BrewDog – Paradox Smokehead

It’s funny how much your tastes develop and change as you get older.  This can of course span beyond just the realm of beer and paradox smokeheadalcohol.  I grew up a very picky eater.  A few of the more normal things I didn’t like eating when I was younger were eggs, chinese food, various vegetables, onions, and plenty of fruit.  I may not have been the most healthy child ever.  Now, getting older, I enjoy a lot of these different things.  I still don’t eat fish, but I’m not sure I’ll ever be capable of doing that.

Anyway, I’ve seen a lot of development in flavors in the realm of beer and alcohol over the years as well.  While a lot of it hasn’t been due to a particular dislike for anything, it is instead a lack of exposure to a lot of the more developed and mature options out there.  Working in a big city with so many colleges, I have to deal with a lot of kids just coming into their real discovery of alcohol.  They no longer need to hide that they drank one of their parents beers or take shots out of cheap plastic bottles their big brother got for them.  While they now have the capabilities to try the good stuff, wallets and the lack of knowledge keep them ordering silly or cheap things. I’ve actually had someone come up to my rather classy bar and say, “It’s my friend’s 21st birthday.  Do you know how to make a Nazi Death Camp?”  I also couldn’t help but laugh when the Marine who had just turned 21 told me he was really into shots right now. I mentioned that he should look at some of the good craft beers out there, and he scoffed that he drank beer when he was 14, he had moved on to shots.  I would hope that I didn’t sound as dumb as many of these children who have approached my bar, but I’m sure I did as well.  I certainly drank my share of cheap beer and gross vodka growing out of the discovery stage of alcohol.  Upon starting at my restaurant nearly three years ago, my knowledge spread from good beers to good scotches and bourbons too.  My other area of interest beyond beer.

One thing that I’ve started to learn about is scotch.  Particularly I’ve really come to enjoy some of the smokier and peatier versions for sure.  That’s ultimately one of the big reasons why I was interested in this bottle.  I was at a store in Maryland when I noticed a little sign that told me all BrewDog beers were $2 off.  There were a few different bottles to choose from, but I was most interested in this one because of the islay whisky casks it was aged in.  Smokehead apparently refers to the company they got the casks from, and islay typically means good smoke, so I was hoping for a nice beer/scotch crossbreed.

This one pours out a super dark black color with the near consistency of oil.  There was only the slightest hint of any head on the top of the beer following the pour in the form of an occasional dark bubble.  Swirling the glass results in no lacing at all; however, the sticky residue left from the beer lingers quite a while.  As expected, the beer was far too dark to really have any clue about the clarity, but the total lack of any head or lacing certainly makes the beer seem rather low in carbonation.

smokehead glassI had my hands a little full when I went to open this bottles, so I was holding it against my chest when I popped it open.  It may have been the first time that the aroma hit me that hard when opening a bottle.  I did happen to spill a little on myself which may have assisted in the intensity, but it was powerful.  The smoke and peat aroma is huge on the nose.  The beer smells very strongly of the whisky scotch influence.  The overwhelming influence of the casks manages to hide all signs of the imperial stout base.  In the end it’s clear this is all malt and no hops.

The flavor profile is basically completely dominated by the cask contributions.  There is some big malt backbone that kicks off the beer, and it’s the one place where the peaty scotch influence is the least present.  The stout base at the start has a lot of dark chocolate sweetness to it; however, not a whole lot of roasted coffee.  The coffee aspect of the stout may be there, but it is completely swallowed up by the smokey peat flavor.  Not long into the flavor profile, the big whisky and peaty scotch flavor kicks up.  The booziness from the casks comes in huge and is followed up quickly by some very well developed smokey peat flavors.  The peat isn’t really big and bold like a laphroaig, but it is more developed and aged tasting.  The beer ends with a lot of roasted smokiness and overall sweetness.  It’s the somewhat overpowering nature of the sweetness at the end that was my least favorite aspect to this beer.

