Monthly Archives: February 2015

A Trip to the Dark Side

I journeyed across time and space to Coruscant, capital of the Galactic Empire, to experience the Dark Side of the Force . . . and does the other side really matter? OK, I drove to Growler & Gill, rather closer to home. This was a tasting of Porters and Stouts, most welcome this time of year . . . and probably all year.

Baxter Window Seat Coconut Almond Porter

This arrives in the glass with a creamy, persistent light tan head over a nearly opaque dark brown. It delivers a fairly hot nose of coconut, nuts, fruit and coffee.The almond and coconut dominate the flavor with moderate malt. Some hops come in to dry the finish but coconut is there all the way while never overpowering or sweet. The mouth feel is fairly light for a porter, and at 6.0% ABV it’s very drinkable. Baxter is a pioneer in canning in New England, in fact canning their entire line.

dark1_Cappuccino Stout Photo Bomber-15Lagunitas Cappuccino Stout

Pours with a brief light brown head over very dark brown. The nose is quite mild with a hint of coffee. The flavor gives sharp dark coffee, reminding me not so much of cappuccino as of espresso. The finish is moderately bitter, more like very dark roast coffee than hops. That almost sounds as if I don’t like it, but that’s not the case. This could be “Stout for Starbuck’s.” It’s possible that it seemed more bitter because it followed the coconut almond porter. Lagunitas gives a shout out to their coffee source: Sebastopol’s Hardcore Coffee. 9.2% ABV

dark2_Breakfast_Stout_label_artFounders Breakfast Stout

This is an Imperial Stout, a “Double Chocolate Coffee Oatmeal Stout.” There’s no reason this should be heavy at all. Yeah, right. Pours with a light, short tan head over very dark brown, completely opaque. There’s a roasty mocha nose with slight fruitiness. On the palette it fills the mouth with slightly sweet creamy coffee, with molasses sneaking in on top of generous malt. Very little bitterness on the end, but plenty of toffee candy. Serve with French toast or ice cream , or just drink the damned thing. I’m not much on stout with breakfast or dessert, but I could be persuaded! 8.3% ABV and a well masked 60 IBU.

dark3_OakAgedYetiBottleGreat Divide Oak Aged Yeti

This variety of Yeti has the darkest head I’ve ever seen, walnut brown, lacing the glass. The nose is very mild at first, then develops a roasty cocoa aroma. The flavor is very fruity, creamy coffee and chocolate, and a deep base, sort of browned buttery malt. That creaminess continues with a spike of espresso. Nice hoppiness comes in on the very end. It’s not a bitter finish at all…and yet those who don’t like hops will not like this. 9.5% ABV. Rate Beer gave this one a score of 100. When I say “this variety” there are also straight Yeti, Chocolate Oak Aged Yeti, Espresso Oak Aged Yeti, Oatmeal Yeti, and I think Barrel Aged Yeti. That may be more Yeti than in all of the Himalayas! I’ll have to look for those.

dark4_VanillaPorterLogoBreckenridge Nitro Vanilla Porter

Pours with a very creamy, nitrous, very persistent head. In the glass it’s very dark brown, close to black, rather the theme of a journey to the Dark Side. The nose is of vanilla and malt with a hint of fruit. The flavor continues these but vanilla predominates, without the roasty quality of many porters, and it doesn’t suffer for the lack. The finish is a mild and persistent sweet vanilla. 4.7% ABV and 16 IBU give a nice gentle wrap up to the evening.

We bid goodbye to Darth Stout, though anyone who calls a Sith Lord “stout” is brave.

Brave but schtupid.

Image courtesy of Lagunitas Brewing Company
Image courtesy of Founders Brewing Company
Image courtesy of Breckenridge Brewery
Images received courtesy of Great Divide Brewing Company
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Walter White Meets Japanese Etruscans

Walter White Meets Japanese Etruscans with Hardcore Nuggets

Barrier TS4c 1.5bBarrier Walter White Pale Wheat

Pours as a classic wheat: pale cloudy gold with a generous, though not persistent head. The nose is a bit like a saison, farmhouse funky followed by yeast and then toast. The flavor is of solid malt, subtle fruit and a surprising bitterness in the finish like a cross between a wheat and a pale ale. 7.5% ABV

RosabiDogfish Head Rosabi

As it says on the label, “An Imperial IPA brewed with wasabi,” it pours with a generous pale orange head (too generous, the way I poured it), over a red-orange amber; this heavily laces the glass, all the way down. The nose is citrus hoppy, with a very distinct tang of wasabi, but then, I was looking for it. That wasabi note gets stronger from sip to sip. As with Japanese food, wasabi is about the nose, not the palette. Yes, you can taste wasabi but mostly as a nice bitter note over a light, crisp body with a good malt backbone. This is a very refreshing beer, ideal for seafood including the obvious sushi or sashimi. It would cut right through the creaminess of hamachi or the richness of toro. Indian food and caramelized meats would go equally well. The finish is gentle citrus and mildly emergent hops, long-lasting. I like this a lot. 8.0 % ABV.

