a great day….With Hurricane Ida approaching the Gulf Coast, and the sky growing darker by the hour, I decided today would be the perfect day to stay in, curl up, and drink some good beer. For the most part, I was not disappointed:
Nils Oscar Coffee Stout: ABV:6% So today, I figured whilst I was in Scandanavia (last night’s Dark Force still lingered in the brain), I might as well take a trip over to Sweden. Made with espresso brewed with single estate coffee from Rwanda, this beer is a delicious tribute to the rich flavors of quality coffee beans. Its color is dark coffee brown (duh) when poured in; when held up to the light, a deep mahogany color with great clarity. I was a little surprised at this, because from the appearance of color in bottle, it looked as if would be opaque. It being a coffee stout, I mistakenly thought it would be denser, with alot more bitter roasted coffee notes. But this beer has a full, lush nose with sweet aromas of brown sugar, dark corn syrup, tree sap, and of course, coffee. There are also distinct notes of dry cocoa and cinnamon on both the nose and palate. Imagine standing at the coffee shop with the all of those accoutrements, and you put the cocoa and cinnamon powder on top of your coffee. That smell AND flavor.
This has good drinkability. I am not a coffee drinker, but this is really enjoyable. The flavors are balanced and clean. Only a touch of bitterness on the finish, but no more than a cup of coffee would lend. And I can see this being a lovely pair to a big breakfast. So maybe this weekend, I’ll cook a big brunch with eggs, pancakes, biscuits and jam. and serve this alongside instead of coffee….
Note: There is a only a TINY part of the Nils Oscar website in English. The rest is in Swedish, so basically unreadable to the vast majority of the world. They say you can email for more info in English….so if you love this beer, go for it! Oh… and ja means yes and nej, no. Just in case you go.
St. Peter’s Old Style Porter: ABV: 5.1% My first whiff is of Earl Grey tea. Hmm. Not bad. And then arises definite and almost overwhelming notes of syrupy sweetness. Not so good. Then I notice something unmistakable which raises a red flag. Vegetal aromas. Oh no. In wine, this usually means a big, fat flaw. Now let me be clear. Vegetal and green are not the same thing. You find green aromas often in young red wines, mostly due to using underripe grapes and allowing too much stem contact with the grapes. And grassiness is a common aroma on wines like Sauvignon Blanc. No, no this is not what I’m talking about. This is clearly vegetal…meaning something like a sweet potato that’s sat out too long. Edible, not rotten, but not in its freshest glory.
Now remember folks, I have a super-sensitive nose. It’s my job. But I don’t just make things up, and I don’t search for flaws. I wanna like each beer just as much as the next. But this one is tough. I decided to eat some bbq potato chips with it, one because they were sitting beside me, and two to see if this, like so many wines, is a food beer. And I will tell you, my opinion did improve. It actually paired pretty well with the sweet and spiciness of the chips. And I would wager that this might be a good match for some funky, washed-rind cheeses, like Ardrahan from Ireland. But I don’t really want to drink a beer I HAVE to put with something spicy or funky to cover up what appears to be a flaw, or at the very least a serious weakness.
Now the St. Peter’s website says this beer is “a blend of a mature old ale and a younger light beer – just as a true Porter should be.” Which raises a whole mess of questions to me, the most dominant ones being: If this is in fact flawed, is it coming from the old ale or the younger brew? Did this worsen in the bottle, just as wine tends to do with corkiness and spoilage yeast? And by the by, I happen to love Brettanomyces, and this ain’t it folks.
In confused conclusion, I honestly don’t know if this is a flawed batch, or if this is the way it always is. My advice to you, if you are served this at a tasting or party, ask if they have bbq potato chips.
Victory Storm King Imperial Stout: ABV: 9.1% This is why I love this challenge. Drinking these beers back to back, they all express such unique characteristics. Yes, many of these brews have the coffee, chocolate, and roasted notes, but they all, at least so far, have stood on their own. The Victory was a refreshing variance from the other beers today. And I figured what better day to drink a beer called Storm King than as Hurricane Ida approaches the Gulf Coast….
Right away, lots of fresh hop aromas dominate, with fragrant floral notes. In this way, it obviously reminds me of the Gonzo Imperial Porter. But that is where the similarities end. On the Storm King, dark notes lurk behind the happy hoppy aromas, like a thundercloud brewing a tempest on the horizon.
Sure enough, they come in waves on the palate: dark chocolate, roasted maltiness, and quite a bitter finish, not unlike a shot of espresso. As it warms up, it develops a woodsy/campfire aspect, along with a subtle yet distinct earthiness, particularly strong in the Riedel. If you imbibed solely from the bottle on this one, I don’t think you would get it. The bottle maintains the hoppy notes, along with a bit of herbaceousness and chocolate covered almonds.
BEER # 26
Beer Here Morke Pumpernickel Porter: ABV: 7.6% Yes. You read that correctly. Pumpernickel Porter. From Norway too. Oh my. But its a porter, so it wont be as crazy as that Dark Force Double Extreme Imperial Stout, right? Wrong. (I had failed to read the side of the bottle which said Stout with spices added)
Whoa. Those Nordic Viking folks are NOT kidding around. This beer pours out like motor oil, with a head not unlike the Imperial Wheat Stout of last night. In other words, dark, thick, and not giving in. You can run your finger through it and it doesn’t move. Hold that sucker up to the light, and you aren’t seeing through it. Deep breath, this one’s gonna be a doozy too.
Sure enough, I get that same head rush as when I had the Dark Force. Like a straight shot of espresso right outta bed. Hello! Swirl it around in the glass and that dark brown head comes rushing back (the beer people, not mine) Coating the glass, this brew is here to make an impression.
Tons of spices come careening out of the glass. Nutmeg, cardamon, anise, dried ginger, pepper, and mace. I am reminded of being a little girl, standing on the footstool and sticking my little nose in all the spice jars in the kitchen cabinets. The palate is darkly intense and spicy, with a considerable bitterness on the finish. And all those piquant flavors just linger on and on….
This beer is really good. As it warms, some sweeter aromas emerge and you literally could be making spiced holiday bread and cookies. Yum! To that end, this would be a great Thanksgiving or Christmas beer. I would pair this with a pumpkin pie, spice cake or gingerbread cookies. Wrap yourself up in a blanket, pour yourself a glass of this, and stare into a fire or something.
On a final note, out in San Diego, Port Brewing/Lost Abbey rolled out some of their beers at my favorite beer pub, Tap Room. My good friend Drew’s son Gavin decided that was toast-worthy. Have a look at the future dark beer lover. Its just awesome: