Tag Archives: Stout

Sam Adams Brewing the American Dream

Sam Adams releases a number of variety packs over the course of the year, usually changing them with each season. This month they also released a special new pack, called the Brewing The American Dream Collaboration Pack. This 12-pack features two bottles of Boston Lager along with two bottles each of five new collaboration beers. Each collaboration is with a brewery that helped get their start by participating in the Sam Adams Brewing for the American Dream program, which provides training and loans that helped make these brewers dreams a reality. Profits from this 12 pack will be funneled back into the program to help the next generation of American brewers get started. I was very excited to try the beers in this pack (disclosure: they were provided by Sam Adams). Here are my thoughts on each shown in order of how much I liked them, starting with my personal favorite.

Sam Adams Tea Party SaisonBoston Tea Party Saison: Collaboration with Woods Beer Company in San Francisco, CA. Boston Tea Party is a saison brewed with yerba mate tea, coriander and grains of paradise and fermented with the yeast strain used in Sam Adams Kosmic Mother Funk. My favorite beer in the pack, funky yeast on the nose and tons of flavor from the fermentation, apple, pear, a little acidity along with the distinct flavor imparted by the Brettanomyces. The spices add complexity without overwhelming the beer, and the finish is dry and just a touch tart. A complex but still easy to drink saison.

Sam Adams Oats McGoatsOats McGoats Stout: Collaboration with Brewery Rickoli in Wheat Ridge, CO. Oats McGoats is a gluten-reduced oatmeal stout. A little roasted barley on the nose, and full dark malt flavors, milk chocolate, toffee, espresso. A little bit of herbal hops round out this full bodied but still easy drinking beer. You would have no idea the beer is gluten-reduced, it’s a tasty and flavorful stout.

Sam Adams ThreeNinety BockThreeNinety Bock: Collaboration with Roc Brewing in Rochester, NY. ThreeNinety is a Helles Bock brewed with Mosaic and Hallertau Mittelfrueh hops and named after the distance between Boston and Rochester. This is a super drinkable maibock, crisp and clean. The crackers and bread from the malts meld well with grassy and herbal hops. I enjoyed the beer, but I would have liked to see the fruity Mosaic hops shine through a little more, it would have made it a little more unique.

Sam Adams Time Hop PorterTime Hop Porter: Collaboration with ChuckAlek Independent Brewers, Ramona, CA. Time Hop is a hopped up porter brewed with Zeus, Chinook, Cascade and Goldings hops. Dark chocolate and black coffee notes from the malt combine with grass, pine and lemon from the hops. Smooth, drinkable and not too boozy at 5.3% ABV. I have mixed opinions on this beer, it was a interesting take on a porter with the extra hops, but not what I usually love about the style. Hop-heads might love this beer, for me it was just OK.

Sam Adams Desert KaleidoscopeDesert Kaleidoscope IPA: Collaboration with Bosque Brewing in Albuquerque, NM. A West Coast IPA brewed with Zeus, Cascade, Mosaic and Ekuanot hops. This IPA features solid hop flavor, notes of pine, lemon and grass along with substantial malt, with touches of honey and caramel. I would have liked some more hop aroma, for me that pungent aroma is make or break in an IPA and I didn’t get enough of it here.

Previous Sam Adams Reviews:

Sam Adams 26.2, Sam Adams Hopscape and Fresh As HellesSam Adams Rebel RawSam Adams Rebel RouserSam Adams Double Bock, Sam Adams Cold Snap, Sam Adams Octoberfest

 

Otter Creek Russian Imperial Stout

Otter Creek made a big announcement recently, after 8.5 years their head brewer Mike Gerhart is leaving the brewery. Rumor has it that he is taking a job with Hill Farmstead, which is widely considered one of the best breweries in the world. Gerhart has played an instrumental role as Otter Creek overhauled their brand over the last few years, developing a completely new lineup of beers focusing on hop-forward offerings. This re-branding has included all new artwork that heavily features the bearded and tye-dyed character  of Gerhart on the majority of their bottles and cans (usually accompanied by his dog). It should be interesting to see how the brand evolves going forward, their new beers have been very well received and it looks like they have a stable of up and coming brewers who are ready to take the reigns. In addition to all of the varieties of IPA that Otter Creek is brewing, we’ve seen them dabble in dark beers, including a big and boozy Russian Imperial Stout. Otter Creek Russian Imperial Stout is available in the winter on draft and in 12 oz. bottles.

Otter Creek Russian Imperial StoutOtter Creek Russian Imperial Stout pours pitch black with a minimal tan head. The scent is mostly roasted malts along with a little alcohol. The flavor is malt forward, notes of dark chocolate, raisin and toffee. You also get some booze in the flavor, but it isn’t overpowering. Some late hops round out the flavor with hints of grass and earth along with a bit of bitterness. Otter Creek Russian Imperial Stout is a full bodied sipper and it packs a wallop at 10% ABV. The finish is dry with some lingering malt flavor. For a brewery that has focused it’s efforts on hop forward beers Otter Creek makes some tasty dark and malty brews too. This one is worth a shot as imperial stout season winds to a close. Hoppy Boston score: 4.25/5.

