Tag Archives: Stout

Innis & Gunn Irish Cask Stout

This beer was one that was looked forward to by us. The Innis & Gunn Irish Cask Stout  was released in early 2012 for St. Patrick’s Day. Aged for 60 days in barrels that housed a triple distilled Irish whiskey, this beer boasts a full flavored and complex taste to enjoy any time of the year, not just March 17th!

-Tristan

*****

Heavier and darker than all other Innis & Gunn beers, the stout shares the unique Innis & Gunn quality of smooth, low carbonated, oak-imbued richness. While the stout flavours are somewhat dampered by the oak, they are at the forefront of the beer. The typical Innis & Gunn sweetness is mostly replaced by flavours of roast, malt, and whisky. Some vanilla certainly remains, though.

On both the nose and the palate is mostly the malt, yet the beer retains the lingering smoothness on the palate typical of Innis & Gunn. It is significantly lighter, though creamy and velvetty, than your typical ‘stout’. This results in a nice crisp, inoffensive finish. This might be where my problem with this beer lies: It’s good, no doubt, but, as an oak infused stout, I expected stronger flavours. I expected more whisky, more vanilla, and a more vibrant beer all-around.

Nose: 20
Body: 22
Taste: 20
Finish: 21

Kamran: 83 pts.

*****

As demonstrated by this point, if you haven’t noticed, Innis and Gunn is a long running favourite of ours, and this particular brew is no exception. Similarities in nose carry over with vanilla, chocolate and malt sweetness. Has a similar scent that reminds me of Red Truck Brewing’s Madscow or Crannog Ales’ Backhhand of God… both very well done local craft stouts! The body is a rich black tht fully encompasses mouth like North Coast’s Old Rasputin, more velvety than the creamy sensation of a Guinness. There is a slight bitterness to it as well. The taste was malty, chocolate, vanilla-treacle notes, lightly balanced and not as complex as the 21 Year Highland Cask. The Finish is malty tones, slight hops, yet certainly the sweetness and oak are most prevalent.

While not my favourite by the brewery, it is a VERY welcome addition and one i hope they continue with for years to come. Probably if i were to drink this again, i would refrain from using it as a session beer as it is delicate in complexity and it boasts a high level of alcohol at 7.4%, therefore a better night cap or dessert beer.

Nose: 23.5
Body: 22.5
Taste: 23
Finish: 22

Tristan: 91 pts.

*****

Final Average: 87 pts.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Beer

Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout

Established in 1758, Yorkshire’s oldest brewery, Samuel Smith, is one of few major UK breweries that are being steadily imported by the BCLDB. At any time of the year, one my find a variety of beers produced by Samuel Smith, such as their Nut Brown, IPA, or, what we’re reviewing today, their Oatmeal Stout. Sold in single 500ml bottles, the beer, though relatively expensive, doesn’t break the bank — you don’t have to buy a whole 6-pack! — so it’s certainly worth the risk!

– Kamran

*****

To me, there is no risk involved. This is a great oatmeal stout that will please the palate of any and all guzzler’s of dark beer. Though originally used as a marketing tool, the addition of oatmeal, here, is not done in vain, as it’s done in some other so-called oatmeal stouts. The small proportion of oats lend a protein-based smoothness and a slight enhancement of the vanilla sweetness already contained in the stout. While I’m a huge fan of Guinness, I’d highly recommend trying Sam Smith as an alternative for stout incorporated cooking.

The nose has plenty of malt, but not enough to overwhelm. This is similar on the palate, where the sweetness of the oatmeal, as well as the variety of malts, come through. It is quite delicate, and finely balanced; however, I’d prefer more roast and hops than what is given — Mcauslan (St. Amroise) Oatmeal Stout fits this bill. The body is rich, creamy, and smooth, but also fairly heavy. This, of course, is expected of a stout. On the finish, there is a lingering sweetness that is quite savoury. Overall, this is a great beer, a must try, and one I will continually return to.

