There are some beers that scream to be reviewed. Last year a big beer, that eventually was a big flop, was a beer from Rogue involving maple and bacon. It’s a weird combination and people want to know how it turned out. People want to know what a beer involving bacon tastes like. One of this year’s most interesting combinations has to be this beer out of Stone Brewing Co. Stone seems to almost always be involved in a collaboration of some sort. I happen to love collaborations. Even though there tends to be a few extra hands involved in the brewing, it gives you a little partial taste of a brewery that isn’t always available in your area. What makes this particular collaboration even cooler is that it has been done with another brewery and a homebrewer.
Ken Schmidt is the homebrewer who took home gold in the Stone Homebrewing Competition, and won the right to collaborate on this particular brew. While this is a very big honor for a homebrewer, the even bigger surprise is that this is the second time he has won this prize. He also previous produced with Stone a Kona coffee, macadamia, and coconut porter. The man has some crazy ideas. One of the even more interesting facts is that Stone admits they had a little bit of trouble attempting to recreate this recipe on their system. Schmidt runs what he calls Aloha Plenty brewing co. With creations like these, I want him to start up some kind of real brewing facility. This guy may be my hero.
Schmidt writes that this beer was inspired by his love for big bold flavors. Combining chocolate and mint isn’t necessarily the craziest thing ever thought up. It may be pretty out there as far as a beer goes, but it is probably one of my favorite flavor combinations out there. One of my favorite Christmas memories is grabbing the Andes Mints out of my grandfathers candy jar at their apartment. So, when I heard this beer was coming out, it really peaked my interest on a bunch of levels. It sounded like something I had to buy and blog about, but it also sounded like something I had to try because of my love for the flavor combination. Thankfully Schmidt states he was looking to create something close to the candies left on your pillow at hotels. Therefore, if it happens to be even close to that taste, I knew I’d be in for a real treat.
This one pours out a super heavy dark black color. It has the same look and feel as pouring oil out. There is a fairly minimal amount of head that develops on top of the beer. However, I would say it has some of the darkest head I’ve seen on a beer in a while. The head has a super rich dark chocolate brown color to it. There isn’t much lacing building on the walls of the glass, but you do see quite a bit of sticky residue left over. Of course the beer is far to dark to give a sense of clarity; however, you do see a little carbonation around the edges of the brew when you agitate it.
If you’re looking for a beer that reminds you of a mint chocolate candy, this is certainly the beer to pick up. The aroma has a super rich chocolate and mint scent to it. The mint is certainly one that has a lot of candy aroma and not of the fresh variety. The chocolate takes a backseat to the mint on the nose; however, it is certainly present. The sweet malts are there; although, they seem to be mostly composed of chocolate. I don’t really get any big coffee or roasted aromas, and I also don’t smell any hops. Interestingly, even the aroma seems to have a certain thickness about it. Perhaps the oatmeal can affect aroma.
While the aroma is all mint and chocolate, the taste is much more bold chocolate stout with mint accents. The beer begins with a lot of very bold and sweet dark malts. There is some very intense chocolate flavors that combine with the big malts to create a very strong introduction to this beer. There is some light coffee that comes in to add a little more depth to the brew. The middle feature a fairly significant roasted transition that was totally lacking from the nose. There is some more bold chocolate flavors that lead into the mint accents. The flavor of the mint is actually shorter than the nose suggests; however, it is just enough to add a nice balanced flavor to the mix. The mint somewhat does coat the mouth so the residual mint flavor stays with you throughout the entire drinking process. There is some bold roasted and chocolate flavors with lingering mint on the finish.
The beer is probably one of the more thick and syrupy that I’ve had in a while; however, it really works with this particular mix. There is some carbonation to help mix it up and move the flavors along, but it has a very thick chocolate chip ice cream feel to it. Allowing the beer to warm up a little almost changes the feel to more of a mint chocolate milk feel. The flavors all work surprisingly well together for a beer that is kind of out there.
I’m not certain this beer will be for everyone, but this is up there on my favorite beers of the year. I love mint so this is certainly right up my alley. I’m not sure how anyone could pass this up if you see this on the shelf. However, if there were any apprehensions about buying this beer, let me quell them right now. This beer is too unique to pass up. I’m just glad I have another bottle to put in my cellar for a few years. I’ll be interested to see what this mint is doing in a year or two.
Teacher Grade: A+