the most impressive mouthfeel I have yet experienced. It is very smooth and almost creamy. It can only be described as thick as it feels as if your mouth is both filled and coated with beer simultaneously. The carbonation is very fine. The mouthfeel compliments the tasting but allows the tasting to shine – as it should.
The alcohol content of 10.9% is amazingly well hidden; however, I could feel its presence after having had to consume this beauty in a fairly short time. This isn’t a session beer but goes down easy enough.
This is the best beer I have tried to date. I feel privileged to have been able to even have a bottle. I am afraid this is a must-buy whenever I see it. The journey of flavors this beer took me on left me sitting on my couch with my empty glass in hand feeling content, relaxed, and sporting a goofy smile. If that isn’t a summary of what a brewer should be aiming for, I don’t know what is.
Date: Friday, January 14, 2011
Beer: Beer Geek Breakfast
Category: Oatmeal Stout
Brewed in: Norway
Beer Geek Breakfast pours a very deep dark black. The beer cascades a bit to develop a one finger tan head. I noticed the head looks a little lighter where it contacts the beer and slightly darker where it contacts the air on top. This reminds me of the crema in espresso. (Check the picture of the beer to the left and then click here to see some espresso I made recently).
Head retention was moderate and faded into a thin collar. Minimal lacing was left on the glass.
The smell is very appealing to a beer and coffee lover. You definitely smell some coffee but the dominating aroma is roasted malt. Other notes are of dark chocolate and perhaps a hint of licorice. This beer has been named appropriately.
First sip immediately reveals that the flavor profile of this brew is complex. Initially tastes of bitter dark chocolate which progresses to roasted malts and finishes with a definitive coffee aftertaste. I find that as this beer warms slightly the flavors really shine. I favor the coffee which comes out deliciously once the beer has sat a few minutes.
The beer is smooth and somewhat thick in the mouth with medium carbonation. I have tried (and reviewed here and here) several other coffee stouts or porters. This one just usurped the throne as my personal favorite.
I have another Mikkeller coffee based beverage in my fridge right now that may prove to be the true king. Check it out at the Mikkeller site. Should be interesting considering one of its ingredients is derived from weasel shit.
Date: Wednesday, January 5, 2011
Brewery: Alley Kat
Beer: Vanilla Coffee Porter
Category: Robust Porter
ABV: estimated 5.50% (they didn’t tell us!)
Brewed in: Canada
So I made it to Cask Night with my brother-in-law and two friends. It was a great time! The beer offered was indeed from Alley Kat. It was a unique variant of their seasonal coffee porter. Strangely enough – it was extremely similar to the Mill St Coffee Porter I reviewed on the site a few days ago.
I took a picture with my crappy phone as I didn’t think to bring an actual camera. Oh well. As you can see we got our fair share. I had 3 pints.
The main difference from the usual coffee porter was the use of premium coffee beans supplied by a local coffee shop – Java Jive. The beans were of higher quality than usual and were vanilla beans.
The beer has very similar tasting notes with a very strong coffee flavor and hints of vanilla. It was an awesome beer and I am happy I had the chance to try it before it was gone in less than an hour.
Date: Tuesday, January 3, 2011
Brewery: Mill St
Beer: Coffee Porter
Category: Robust Porter
Brewed in: Canada
Pours a deep black through which almost nothing is visible even when held up to the light. The head developed rather short and thin with little retention. By the time I could even snap a picture the head was already disappearing. The head is a light tan color.
The aroma of this beer is exciting as you smell two things immediately: roasted malt and coffee. First the burnt malts dominate the smell and then give way to coffee. It smells very similar to immediately after I grind my coffee beans. To someone who loves both beer and coffee this aroma tempts me (like no other beer has) to make it a permanent addition to my personal breakfast menu. I immediately worry that the taste won’t deliver on the promise the aroma has made.
The mouthfeel is surprisingly bubbly for a porter. The initial notes in the taste are of very roasted dark malts with a hint of syrup. I find the coffee is overpowered initially. The aftertaste is definitely of coffee. It is delicious and lingers very long. You can tell quality coffee was used in this beer. The coffee taste is of better quality than you find in certain $4 cups of coffee. It may even make you wonder which beverage you drank.
There is a bitterness in the taste throughout the initial taste lasting quite a while after you swallow. There is not a great deal of complexity to the taste. About two or three dominant and complimentary tastes done very well.
I think this beer is amazing for the price. It is certainly going to be found in my fridge often.