Tuesday, October 19, 2010

This Is What I Drink: 85

Stout and About

Imperial stouts have been my favorite style of beer for a couple of years now, so I was excited to get a couple of these as a birthday gift a little while ago. They were all pretty good, but which takes the cake?

Duclaw Black Jack Stout

I had seen this one on the store shelves for a little while so I was glad to finally give it a try. Duclaw is a company from Maryland that I hadn't seen much from, but an imperial stout is always something that's fun to judge a brewery on. At 8%, this isn't super strong for the style, but still has enough of a kick to qualify. The color lives up to it as it poured a deep black with a tan colored head. Most of the normal flavors were there, the cocoa, a bit of vanilla, and a toasty bitterness. However, it all was outdone by the fact that this beer didn't hide the alcohol very well. I also felt that the regular "stout" flavor seemed almost artificial. Not bad, but probably a middle of the road kind of imperial stout.

Schlafly Reserve Imperial Stout (aged in bourbon barrels)

Hmm, a 2008 vintage imperial stout aged in bourbon barrels at about 11%? Yes, I believe that's right up my alley. This one doesn't quite pour the pitch black as most stouts do, but there was a pretty nice mocha colored head to go with it. This one had a whole lot of chocolate, coffee, vanilla, caramel and toasted malt notes. The bourbon flavor was pretty hidden, but you could still tell it was there. It also felt a lot thicker than the Black Jack which I find important in a strong stout. Most importantly it did a much better job hiding the alcohol taste despite being stronger, which is pretty important if you're drinking an entire 22 ounces of it. We don't necessarily see a lot of Schlafly out here in the East, but I've always enjoyed what I've had from them and this is definitely another gem.

Dogfish Head Bitches Brew

I'll go right ahead and say that I'm not overly familiar with the work of Miles Davis, so I can't really comment on that aspect of this beer, but I according to the press release they released this beer on the 40th anniversary of Miles Davis' Bitches Brew album. Being more of a fan of beer, I was just excited that they described it as "3/4 imperial stout and 1/4 gesho with honey." Considering that the only other strong stouf I've had from DFH is their too strong 18% World Wide Stout, I was more looking forward to this 9% effort. As with the others, this one pours jet black with a pretty nice tan head. I think I first noticed just how smooth and creamy this one was without any kind of sense that this is a high alcohol beer. It has to be commended for hiding that so well. Very chocolatey and toasty, with a bit of coffee as well. I unfortunately didn't get much honey as promised, but it did finish a tad sweet. Anyway, this was probably my favorite of the bunch. I'm just disappointed that it's only available for a limited time.

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