Big Thanks To Insurance Companies

Dark Horse Fore Smoked Stout

February 28th, 2009 beckel

So the time has come for our fourth installment of the Dark Horse Brewing Holiday Stout Series. This time around we have Fore a Smoked Stout that is sure to entice our taste buds. After pouring this bottle there was a good layer of sediment stuck to the bottom of the bottle which is somewhat odd, we’ll have to see what the other bottles are like. This ale pours a solid jet black that couldn’t be penetrated with light if you wanted it to. Producing less than a finger of beautiful chocolate brown head most of which dissipates within a minute or two with only a thin ring remaining around the glass. Aroma is quite smokey but not too overwhelming and is complimented by other nice roasted malt scents and a bit of grain that reminds me of oats. Wow this is a rich roasted Ale. Tastes mostly of roasted malts that create a number of coffee and smoked flavors as well as a few sweeter toffee like flavors once your palate gets used to the intense roast flavors in this ale. The body is a solid medium and the mouthfeel is quite silky and rich but it still goes down pretty easily provided you can get used to the roasted flavors. RB suggests that this beer is 8% ABV and I would be inclined to concur though you certainly can’t pick up any alcoholic flavor with the intense malt profile of this brew. More roasted than I would typically prefer but this is a darn tasty brew that I am happy to have 3 more of in my fridge. Would compliment any grilled meal, particularly red meat wonderfully. Give it a shot and ride your bike.

Dark Horse Fore Smoked Stout

Dark Horse Tres Blueberry Stout

February 25th, 2009 beckel

Today I have a beer in my hand I have been anticipating for some time. As the third installment of Dark Horse Brewing’s Holiday Stout Series Tres offers us some blueberry to add to our stout. On Monday I made my way out to The Four Firkins to grab some goodies they had just gotten in, namely Winter Warlock, Hop Stoopid and Fore (Tres had been in stock for a bit but luckily there was still a few four packs hanging around) but as always I found a few more goodies that I couldn’t help but get; Southern Tier’s Back Burner Barleywine and a four pack of Young’s Double Chocolate Stout because I still haven’t given it a try. I happily loaded my bag full of brew and merrily biked my way home with little concern even though I felt a can depressing slightly as it bumped against my back. Taking Minnetonka Blvd home brought me to a Chipotle and I figured it would be a decent dinner as I didn’t feel like preparing anything and haven’t consumed their food in some time. After waiting in line for a few minutes and watching my bike carefully I exited with fajita in hand and set my bag near my bike to secure my grub. Sadly upon opening my bag I noticed a large amount of liquid on the cardboard of the four packs and the faint smell of chocolate. Luckily upon investigation the only victim was one can of Young’s which I duly opened and finished the last few sips of before throwing away. I don’t think I’ve ever had a can explode in my bag before, perhaps the nitrogen widget contributed to its demise. Oh well at least all of the bottles survived and I didn’t have to pull my hands out of my bag covered in blood like I did the time a growler broke. Short of the can of Young’s the only other victims were the labels of the Tres and Fore who’s carrying packs soaked up the good stuff like a sponge, they’re still intact you just might notice some stout abuse in the pictures. But I digress because I have a lovely blueberry aroma calling to me. This ale pours with about two fingers of rather dark milk chocolate head giving this pitch black beer a lovely appearance. Aroma is just what I expected, a wonderful slightly sweet blueberry scent that transitions into rich dark malt creating a nice roasted smell with a bit of coffee as well. Flavor is very interesting. Blueberry comes out immediately but is rather subtle and a nice compliment to the dark roasted malt flavors of this brew, particularly the chocolate flavors. There is a good amount of roasted malt flavor but it is likely not roasted for too long as it has a much smoother mouthfeel and taste than most Stouts reminding me of a Milk Stout. The body is light for a stout and with a 4.5% ABV this is an incredibly drinkable beer. I would even give it the  session beer distinction if only it were a bit lighter in body and mouthfeel, but I’m not quite sure how one would do that with a Stout and not make it seem like drinking dirty water. The more I drink this beer the more I enjoy the additional flavors the blueberry creates (and the more I wonder if it really is only 4.5%). Probably not a beer I would buy too much of in the future (largely because I am too much in love with their Scotty Karate [review]) but a damn tasty beer I would gladly consume if it were offered and am very pleased to have had the opportunity to sample and a wonderful example of how additional components can enhance a brew. Anyone who likes stouts and does not mind the addition of some real fruit will likely enjoy this brew as will those who may be hesitant to approach dark beers but enjoy chocolate and blueberries. Would work wonderfully as a lighter desert beer or a compliment to a nice creamy dish or fresh fruits and veggies wonderfully. Give it a shot and ride your bike.

Dark Horse Tres Blueberry Stout

Flat Earth Black Helicopter Coffee Stout

February 5th, 2009 beckel

Here we have an ale that I have been slacking on reviewing for far too long, bottle 32 of 580. From our very own Flat Earth Brewing out of St. Paul, Minnesota. Black Helicopter Coffee Stout is brewed with “the finest roasted coffee on the planet” which just happens to come from a local Minneapolis Dunn Brothers. My first exposure to Flat Earth was at their first tasting event at The Four Firkins where they were serving a keg (or was it a firkin) of their new Element 115 Lager. Hearing the title I expected myself to be disappointed as I don’t really care for light beers but I couldn’t pass up a local guy, not to mention free beer so I gave it a shot. As soon as I saw the ale poured I became more pleased, the lovely amber color was not expected at all, and then the taste, absolutely wonderful, from what I remember a bit hoppy with some nice malty sweetness reminding me more of a good amber ale than a lager. Simply put it was a great first impression, but onto the beer at hand. I couldn’t help but to pour this brew into my Surly coffee mug and even in a small glass this wonderfully dark black ale produces a solid three fingers of chocolate brown frothy head that dissipates after a few minutes. Aroma is of rich dark malts and then the coffee takes over, completely. I really can’t smell anything except fermented coffee and the taste confirms it too, this is a coffee beer. Holy shit. There are definitely some decent malt flavors present in this ale but they are quite hard to identify because of the intense roasted coffee flavor present. Body is medium and I feel the mouthfeel is a bit thick, though I largely think that is because I don’t drink coffee. With a 5.2% ABV this would be a perfect beer to wake up with and not get too ahead of yourself. Personally the coffee is too much for me, but if you like a stout that tastes like coffee, this is the perfect beer for you. Give it a shot and ride your bike.

Flat Earth Black Helicopter Coffee Stout