After a long, yet delicious week of wine tastings and events, there is something wonderful about sitting back in a big lush, velvet chair and drinking dark, lush beers…and sampling a lovely Cabernet Sauvignon. Hahaha, come on now folks, when have you EVER known me to take it one thing at a time?
BEER # 66
Ballast Point Black Marlin Porter: ABV: 6.0% Pardon this trip down memory lane, but it is inextricably connected to the name of this beer…and my only firsthand knowledge of a marlin. I can’t help but remember being a little girl in my Papaw’s office of his fabric company. Feeling the texture of beautiful woven silks, velvets, and damask all around me. Climbing up past rolls of fabric against the wall, and with my little fingers tapping the skin of the hollowed taxidermied marlin on his wall, and thinking, “This can’t be real. it’s too big, too pretty and looks NOTHING like the fried shrimp and flounder I get at Sea King Fish Camp!” I couldn’t wrap my wee brain around something so aquatically massive, despite the fact that I was told time and time again that Papaw had caught that fish on an expedition. It remained a mystery to me for years….
This beer pours out a nice mahogany color with red highlights, which is lovely in the light. The nose is full of maple syrup and a load of nutty aromas, in particular, roasted almonds and pecans. Vanilla and caramel also contribute a substantial dose, with each of these aspects following directly through to the palate. What you smell is what you get. Think The Dramatics “What You See is What You Get” from 1972, but sub out. My life is a soundtrack.
This is a porter that goes down smooth and effortless, in other words, a drinker. As my co-worker said, “Yeah, this is going down a little TOO easy for my own good.” Well said.
Left Coast Black Magic Stout: ABV: 6.7% Wow. Chicory coffee. Now I really DO have to try the Dogfish Head Chicory Stout. This is, and those who know me realize I manipulate the English language…barky. Not like a dog friends. Like the bark of a tree. Barky. Ever been hiking on a damp trail after a rain or first thing in the morning? That wonderfully wet smell. After living in the North Carolina mountains for 4 years, this aroma is drilled into my head.
But there also something else here. Almost like soaked coffee beans, but mingled with dried dark fruit. Unexpectedly, after the beer warms, a vibrant nose arises. I’m as surprised to write it as you are to read it. I don’t know where it came from. I’m not like Elrond and want to “cast it back into the firey chasm from whence it came” or anything…but I was pretty surprised.
BEER # 64
Deschutes Obsidian Stout: ABV: 6.4% Nice. Very nice. What a intense, full-bodied nose after that leaner Black Magic Stout. Lots o’ vanilla, rich coffee, and chocolate. But that dry mocha, cocoa powder form of chocolate I saw on the Rogue Mocha Porter. There is a lovely, ample bitterness on the finish that reminds me of biting into a coffee bean. I have done that more times than you might think. I like to test.
This is a complex, interesting beer. A friend noted that it was more like a wine in aromatics than most beers he was used to. Meaning that smoothness of the nose, the elegance of aromas, the natural vanilla aspect….particularly when tasted in line with a 2003 Provenance Cabernet Sauvignon, which itself was perfectly resolved and balanced. That’s saying a lot.
I could see myself laying around, blankets pulled up, watching a good movie, and enjoying this beer. Highly recommend this to stout drinkers.
Samuel Adams Imperial Stout: ABV: 9.2% Wow. I honestly didn’t know what to expect on this one, as I was more dumbfounded that they made an Imperial White Ale over 10% than I was at this Imperial at 9.2%. But once I got past my distraction, and focused in, I was truly taken with this beer. And in that same kind of wine dork way I have with a few others in this challenge…
First note: cured meat, sausage and thyme. I’m not kidding here. And white pepper. Like a Rhone wine. But that nose quickly fades into blackstrap molasses and tons of toffee. And a syrupy note that travels through the palate. Think syrup on biscuits or that sweet residue you leave on your plate after brunch. Rich and concentrated.