The mouth here matches a lot of what could be visibly seen in the glass.  It looked like oil, and it had a rather thick and syrupy nature to it.  There appeared to be no carbonation, and it really didn’t have much carbonation at all.  All of the smoke, peat, and scotch add great flavor, but it’s the slight over sweetness to it that kept it from being a perfect beer for me.  I will say, I chilled this beer and the bottle instructs you to drink it at room temperature.  As it warmed, the sweetness dissipated and the smoke became even more intense.  I have a feeling I could have avoided the sweetness if I had just followed directions better.

I realized slightly before doing this tasting that I had somehow found a bottle that may have sat on that shelf for years.  The bottle states that it was bottled on 08/08/08.  Had I realized this before hand, I would have probably grabbed more than one.  While it’s actually not the oldest beer in my collection right now, I was happy all the aging time had been done for me.  I have no idea if the brewery held on to these and just recently released them, but you won’t be disappointed if you can kind one of these still on the shelf.  Here’s to developing a more mature and developed palate!

Teacher Grade: A

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Aging Dilemma

I’ve found myself with a slight dilemma on my hands lately.  Winter is a great time for really big beers to come out.  You can get heavy imperial stouts, huge barleywines, or really good scotch and old ales.  These beers are delicious and all I want to do is get them home, chilled, and consumed.  There is a different way to think about this though.  Why not get them home, put them in a box, wait a year or two, and then get them out to drink.  I know, for those reading who aren’t beer enthusiasts, this sounds like a crazy idea.  You buy alcohol to go home and consume it.  Why would you ever buy a beer with the intention of letting it sit around for a year or two before you consume it?  For those of us who are slightly more well versed in the language of beer, some beers only get better with time and you want to allow it to reach its full potential before you open it.  My question is: how do you fight the urge for instant gratification?

The best way I’ve found around this is buying in bulk.  Bourbon County recently landed on the soil of Washington DC, and it has created quite the stir amongst the beer nerds.  I was presented with this dilemma at first when I was only able to find a single bottle of it at a local store.  Then, walking to my second job one day, I saw a full case sitting right in the window of the shop next door to the restaurant.  Problem solved!  Yes I had to pay a pretty penny for a full 4 pack, but I now have 5 bottles of it.  I can drink one or two and age the remaining for different increments of time.  It was a beer miracle!  This, however, isn’t the way things always work out.  When possible, I always try and buy more than a single bottle of a beer I am considering aging.  I can get that instant gratification, and I can age the crap of the other bottle.  What do I do though, when I can only find, or afford, a single bottle of a big beer that would benefit from a few years in the dark?

The beer that actually sparked the thought for this blog comes out of Founders Brewing Co.  Founders produces beers that are big, bold, and tasty.  So, I couldn’t help but search with all my might to find a bottle of Bolt Cutter.  Bolt Cutter is their 15 year anniversary barleywine release.  Doing some slight research, I found that Founders released a barleywine for their 10 year anniversary, but it doesn’t seem like they brew a celebratory beer every year like Stone Brewing Co.  Therefore, I really felt like I had to find it.  I managed to procure a bottle for $24, but I only found one bottle in my area.  Now the dilemma kicks in.  Do I wait a few months to drink it, do I wait a few years to drink it, or do I crack it open the next time I have a gathering at my house?  I did manage to solve a similar problem with my bottle of Lucky Bastard from Stone Brewing Co.  I found it on tap while home for Thanksgiving break. I really doubt that ends up happening with Bolt Cutter.  Maybe I manage to find another bottle, or maybe I manage to find another way to taste it, but if I don’t, I’m not sure what do with a singular bottle.  I would love to crack open this 15% Abv right now, but I want to drink it at its optimal time.

So beer geeks, what do you do when faced with this dilemma?  Do you give in to the desire for instant gratification, or do you suck it up and age the beer to its prime?  I’ve certainly gone both ways with beers in the past, but I find myself most confused with this bottle of Bolt Cutter.  Help me Obi Wan, you’re my only hope!