Nose: 21
Body: 21
Taste: 21.5
Finish: 21.5

Kamran: 85 pts.

*****

Oatmeal stout is something I usually find thicker, and sweeter than a typical stout. However there were some noticeable differences, such as the beer was less creamy thick as I’m usually accustomed to and the flavor wasn’t as sweet. It was almost as if it were a more delicate silky texture to it, which was a nice feeling in the mouth.

The nose was understandably sweet from the malt, but I picked up on notes I typically detect in scotch to be faintly noticeable. The body was solid black in colour, less creamy than a Guinness opting for that more silky texture. The taste was rich and savory once the initial malt had flashed the palate. The richness of it would lead to me to assume that after one bottle of this beer, would have the same filling reaction as a couple of creamy stouts. The finish was an unobtrusive sweetness that was savory and dry.

I, like Kamran, did really enjoy this beer. It was a nice complexity for a stout that was neither too heavy or watered down. Due to it being an imported product it may seem expensive, but well worth it if you wish to treat yourself to a solid evening beer. Next Samuel Smith beer to try will be the Taddy Porter which is currently in my beer fridge.

Nose: 20
Body: 23.5
Taste: 19
Finish: 21

Tristan: 83.5 pts.

*****

Final average: 84.25 pts.

Leave a comment

Filed under Beer

Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout

Here we have a relatively special beer from Brooklyn Brewing, a craft brewery located in, you guessed it, Brooklyn. While the flavour of chocolate is quite often imparted organically in the making of a stout, some brewmasters, especially in recent times, will add chocolate into the mix, post fermentation. In this case, we have black chocolate added to give Brooklyn’s stout an extra little kick.

– Kamran

*****

I love dark chocolate, and I love dark beers: I will love this. This seems logical, right? Well, though logical, it was only partially right. I didn’t love this beer, but I did rightly enjoy it.

Beneath the malty sweetness lies a noticeable, but relatively subdued, chocolate aroma. With air and a bit of warmth, the chocolate comes out more. At 10%, the beer is heavy, and, actually, a bit harsh. The alcohol unfortunately takes away from the flavour & smoothness lent by the chocolate. However, if you hold the liquid in your mouth, like how you might do with a whisky, some of the alcohol evaporates and the beer gets some air through it, making it creamier — velvety — and more flavourful.

On the palate, the beer goes from having a malt sweetness, to being slightly tart, and finishes with a light hop bitterness. In all three respects, the sensations are quite mild. The finish doesn’t leave much, aside from the remaining malt tones; however, upon exhalation, the chocolate comes out more. So, drink this beer while breathing out your mouth!

Nose: 19
Body: 19.5
Taste: 20.5
Finish: 20

Kamran: 79 pts.

*****

I am very much a fan of solid porters and stouts as I may have mentioned in previous posts, and I for one did really enjoy the richness of this particular Brooklyn brew. At 10% alc/vol. this beer has a wee bit o’ strength to it, hidden within one of heavier and certainly blackest stouts on the market. If one considers Guinness a meal in a glass and struggles to finish one, I’d likely suggest stealing a few sips from a friend who orders this as opposed to a whole pint or bottle.

The aroma of the beer is one of malt and chocolate… as if anything else were to be expected?! The body is heavy and thick, with a velvety texture when held in the mouth. Certainly some level of complexity to balance the malt and chocolate, but the alcohol is evident and adds a little roughness to the mix – so not exactly a smooth sipper. Surprisingly, this stout wasn’t as chocolate flavored as I expected compared to stouts I’ve tried at craft pubs like the Alibi Room or St. Augustine’s in Vancouver. Perhaps it was the noticeable presence of the higher alcohol percentage, or the type of chocolate used, but I expected a more dominant taste in that regard. The finish was bitter followed what i can only describe as a brief tartness followed by a longer lasting mix of chocolate and slight hops.