Oh wait! Dark cherry! I love that. When an aroma just comes out of nowhere and slaps you in the face and fills your senses. But friends, you gotta wait for that one. I got it after a good 30 minutes. Again, like a wine, where the complexity sometimes takes patience.
This beer is not for the faint of heart. Especially not after a few others stouts or porters. You are NOT gonna drink a 6 pack of this, unless you have a blackout wish. You’d have to peel me off the floor like a sticker. My critique of this beer is it is a little too sweet. It needs a significant dose of bitterness, either from hops or roasted malts. It has a longgggg finish that needs to end a minute or two before it does. Otherwise, like the Cream Stout and Honey Porter, well done. Sam Adams isn’t where it is because they make crappy beers. They have TEAMS of people making sure this stuff comes out right. Just ratchet up the bitterness on this one guys, ok?
So I’m just gonna paste on (that being the operative term considering I hit a wall and figuratively stuck to it like glue last night) Thursday night’s beers….After a wine tasting with a number of delicious wines, drinking 11+% ABV stouts ticketed me to la la land. I tell you those high octane beers hit me like a locomotive. On rocket fuel.
Lost Abbey Serpent Stout: ABV : 11% Well. This just pours out somewhere between espresso and used motor oil. And you can smell the sweet, dark fragrance from several inches above the glass. Kinda like Eve and the seductive smell of a fresh apple. This one’s got something to say. Specifically, “a liquid so dark and viscous that all who tasted soon fell victim to this evil incarnate.” Well then. Drawing the line between Good and Evil, Lost Abbey makes you pick a side.
And if you decide to go the way of the serpent, “it is certain he has tempted even you…So welcome to our Darker Side of Life-home of the Serpent Stout’s Original Sin and the tastiest beers known to man.” Ok, so between Dark Force, Black Hole, and this guy, I am somewhere in a cosmic, religious, philosophical crevasse. Just how I like it.
This is, and no pun intended here…a monster. I am daunted just by looking at it. And with those incredibly rich, intense aromas filling my nostrils, I am simultaneously intimidated and seduced at the same time. Well done fellas.
LOADS of rich chocolate, coffee, and molasses, all so dark even a tanker truck of milk couldn’t penetrate it. There’s no peering through this and glimpsing the other side. And I mean that in both appearance and flavor. Every single molecule of that nose stampedes through to your palate. Dark, black fruits align with their Stygian comrades to launch a blitzkreig on your senses….My senses lay hapless to my side in their blackened wake.
Need I say more?
PS. My critique of the beer is this: While intensity is applaudable, and I am no doubt a fan, this one needs a significant shot of bitterness on the finish. From the mid-palate onward, there is a considerable sweetness, and it ends up a bit cloying on the tongue. Whether by virtue of hops or roasted malt, this beer could benefit tremendously from that palate cleanser. And perhaps a bit more carbonation to break up the potent, intense weight. As it stands now, you just can’t drink much. And maybe that’s what they intend. Sip on it like a port or cognac. Certainly nothing wrong with that. But just know folks, you’ve been warned….
P.P.S. I think this one could age for years…..
BEER # 61
Mikkeller Black Hole: ABV: 13% So here I go diving into the dark universe again….Ken, fellow beer lover, brings this inky liquid into the shop Thursday evening, just as Mark, Virgil, and I are tasting the Serpent Stout. This Belgian stout, brewed with coffee, is just as black as a starless night and holds its own against its predecessor.
But wow, what a difference in the aromas and flavors!! This stout is loaded with white pepper and an almost medicinal herb I cannot place. I am thinking also of dried fruit, and Ken correctly calls it as dried plum, with its intense, dark, sweetness. Quite interestingly, there is a DISTINCT burnt wood aroma that you only detect strongly when there in nothing left in your glass. By mere chance did we come across this note, when we are all staring at the bottoms of our empty vessels. Voila! But I tell you, it smelled like Christmas Eve by the fire in that sticky residue….
By the time I capped this one off, I was….done. I heard the choo choo of that locomotive coming and knew my ride had arrived…