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co – Narwhal Imperial Stout

There is something nice about seeing a brewery you think you’re very familiar with branching out and creating a beer you almost thought was out of their league.  Sam Adams has been doing this a lot lately.  They continue to produce bigger beers in their more craft line-up that tend to be pretty good.  I know a few years ago I had pinned them as being the makers of Boston Lager, a few seasonals, and an okay variety pack.  Now they seem to try to be keeping up with the big craft beer boom that is taking place.  Not to be outdone, it would seem that Sierra Nevada is doing the same thing.

I’m fairly certain I can credit Sierra Nevada with being the first brewery to introduce me to what hops really are.  Drinking any noncommercial beer, you’re surly exposed to hops of some sort.  However, as you delve deep into the realm of craft beer, you soon find out what hops really are in many pale ales, IPAs, and double IPAs.  I can still remember the first Sierra Nevada I had.  I went to a Velvet Revolver concert in Philadelphia that my then girlfriend, now wife, had gotten me tickets for.  We went out to eat first, and I decided to try out a beer I had never had before: Sierra Nevada – Celebration.  I was certainly not well versed in hops at the time, but that seemed like the strangest beer I’d ever had.  I remember not really being able to get it down.  Years later I’ve found an appreciation and love for hops. Now, years after experiencing my first hoppy beer, I see the same company branching out and putting out some fairly good craft brews.  I’ve enjoyed their Ruthless Rye, Hoptimum, and other various big beer offerings.  Now I’m glad to see them taking maybe the biggest jump into an imperial stout.

Sierra Nevada states this brew is inspired by the mysterious creature that thrives in deepest fathoms of the frigid Arctic Ocean.  Sadly I first realized the Narwhal existed thanks to everyone’s favorite holiday classic “Elf”. I suppose this beer may be best representative of the environment I would imagine the Narwhal exists in most of the time.  It’s a dark, thick and murky brew.  I’ve seen a few haters on Untapped bash this beer before I could even pick it up, but haters aside, I was really excited to grab a four pack of this when I saw it debut on the shelves of my local store.  I was just hoping haters were gonna hate, but I would love this one.

This one poured out a super dark black oil color with a very thin brown espresso head on top.  The head grows quite slowly and diminishes extremely quickly.  There is some really light lacing that develops on the side of the glass, but you get a lot more sticky residue left over.  The beer is far too dark to give any sense of clarity, and you can only see a little light activity in the glass when you agitate the contents.

The smell is fairly thick and dominated by some very big roasted notes.  There is some ample rich chocolate aroma that accompanies the roasted notes, and you get some very pleasant big coffee scents that blend in really well.  The beer seems to have an overall hefty oaky aroma.  The sweet malts are definitely the show stealer, but you do smell a little bit of the hop scent on the nose.

For a brewery I typically associate with hops, they really managed to make sure to back off on them for this brew.  The big sweet malts kick the brew off.  The huge sweet chocolate flavors come in real quick.  Sierra Nevada says the chocolate flavor is bakers chocolate, and I’d actually happen to agree with them.  It tastes like they started to make a cake and decided to go with a beer instead.  There are some nice light roasted notes at the beginning right before some light hops kick up for the transition to the back half of the brew.  The second half of the beer is really dominated by huge roasted flavors.  The espresso coffee flavor comes up big on the second half as well; however, there is just enough residual chocolate to keep the beer from being dominated too much by the slightly overpowering roasted flavors.  The beer finishes slightly bitter, which I find kind of off putting in the end.  The beer finishes with the bitter notes, oak, and coffee.  It’s rounded out with almost a little burnt flavoring.

This beer is certainly a mouthful.  The overall mouthfeel of this one is a rather thick roasted quality.  The beer certainly has lots of big flavors; however, you get some very nice mellow carbonation throughout that helps to mellow out a little bit of the big flavors.  I happen to think the roasted flavors are slightly out of control, and I find the bitter flavor something less than desirable.

