Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Creme Brulee Imperial Stout, Southern Tier

Part of Southern Tier's "Blackwater" Series of Imperial beers this is a special treat. First thing that hits you when you crack open the 22oz bomber is the aroma - it smells amazing! Just like the delicious burnt custard dessert it is named for (who knew that it had such a contentious history by the way - read the bottle yourself for more details on this) it smells just like creme brulee.

The pour is not as impressive, a rather ho-hum routine black body with a light tan head and not much in the way of carbonization or lacing. The taste however is a revelation - roasty caramel, vanilla, butterscotch with a sugary sweetess. Not for the lactose intolerant! This dessert beer is a definite sipper that should be shared and enjoyed in moderation as it gets a little sickening. I will admit it seems a little out of place drinking this in the middle of August, this seems more appropriate for a crisp Autumn evening, which is why I bought an extra bottle to cellar. I suggest you do the same! This is an absolutely unique beer that deserves your attention. Best enjoyed in a snifter at 42F, 9.6%ABV.

More info from the brewery :

PLEASE NOTE: This is a Milk Stout. Lactose sugar is added and is present in the product.
We are not the harbingers of truth as some may suggest but it may indeed be argued that our brewing philosophy is tantamount to a dessert with a bellicose past. How, you may ask, would a brewery determine a likeness to hard-coated custard? Our response is simple; it’s all in the power of history, and of course, the extra finesse needed to top off a contentious treat with definition.
By comprehending the labyrinthine movement of time, one would not think it strange to trace the errant path of an ordinary object such as a cream dessert only to discover that it has been the cause of cultural disputes since the middle ages. The British founders of burnt cream and from Spain, crema catalana, both stand by their creative originality and we respect that, but it was the French Crème Brûlée, amid the strife of contention, that survived to represent our deliciously creamy brew.
9.6% abv • 195º L • 25º plato • 22 oz / 1/6 keg
2-row pale malt / dark caramel malt / vanilla bean / lactose sugar / kettle hops: columbus / aroma hops: horizon
Rating: B (to be re-visited)

I must admit I didn't enjoy this beer as much as I remembered, last year I was blown away by it. Not sure if it's because it's just too early (mid-August) to be drinking such an exotic brew or if it just needs to sit awhile. I'll have to see what I think when I crack open another bomber in a couple months. One thing for sure it does not match the velvety luxurious richness of "Choklat", which I enjoyed more. Incidentally, is it just me that thinks it's ridiculous to already see Octoberfest and Fall seasonal releases already on the beer shelves before summer is even over? Seems like it gets earlier every year. As much as I like a decent marzen I can't bring myself to have one until at least September.

Useless information alert :

Creme Brulee is also know as Burnt Cream, Crema Catalana or Trinity Dessert and is a dessert consisting of a rich custard base topped with a contrasting layer of hard caramel, usually served cold. The earliest know reference to the term creme brulee was in a cookbook dated 1691 by French chef Francois Massialot.

So their you have it....(thanks Wikipedia).

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Lagunitas Little Sumpin' Wild Ale

"Another big sister of the little sumpin' sumpin' ale. Loads of malted wheat for a curious malt foundation and a light colour, but our Belgian yeast leaves a huge flavour and complexiness".

Classified as a Belgian Pale Ale, this has all the hallmarks of a Lagunitas beer - piney, citrus, grapefruity hops. Don't be fooled by the light golden yellow pour, this is a big beer, with a 9.4% ABV to match. Brewed with a Belgian yeast strain (Westmalle) that imparts a spicy, orange and a hint of honey, has a subtle dry finish. With 72 IBU's I'd be more inclined to call this a double IPA or a Belgian IPA but whatever you want to label it it is undeniably delicious. I've rarely been disappointed with Lagunitas' seasonals (Brown Shugga, Hairy Eyeball, Undercover Shutdown Ale are all favourites) and it's true that using a blindfold you could identify the trademark Lagunitas taste but so what? It's all good.

I'm an admirer of any brewery that gives value for money (Sierra Nevada immediately springs to mind) and Lagunitas always does - $9.99 or so a sixer is a steal for this delectable brew.

Little Sumpin' Wild Ale 9.4%ABV 72.51 IBU's Original Gravity (OG) 1.082

Rating : A-

Footnote :

I had the good fortune to meet Karen Hamilton (Midwest Regional Vice Manager) just as I had decided to feature Lil' Sumpin" Wild as my pick of the week at the store I work at it this past week. What a great lady! She told me that her brother actually owned the brewery and they purposely strived to brew beers that offered affordability as well as having the same distinctive Lagunitas trademark taste. They want people to detect that it's a Lagunitas brew. To her credit she also said that many bars had told them they could command "Hopslam-esque" prices for their "Hop Stoopid" beer (retails for about $4.99 for a 22oz bomber) but they don't care, they want to remain affordable and approachable. Not that I need any incentive to drink Lagunitas but that refreshing approach just makes it taste that little bit better!

"Beer Speaks, People Mumble".

More info :


Address : 1280 North McDowell Boulevard, Petaluma CA 94954
Ph: 707-769-4495