While the lack of chocolate taste and the “tartness” I sensed at the end were two detractors from the beer, it wasn’t bad at all. I did enjoy the richness of it but unlike Guinness, I could not drink more than one or two of these in a night. However, while not a stout, a local chocolate porter that’s just as good would be the Phillips Chocolate Porter which is much lighter and more chocolate tasting.

Nose: 21.5
Body: 24
Taste: 19
Finish: 19

Tristan: 83.5 pts.

*****

Final Average: 81.25 pts.

Leave a comment

Filed under Beer

Ebulum Elderberry Ale

Last in our Historic Ales Of Scotland collection from Williams Brothers. This review came later than the others since, considering how dark it is — Guinness black! — we tasted it later in the evening. As you ought to know now from what we’ve said about the Williams Brothers collection, it uses a specific historical ingredient — one which was used for centuries of beer fermentation before it inexplicably ceased. In this case, elderberries are used!

– Kamran

*****

The nose is quite inviting. As one would expect of a dark beer, it’s relatively malty, making it fairly sweet; however, complementing the sweet malt smell are notes of fruit — elderberries, blackberries, blackcurrants, etc.. Moreover, the beer must be using roasted malt, because there are notes of coffee and burnt chocolate. This is typical of stouts and porters, but a beer need not be a stout or porter to contain roasted malt. These flavours likewise fall on the palate, with notes of blackberries — probably elderberries too, but I don’t recognize them as well — and roasted malt being the clearest expression of the beer’s unique character. While I initially found the nose quite profound, the taste blew me away — this is a highly flavourful, well integrated beer.

Although quite dark, even darker than the Big Smoke Ale we just reviewed, it is fairly easy drinking. This is likely why it’s not considered a stout/porter — the body just isn’t there. In other words, there are flavours typical of stouts/porters, but the texture just isn’t there. While I’d prefer a bit more body to it — the flavours deserve some extra substance — it’s refreshing to have such a dark beer that doesn’t weigh you down. The finish is quite long and pleasant; however, after just a few seconds the sweetness instilled by the elderberries — the fresh and fruity sweetness — dies off and leaves only the taste of the malt.

The Ebulum Elderberry Ale is quite delicious, and one of the best beers we have tasted thus far. Also, it’s the beer we have come closest to meeting each other’s scores, with the diversity of our scores being merely a few points apart; this certainly speaks to its approachability, since we clearly have different tastes. While I prefer the Fraoch Heather Ale, the Ebulum Elderberry Ale is a close second from the Williams Brothers. It’s too bad that they don’t release singles of this guy; I’d love to try it again, and I guess I’ll just have to wait until the collection comes back next Christmas.

Nose: 21.5
Body: 20.5
Taste: 23.5
Finish: 21.5

Kamran: 87 pts.

*****

My favourite of the mixer pack, this beer was such a unique surprise that its originality won me over! While I have not had much exposure to elderberries outside of their incorporation into certain bake goods, this beer changed my opinion of them. And it’s not just elderberries, as mentioned by Kamran there are a variety of fruity/berry flavours contained in this dark beer.

The fruity sweet nose is also herbal and malty and frankly the best part of this beer. Only a couple of beers have beat the score I gave for the scent of this beer which says a lot. The darkness of this beer makes it appear to be heavier then it actually is, but in reality it is a smoother less creamy texture than Guinness or other stouts or some porters. However, if asked what type this beer more closely resembled, either a stout or porter, I would have to say it is closer to the latter. The taste of the berries is unmistakable amongst the  malty tones, allowing for a sweet refreshing ale. The finish is not prolonged. It is smooth and almost chocolaty from a roasted malt, yet simultaneously herbal. A unique and enjoyable combination.

This beer is more than a one-off. It’s complex, smooth and it’s memorable! Good for a session ale with friends, it further proves that not all black coloured beers need be “liquid bread” and super filling.  I look forward to its return in Canadian stores.

Nose: 24
Body: 20.5
Taste: 21.5
Finish: 20

Trisan: 86 pts.