I wouldn’t say this is the imperial stout to end all big stouts, but I happen to like it quite a bit.  Sure there are better ones out there, but I would be more than happy to finish off my four pack.  The only other thing I might do is throw one of them in my cellar to see what time does to it.  Either way, I’ll be having this beer again, and you should too.

Teacher Grade: B

Black Beer Friday Recap

Black Beer Friday has come and gone, and I wanted to make sure I let my faithful readers know how my Friday went down.  As expected, I did spend most of my morning out shopping.  Thankfully I managed to get a few of my own desires in there as well.  I went up to the beer store I know back home and picked up a few beers there, and I got a special black friday release from The Gaslight Anthem as well.  Most of my day, however, was spent running around Khols, Michaels, and various different stores in the mall.  I ultimately hit the wall in NY & Co.  My wife had me stand in a line that spanned the better part of the store.  It was certainly that line that broke my spirit and left me needing a beer.

I had a thought to head over to the only brewery I could think of in the area: Cricket Hill.  All of those plans drastically changed when I decided to Facebook my local craft beer restaurant.  They were advertising that they had received one keg of Stone’s Enjoy by 12.21.12 and Lucky Bastard.  Now I was certainly still going to have my black beer for black Friday, but I also couldn’t help myself with these rare offerings.

I had hoped to sit in the bar area of the restaurant, but that section was packed, so we accepted a little table back in the restaurant.  Before even seeing the beer menu I ordered a glass of Enjoy by.  While sipping it I got a beer menu and saw that they were offering a special deal for the beer, a glass, and the t-shirt.  While that may be turning the rare beer a little too commercial, I really couldn’t help myself and went for the entire combo.

I was really impressed by Stone’s Enjoy by.  I suppose I shouldn’t have been too surprised really, they create great beer.  I knew this was supposed to be a day dedicated to black beers, but this was certainly too light to be called a black beer.  One beer that I have really been looking forward to from Stone is the final edition in their Vertical Epic series.  Vertical Epics are all designed to be consumed on a certain much later date.  This beer takes a much different approach.  It’s supposed to be consumed before a certain date: 12.21.12.  The brew has a nice sweet malty backbone, but it’s dominated by some big fresh wet hops.  Somehow it ends up being big and syrupy but also fresh and clean.  The beer’s alcoholic content is quite strong, but it’s relatively easy drinking.

The second beer I had got me a little closer to my goal for black beer Friday, but it was another I couldn’t help myself moment.  A few weeks ago I managed to grab a bottle of Lucky Bastard from Stone.  Cloverleaf didn’t make quite as much noise over having a keg of it, but I was really excited to give it a try.  I wanted to save my bottle for a little while, so I was happy I could try it without having to open my bottle up.  By this time I was enjoying my buffalo chicken salad. It may have been a lapse in judgement for my palate, so I have a feeling my taste was slightly effected.  This one had a very sweet malty backbone with hops that are really big, solid, and tangy.  There is a certain bold oaky earthy feel to it.  This one also had a big time warming effect as well.

My final beer had to be something big and black.  I knew my wife’s patience was running out, so I needed to get my actual black beer for black Friday before it was too late.  I decided I would join Cloverleaf’s MBA program while I was there, so I had to pick a black beer off a much more specified list.  There were a few good choices; however, I checked my Untapped account to see what I hadn’t checked into yet.  I’ve had Old Rasputin before, but my app didn’t show it, so I decided to go with the big creamy imperial stout.  I’ve done a full review of Rasputin before, but I decided to take a couple of notes on it.  It has some super big chocolate notes with light coffee and roasted notes.  The mouthfeel is almost like alcoholic chocolate milk.  It’s probably one of the most creamy beers I’ve ever had.  I don’t really remember that as much the last time, so I’m thinking it may have been slightly different on tap.