StoneGreenTeaBaird / Ishii / Stone Japanese Green Tea IPA

Continuing with Japan, this collaboration with Baird Brewing and Ishii Brewing is golden in the glass with an inch-high yellowish head. The whole leaf green tea is the first thing on the nose and in the flavor. The nose adds some pine from Australian hops, and a touch of yeast. The flavor has a nice malt backbone with a mouth-filling earthiness. The finish is Stone hard, herbal hops. This would go almost equally well with Japanese or Indian dishes, but not so much the creamy ones. So far every one of Stone’s collaboration series has been very interesting! I also find it interesting–and good–that the original 2011 version (according to Beer Street Journal) “was brewed in response to the 2011 Japan earthquake and Tsunami. It raised $64,000 toward relief efforts.” 10.1% ABV, 75 IBU

BirraEtruscaDogfish Head Birra Etrusca Bronze

I first had this when visiting the brewery, and I’ve been looking for it ever since. This is part of their Ancient Ales series, developed with help from molecular archaeologist Dr. Pat McGovern and two Italian brewers, based on traces from 2800-year-old Etruscan pottery. This pours cloudy dark amber with a 1/4″ brief head and aromas of spicy marzipan and malt. The complex flavor reflects a unique grain bill incorporating hazelnut flour, honey, gentian root, and Ethiopian myrrh resin. These produce marked butterscotch and something hinting at spices like an Indian garam masala. There are hops in the recipe, of course, but very little is perceptible. There’s a long, malty, spicy finish. This reminds me of an oaky, buttery Chardonnay. 8.5% ABV

Hardcore-IPA-Bottle_SHOP-IMAGEBrewdog Hardcore IPA

This Imperial IPA pours with a mild head and aroma, then arrives on the palette with mouth-filling malt and earthy resinous hops which power into the finish. The intense flavor includes caramelly toffee with an edge, with citrus developing on the finish. This one is definitely for hop heads, as if you couldn’t tell from the name! In fact it’s another contributor to the debate about whether you can distinguish degrees of bitterness over 100 IBU. Regardless, it’s a solid, very drinkable, hardcore IPA. 9.2% ABV, 150 IBU

NuggetNectarTroegs Nugget Nectar Amber Ale

This pours light amber to orange with little head and a resiny caramel malt nose. It’s a straightforward drinking beer with citrus fruit, malt, and more caramel. There’s a little shot of pine on the end, rounding out the Nugget hop profile. I had it both on draft and in bottle, with the bottle more crisp but the draft a bit more creamy. At first it seems like an entry drug for hops, but it’s really a sneaky heavy hitter at 93 IBU and 7.5% ABV.

Image courtesy Barrier Brewing
Image courtesy BrewDog
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A Beer Grows in Brooklyn

_361_Brooklyn Brewery Logo w Wings.jpeg

_SorachiAceSorachi Ace

A “farmhouse saison” featuring a Japanese hop (now grown in Washington). Spicy and dry with a long smooth finish. 1-inch persistent head. Unique hop on the nose with a kind of a warmth to it, giving spice and herbs, over a Belgian yeastiness. Creamy on the palette with gentle malt and spice. Hops come back in on the finish, still spicy and herbal and not very bitter. 7.2% ABV, 34 IBU

Picture 100Brooklyn Brown Ale

A Brooklyn mainstay, I believe the presenter said it was their second beer. It’s roasty toasty malty, unexceptional but very drinkable. In the glass it’s full brown, light barely penetrates. Nose of dark malt with toast and almost a hint of whiskey. It’s fairly dry with very little hoppiness, but some bitterness comes in on the end. 5.6% ABV, 30 IBU

_1117_bb_blast_4pk_HR_cropBrooklyn Blast!

Gives a nice shot of hops over caramel, very smooth with a nice balanced hop finish. Gold-amber with a brief light head. Smells like a candy store, caramels and fruit with some pastry. Flavor rich and complex starting with caramel and then fruity hops run in and bloom. Finish starts with a candied bitter orange peel and then mellows out long and smooth. Each sip runs through the refreshing sequence again. 8.4% ABV, 53 IBU


As you might suspect, it’s a cross between a Quadruppel and sampling too much of your own brew. Just see the description on their website. A snifter beer, this pours deep brown with a nice head. I get molasses and malt, maybe some raisins, rich and smooth, then hops sneak in on the end. Very much a Belgian style, but not as sweet as some quads. On subsequent sips I get some citrus and fruit, perhaps coming as hops build up. 9.9% ABV, one of their “Brewmaster’s Reserve,” one-time, draft only . . . and I hope they bring it back and bottle it.

Picture 132Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout

Pours black and rich with brief tan head, then solid malty mocha on the nose, maybe a touch of oak. Nice balanced roasty coffee bitterness on the palette, sliding into dark chocolate, with pronounced hops on the finish. Having this both on draft and from the bottle, the tap wins as you might expect, but the bottle has nothing for which to apologize. 10.0% ABV, 51 IBU.

Images courtesy of Brooklyn Brewery
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