Peace Tree Black River Gumbo Stout

Peace Tree Black River Gumbo Stout
Peace Tree Black River Gumbo Stout

Over the past week, I’ve enjoyed a six-pack of Peace Tree‘s new offering: Black River Gumbo Stout.  It happens to be one of those ‘I can have a few of these’ stouts.

What makes this stout unique is the use of a Belgian yeast.  So far, there are only a few Belgian-style stouts on the market (e.g. Boulevard‘s Dark Truth Stout), but the Black River Gumbo Stout is the most drinkable due to its lighter body.

To start with, the beer had a coffee and roasted scent to it.  There was a lot of roasted and chocolate flavors present, but there was a hint of a unique flavor, similar to a cola, that isn’t in many beers.  It had medium body, and finished fairly clean, leaving a slightly bitter, roasted, and smoky aftertaste.

Overall, I enjoyed the Black River Gumbo Stout quite a bit.  I’ve heard that Peace Tree serves this on a Nitro tap at their Knoxville tap room, so if you’re in the area, check it out!

Have you had the Black River Gumbo Stout?  What did you think?

Sierra Nevada 30th Anniversary Fritz and Ken’s Stout

Sierra Nevada 30th Anniversary Fritz and Ken's Stout
Sierra Nevada 30th Anniversary Fritz and Ken's Stout

Over the holidays, I had the chance to have one of Sierra Nevada’s 30th Anniversary collaboration beers, the Fritz and Ken’s Stout, from the mind of Ken Grossman, the founder of Sierra Nevada Brewing and Fritz Maytag.  Fritz is the great-grandson of the founder of the Maytag Corporation, headquartered in Newton, Iowa (which is also the hometown of Madhouse Brewing).  He essentially saved American craft beer in 1965 when he purchased the Steam Beer Brewing Company in San Francisco, now the maker of Anchor Steam.  The brewery was about to close its doors when Fritz bought the company and saved it, along with craft brewing in the process.

This beer was actually purchased about a year ago, but has been in cellar temperatures (around 50 degrees) since then.

I must say that this beer was worth the wait.  It poured very dark, with a tan head.  It smelled like roasted coffee and chocolate.  When I tasted it, I was very impressed.  It was a very nice, thick stout with a bunch of mouthfeel.  I felt it was almost porter-like because it was very thick, smooth, and chocolatey.

It was a great beer, and I am very disappointed that I didn’t save more.

Did you try the Sierra Nevada 30th Anniversary Fritz and Ken’s Stout?  What was your take?

Brew Dog Rip Tide

Brew Dog Rip Tide
Brew Dog Rip Tide

While at the family’s for the holidays, I had a chance to try quote a few brews, including Rip Tide, by the Scottish brewery Brew Dog.

The beer smelled a lot like coffee with hints of chocolate.  At first taste, it was a smooth, slightly sweet beer with a very roasty component.  There was a very slight amount of carbonation.  It’s a beer that will sneak up on you because it doesn’t taste very strong, but contains 8% ABV.

Coincidentally, while I was at the store, the associate mentioned that if I was interested, they had a bottle of Tactical Nuclear Penguin from Brew Dog.  At 32% ABV, it’s one of the strongest beers available, but I wasn’t willing to shell out the $100-$150 for a 12 oz bottle.  Maybe one of these days I’ll take him up on that offer.

Have you had Rip Tide?  What was your impression?

Keegan Ales Mother’s Milk Oatmeal Stout

Keegan Ales Mother's Milk Oatmeal Stout
Keegan Ales Mother's Milk Oatmeal Stout

Also while at Stout‘s NYC in Manhattan, I had the chance to sample Keegan Ales Mother’s Milk Oatmeal Stout.

Not only is the name a mouthful, but so was the beer.  It was nice and smooth with a bunch of body, and had a perfect roasty character to it. Because it used lactose (milk sugar), it was slightly sweet but the oats gave it a hint of bite to balance it out.

It was a nice stout, and look forward to the next time I visit the New York City area to try some more offerings from Keegan Ales.

Have you tried the Mother’s Milk Stout?

Beer Styles – An Introduction

Beer Styles
Beer Styles

If you are new to beer, or haven’t experienced many beers, a great place to start is by exploring beer styles.

Peter Bouckaert, the head brewer at New Belgium Brewing in Fort Collins, Colorado gets very upset when someone mentions beer styles because he sees beer as an art, and not to squeeze into small style categories.  This is true, but for a beginning beer lover, styles are the best guide to exploring the world of beer because it gives you a framework for interpreting the beer.

According to the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP), a division of the American Homebrew Association, there are 28 major divisions, with each major division containing 3-4 subdivisions, for a total of almost 100 different beer styles, and the number seems to grow every year.

So where do you start?

Many times, if you are used to lagers or light lagers, it may be to your advantage to try a few wheat beers or pale ales to expand your horizons.  Eventually, if you enjoy the hop flavor enough, you should try the IPA style.

On the other end of the scale, if you haven’t had many beers, it may be better for you to try several darker beers that have a lot of malt sweetness with little bitterness.  Some good examples include brown ales, stouts, or the seasonal Oktoberfest.

The key is to try several examples of each style.  There are prototypical examples of each style, for example Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is the prototypical pale ale, but there are other examples that differ in body and flavor such as Magic Hat’s #9 or Widmer Brothers Drifter Pale Ale.

So the moral is just because you don’t like a beer style, maybe it’s just the beer, and not the style.  Or even it’s the situation.  The first time I tried New Belgium’s 1554 Black Ale, I didn’t like it, but this winter, I tried it again and couldn’t get enough of it.

Keep diversifying, and enjoy!