I may have come up a little short of my black beer goals last Friday, but I had a great day for some of the more rare craft beers.  I’m hopeful Enjoy by will make its way here in bottles, but I am real happy I got to have it.  While it wasn’t a Black Friday filled with Black beers, they were certainly good beers that helped me forget the pains of shopping.

Stone Brewing Co – Mint Chocolate Imperial Stout

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+

Delicious!

Sam Adams Brewing Co – Longshot Winners 2011

I feel a very different connection to reviewing these particular beers. Everyone who spends hours pouring thoughts into a recipe, boiling water, producing wort, and attempting to cool that wort excessively fast dreams of getting people to drink their beer on a big level.  When I brew my different beers, I end up handing out over half of it.  It’s something about wanting to get a little recognition for brewing a good beer.  We only partly brew for our own consumption; we mostly brew to get that pat on the back from your friends.  Well these guys got a huge pat on the back by Sam Adams this past year.  Who knows if these guys are any closer to opening their own brewery, but maybe this is one big step in that directions, and I’m extremely jealous.

Evidently Sam Adams has been running the Longshot contest since 1995.  Jim Koch is perhaps the best example of a man with a dream to make good beer making it really big in the end.  We’ve probably all heard about how he personally went around selling his beer to different bars.  Clearly he managed to make it big in the end; however, people who love craft beer seem to always wonder if we call it craft or big beer.  Regardless of whether you think they are craft or not, it doesn’t really matter.  We who brew beer all want to be him, and we’re extremely happy when he uses his status to bring some light to the little guys.  Plus, you know you’re always fine to have a Sam when you’re stuck in a situation that is slim pickins!

The Longshot contest brought to light three different fellas with three different styles of beer this year.  Corey Martin produced a beer called A Dark Night in Munich which is a Munich Dunkel.  Fred Hessler produced Derf’s Secret Alt.  I’m not sure if it’s fair to give this award to Fred as he is an employee of Sam Adams, but that may just be the jealousy talking.  Finally, Joe Formanek produced the Five Crown Imperial Stout.  Joe has been brewing this beer for the past 15 years, so I guess this was a long time coming.  I should probably brew beer a few more years before I get completely unjustifiably jealous over their success.  There have been a few different winners of this contest that have managed to parlay their success into an actual brewery, so you may want to keep an eye on these guys.  Big things may be in their future.

Derf’s Secret Alt – This beer had me thinking a lot of the different old stock ales I’ve had of late.  The little write up on the side of the bottle states that this one is a Sticke Alt style of beer.  Evidently this can also be known an altbier.  This style of beer is a top fermenting beer.  I’m not entirely sure of how it works, but it sounds like this was how Germans managed to create lagers before they realized they needed to ferment at lower temperatures.  Perhaps someone can confirm or deny that?  Anyway, it has a lot of sweet molasses and burnt sugar quality to it.  There are some ample fig and raisin sweet malts in here as well.  The hops are certainly there; however, they are basically buried in malts.  There is a very big bready feel overall, and you get a big booze finish to this on as well.

A Dark Night in Munich – This beer is known as a Munich-style Dunkel.  Dunkels are a dark german style lager that isn’t too strong on the alcohol, but it has an ample amount of smooth malty flavor to it.  This beer certainly lived up to the big bold malt flavoring.  There were once again a lot of ample big brown sugar and molasses flavors to it.  It has a little bit of that fig and raisin flavor mixed in there, but it really isn’t prominent as it was in the last one.  There is a lot of light roasted flavors to this one; although, it isn’t anything like the roasted notes you get out of a stout or porter.  The roasted flavors are more just slight hints as accents to this one.  There are some very mild hops which aren’t too noticeable at all.  Finally, you get a little boozy flavor to it, but it is really only slight.  I thought a beer this dark would wallop me with booze, but it is actually quite drinkable.