*****

Final Average: 86.5

1 Comment

Filed under Beer

Storm Brewing/Russell Brewing Big Smoke Ale

This limited release collaboration beer between Storm Brewing and Russell Brewing has been around for just a few months. Producing one of the first of a slew of collaboration beers that have been released over the past several months, brewmasters Jack Bensley (Russell Brewing) and James Walton (Storm Brewing) are pioneering a kinsman-like spirit for the Vancouver craft beer community.

The name Big Smoke is derived from its unique approach to beer fermentation: using peated malt! Well, some peated malt — 10% to be exact. If you’re unaware, peat is vegetation that is primarily used in Scotland to dry barley malt. This technique, using peat fires, is especially used in Islay single malts, and gives it that characteristic vegetal flavour — grass, moss, dust, dampness, etc.. It’s a little difficult to describe, but quite obvious once you’ve tried a peated whisky. Because of its association with drying of the malt in peat fires, peat flavours often come in tandem with a smoky quality. Peat is, in fact, often mistaken for smoke; truth is, while these two aspects typically come hand in hand, they are not inextricable — there are some very smoky, lightly peated whiskies, as well as some highly peated, lightly smoked whiskies, but this is all relative.

When it comes to beer, peated malt is unusual, but can be quite the pleasantry for a whisky drinker. Some other peated beers include Unibroue’s Raftman, Williams Brothers Fraoch Heather Ale — where the peat and heather come in part from the water sources of Scotland, and, though not actually using peat, (whisky) barrel aged beers — Phillip’s Double Barrel Scotch Ale, Driftwood’s Singularity etc. — tend to give off some peat flavour. Besides the peat, the Big Smoke is a heavy, malty, thick, dark, high percentage beer; a true sipping beer that’s not for the faint of heart.

– Kamran

*****

Amidst the light, effervescent peat smoke aroma is a solid malt backbone. As a single-malt enthusiast who loves his peaty scotches — Ardbeg, Laphroaig, Ileach, etc. — I was rather disappointed that the peat does not shine through as much as I’d hoped. In fact, the malt all but overwhelms the notes of peat. That said, with careful concentration, one may extract moments where peat instilled flavonoids connect with one’s receptors. The feeling is quite pleasant, however, this is much too much work, and I don’t want to have to pay such careful attention to access the best parts of a beer; these parts should be the forefront of the beer.

While the body is enjoyably creamy, the beer is quite heavy. You certainly don’t want to be drinking more than one of this tallboy bottle badboy. Though not considered a stout, it reaches certain stout-like parameters — heaviness, thickness (the definition of stout), and darkness. While the malty taste is excellent — especially the initial flavour — it does not last; the finish, while retaining the taste of alcohol, loses its sweet malt flavours.

All things considered, the Big Smoke is an exceptional beer, and while not fitting for all occasions, there are some instances — perhaps while sitting in front of a fire on a cold night — where it would be perfect. So, don’t miss out on it while it’s still around!

Nose: 20.5
Body: 21
Taste: 23
Finish: 21.5

Kamran: 86 pts.

*****

As you can tell, Kamran has left little room for expansion on this particular beer; I suppose he really enjoyed it!  Just along the basics of this beer then, I found it to be one of the best beers we had that night.

The nose was a rich malt that, while stronger than the peat notes, was still an enticing factor to salivate for this beer. The body was a thick and heavy combination that went down creamy and smooth, much like certain stouts. The taste was naturally malty and slightly peaty to my senses, but it also possessed a slightly cocoa-like flavour. The finish is a brief encounter to say the least. It fades rather fast for my liking, but it is a smooth malty presence that is enjoyable prior to dissipation.

This beer is one I’ve had on a couple of occasions since the tasting, and I have to say, it is a nice treat to have and even share late at night. Well done Russell/Storm, but you’ve now set a high standard for any future collaborations!!!

Nose: 21
Body: 24
Taste: 22
Finish: 20

Tristan: 90 pts.

*****

Final Average: 88 pts.

Leave a comment

Filed under Beer