Amherst Two Sisters and Jess

My wife has to travel locally as part of her job, and we’ve started to do a little research to see if there are any brewery stops that are out of the way normally but on her travel route. This is the place where you can rave about how awesome my wife is, you know it’s love when she goes on a work trip and brings back beer. One of her regular stops is in Amherst, MA and the office she visits is right down the road from The Hangar Pub and Grill which doubles as the home of Amherst Brewing Company. I think the last time I was in Amherst was for a rugby tournament my junior year in college (which was more than a few years ago), so this was my first opportunity to try any of Amherst Brewing Co.’s beers. My wife grabbed a nice selection, and we have sampled most of what they had available at the time. I’ll just review two of the beers here (for now), but I enjoyed a number of the beers I tried. All of Amherst’s beers are available on draft and in 16 oz. tallboy cans to go.

Amherst Two Sisters StoutAmherst Two Sisters Stout pours deep brown with a massive tan head. The scent is full of roasted malt aromas. The flavor is also malt forward, notes of milk chocolate, toffee and brown sugar. There is minimal hops, some earthy notes and a hint of late bitterness. Two sisters has a medium-full body, drinks easy and isn’t too boozy at 6.7% ABV. The finish has a touch of sweetness with some lingering roasted malt flavor. I’ve been asking for more non-imperial, non-barrel aged stouts and this is a nice example, plenty of malt flavor and a little sweetness without being cloying. Hoppy Boston score: 4.25/5.

Amherst JessAmherst Jess pours a hazy orange with a small white head. The scent is a huge burst of New World hops, tons of citrus and tropical fruit. The flavor is also very hop forward, notes of grapefruit, guava, honeydew and orange. There is also a little bitter kick, it’s still a New England style IPA but not the zero-bitterness hop juice that many breweries are making. There is enough malt to add a little balance, touches of bread dough and honey. Jess is medium bodied and very easy to drink but packs a little punch at 7.3% ABV. The finish is crisp with some lingering hop flavor that keeps you coming back for more. This is a very good IPA and worth the drive out west to grab! Hoppy Boston score: 4.5/5.

SoMe Whoopie Pie Stout

Well, that escalated quickly. There was no new snow on the ground when I woke up this morning, and by late this afternoon I had almost a foot to clean up. Fortunately I have become a good suburbanite and purchased a snow-blower, that investment has already paid off despite the relatively low snowfall totals this winter. I am also fortunate to work for a company that told everyone yesterday that the office was closed today and we could work from home. Cold and snowy days call for rich and malty dark beers. A great example is Whoopie Pie Stout from SoMe Brewing Company in Maine. Did you know that as many as five states claim to be the original home of the whoopee pie? One of the states with a strong case is Maine, where it is the official state treat and the town of Dover-Foxcroft hosts the annual whoopee pie festival. It makes sense that a Maine brewery would use this chocolate and cream sandwich as the inspiration for a beer. SoMe Whoopie Pie Stout is a milk stout brewed with cocoa nibs and vanilla beans. It is available year-round on draft and in 22 oz. bottles.

some-whoopie-pie-stoutSoMe Whoopie Pie Stout pours pitch black with a small tan head. The scent is a mixture of rich roasted malt, cocoa and vanilla. The flavor is very malt forward, notes of milk chocolate, coffee and licorice. The adjuncts blend in well, adding subtle complexity. There is just enough hop character to balance out the sweetness, which is present but restrained. Whoopie Pie Stout has a medium to full body, smooth mouthfeel and isn’t overly boozy at 6.3% ABV. The finish is dry with some lingering chocolate and roasted malt flavors. This is an exceptional milk stout, complex and tons of flavor without being cloying. A perfect beer for a cold and snowy day like today! Hoppy Boston score: 4.75/5.

Previous SoMe reviews:

SoMe Templeton Saison

Cold Harbor Indian Summer and Truffle Stout

After that amazing, unbelievable football game last night I am physically, emotionally and mentally exhausted (not a complaint at all), but I needed to knock out a #MassBrewMonday review in honor of the greatest dynasty in NFL history. On Saturday I had a very small amount of free time and made my first trip to Cold Harbor Brewing Company in Westborough. They have a cozy taproom with tasting flights and full pours along with growlers to go, but unfortunately I couldn’t hang out and sample beers. I was out running errands and had just enough time to run in and fill a couple growlers. Fortunately I got some recommendations on Twitter (thank you @MassBrewBros!) and grabbed 32 oz growlers of their Indian Summer IPA and Truffle Stout, a dark ale brewed with blackberries and Taza chocolate.