Five Crown Imperial Stout – This beer had me the most excited.  I think it could be because it’s the style I’m most familiar with.  Also, it’s the one I’m most looking forward to brewing this coming fall.  I only started brewing in February, so I kind of felt like I missed optimal time to put together a good stout.  This one poured out a super dark black oily color.  There was a big brown head that developed on top as well.  The beer had a lot of creamy dark chocolate flavors with a lot of coffee as well.  I kind of thought it was a little light on the roasted notes for me, especially for an imperial; however, I still really liked it.  There was a really nice and noticeable amount of hops included in this on as well.  Overall I found it really crisp and clean for a stout.

I know I’m certainly inclined to pick this six-pack up because I want to see what other homebrews are putting together.  These three got a huge amount of recognition from Sam Adams, so I thought it would be a really good way to measure some of the stuff I’m putting out.  I’m sure I’m nowhere near where these fellas are; however, I hope to enter contests like these relatively soon and be this successful.  I have a tough time putting a teacher grade on these.  I honestly think they are all A’s in my book.  However, I think A Dark Night in Munich was my favorite!

February’s Stout Report Card

As promised earlier this week, I wanted to do a little report card to sum up the findings of stout month.  Looking back on some of these beers, it’s a little tough to decide who comes in at the top of the class, and who didn’t make the grade; however, I want to do my best here to rank my findings on these different beers.  Mid-month I did some tweaking of the grading system; therefore, some people will question why a beer that received a B grade later in the month manages to make it above a beer that got an A grade earlier in the month. Under my new parameters, I believe I would have found these beers ranking slightly differently; therefore, I think this report card will do a fair job of really showing the ultimate rankings here.  Two beers actually happened at the end of January, but they were my last post in the month of January, and I wanted to include them in this ranking.  Therefore, take a look at the different rankings.  I also included a few beers that were just darker beers for the month.  Really this report card reflects the order through which I would drink these again.  Perhaps, if you’re still thinking of picking up some stouts, this post will give you a good idea of which ones to pick up.  I wanted to go from the bottom to the top.  Seems more dramatic to me.  Enjoy!

10. Dogfish HeadChicory Stout (Initial grade: C)

9. Victory Brewing CoDark Intrigue (Initial Grade: B)

8. Yards Brewing CoGeorge Washington Tavern Porter (Initial Grade: B-)

7. Epic Brewing CoBig Bad Baptist Stout (Initial Grade: B+)

6. Avery Brewing CoMephistopheles Stout (Initial Grade: A)

5. Smuttynose Brewing CoS’muttonator Doppelbock (Initial Grade: A)

4. Green Flash Brewing CoDouble Stout (Initial Grade: A)

3. New Holland Brewing CoDragon’s Milk (Initial Grade: A)

2. Founder’s Brewing CoImperial Stout (Initial Grade: A)

1. Victory Brewing CoStorm King Stout (Initial Grade: A)

I’m not sure everyone will agree with me on the order of this listing; however, I feel pretty strongly I got this one right.  In my opinion, Dogfish Head was clearly the bottom of the barrel here.  I didn’t particularly enjoy it, and I felt like there could have been a whole lot more flavor added into it.  I dropped Dark Intrigue pretty far down because I felt like it was far too dark and heavy for easy drinking.  I even split that one with a friend and still found it a little tough to drink.  Big Bad Baptist almost made it higher; however, I did agree these other beers seemed slightly superior to it.  I think the top three or four were the hardest to figure out.  Founder’s almost took it, but I think the overall thickness of the brew kept it from really getting the number one spot.  It’s like drinking a glass of milk, and I like something with a little more carbonation added in.  Storm King, in my mind, was the most well-rounded and balanced stout out of all of them.  The flavors were great and in your face, and it wasn’t too over powering on syrup or booze.

I don’t know if other months are dedicated to other styles of beer, but I did enjoy taking one month to focus on a particular style of beer.  I feel like I really learned what I like and don’t like about the stout style, and I found a few beers that I will definitely look for in the future.  Now I think I’ll start drinking a few lighter beers to get ready for my trip to Jamaica next month!