cold-harbor-indian-summerCold Harbor Indian Summer IPA pours a murky dark yellow with a solid white head. The scent is a big burst of tropical fruit from the late hop additions. This is very much a New England style IPA. There is tons of fruity hop flavor with notes of peach, mango, guava and papaya but minimal bitterness. There is a little malt, touches of wheat bread and biscuits. Indian Summer is medium bodied, not too boozy at 6% ABV and finishes with lingering hop flavor but no bitter bite. I am a big fan of many of the New England style IPAs, and this is a good version, but I could use just a little bitterness or non-tropical fruit flavors as an added dimension. Hoppy Boston score: 4.0/5.

cold-harbor-truffle-stoutCold Harbor Truffle Stout pours dark brown with a small off-white head. The scent is full of rich roasted malt and cocoa. The flavor is very malt forward, notes of milk chocolate, espresso and toffee. I don’t get much blackberry flavor, just a hint for complexity. Some earthy hops add balance and a little late bitterness. Truffle Stout has a full body but drinks easy, with just a touch of malt sweetness in the finish. This is a delicious stout, tons of flavor, complex but approachable, and worth the trip to Westborough to try. Hoppy Boston score: 4.5/5.

Night Shift Bennington

I am a huge IPA fan, but I am getting a little burned out on all of the hop bombs. Most breweries are making multiple IPAs and adding huge doses of hops to everything, it feels like half of the bottles on the shelves at any good bottle shop are IPAs. I understand why this is the case, IPAs pay the bills, but beer can be amazing without being loaded with hops. So I’ve made a decision, in 2017 I am going to make an active effort to predominantly buy, drink and review non-IPAs. I’m hoping to find amazing local beers that cover a wider range of styles. In the winter that it going to mean a large number of porters and stouts. Night Shift is probably best known for their barrel aged and sour specialty releases along with their hop-forward flagship beers, but they also make some delicious dark and malty ales. This year Night Shift decided to release Bennington, their oatmeal stout brewed with Dutch cocoa and maple syrup, in cans. Night Shift Bennington is available now on draft and in 16 oz. tallboy cans.

night-shift-benningtonNight Shift Bennington pours dark brown with a mild tan head. The scent is a mixture of rich roasted malts and cocoa. The beer is very malt forward, notes of milk chocolate, toffee and mocha. The cocoa and syrup meld well with these flavors, also adding a little sweetness. There are minimal hops, just enough to add a little balance and crispness to the finish. The oatmeal leads to a rich and full body that sips easy, it packs a little punch at 7.4% ABV but is far from an imperial. The finish is clean with a little malt flavor and lingering sugar. I have been asking for more tasty stouts and porters with more moderate ABVs, and this is a very nice version. My only quibble is that it skews slightly sweet for my personal taste, but it is still an interesting and flavorful beer. Hoppy Boston score: 4.25/5.

Previous Night Shift Reviews:

Night Shift WhirlpoolNight Shift AwakeNight Shift SantilliNight Shift MaracuyaNight Shift Mainer WeisseNight Shift Thunder Moon, Night Shift Morph IPA, Night Shift Ever Weisse, Night Shift Grove, Night Shift JoJo, Night Shift Taza Stout, Night Shift Simcoenation

 

Castle Island TBD

I had to shovel a little snow when I got home from work this evening, mostly just cleaning the porch and walkway, but enough to conclude that winter is officially here. With the winter months I am moving some more dark beers into the rotation, expect plenty of reviews of stouts, porters, barleywines and Belgian dark styles, especially once I clear out some of the hoppy beers that came back from Maine this Thanksgiving. One interesting take on a stout I sampled recently is TBD from Castle Island Brewing. This was the first beer Castle Island brewed, and the TBD moniker was originally a placeholder until they came up with an official name, but people loved the name (and the beer), so it stuck. TBD is labeled as a “hoppy stout”, which is an unusual designation. I typically like the dark malts to be the predominant flavors in my stouts and was a little concerned that the stout character would be lost with excessive hop additions, but I am always will to give something new a try. Castle Island TBD is available on a rotating basis on draft and in 16 oz. tallboy cans.

Castle Island TBD.pngCastle Island TBD pours pitch black with a solid light brown head. The scent is a mixture of roasty dark malt with a little floral hoppiness. The flavor is malt forward, notes of black coffee, dark chocolate, toffee and black licorice. This is complemented by a solid hit of hops for the style, touches of grass and pine along with noticeable bitterness. TBD is full bodied but goes down smooth, at 7.2% ABV it isn’t an imperial stout but isn’t a session beer either. The finish is dry and crisp with a little lingering malt flavor and hop bite. When I saw the term “hoppy stout” I was a little worried that TBD would be a black IPA with a different name, but Castle Island did a good job adding an extra dimension of hops without detracting from the flavor profile you associate with a stout. Very good beer to drink in the upcoming winter months. Hoppy Boston score: 4.25/5.

Previous Castle Island Reviews:

Castle Island FestbierCastle Island Keeper IPA