Black Butte XXVIII, Poterie, and Collaboration No. 6

Well, beer lovers, it’s time once again for my much anticipated beer reviews. Today I bring you the low down on three big beers that I recently consumed. All are special release or limited release; I am trying to get these reviews to you in a timely manner so you can still find them if you’re interested. Please read responsibly.

Black Butte XXVIII: (2016) Deschutes Brewing Co., Bend, OR. 11.6% ABV
A few weeks ago I posted a review of Black Butte XXVII and teased you with a mention of Black Butte XXVIII. Well, I found my notes, so here is the review of the 2016 iteration of Deschutes’ anniversary ale.

XXVIII is brewed with cocoa, vanilla, peated malt and sweet orange peel. 50% is aged in Bourbon and Scotch Whiskey barrels. It pours black with a light tan ½” head that fades immediately to a thin ring. The aroma is sweet – raisin, vanilla and cherry. The first flavor impression is semi-sweet chocolate, with some alcohol, dark fruit, tobacco and vanilla. Chocolate and toffee linger in the aftertaste.

As it warms, it becomes sweeter. The chocolate persists, but is not as bitter. The chocolate/toffee aftertaste remains, but is somewhat sweeter. XXVIII has a very thick body and velvety smooth mouth feel. The carbonation level, although not high, is enough to impart some bitterness and palate cleansing. The alcohol content is relatively high, but is only slightly noticeable in the taste.

Although XXVIII is a Bourbon/Scotch Whiskey barrel aged beer, the barrel notes are not really noticeable in the flavor. They are only slightly detected in the aroma.

Overall, Black Butte XXVIII is excellent. I sampled this beer from a 22 oz. bomber (bottled 06-13-2016). I’m not sure about the availability any longer – I purchased it several months ago and drank it in January (2017).

Poterie: The Bruery, Placentia, CA. 16.8% ABV.
This is the eighth anniversary beer from The Bruery in Placentia. All of their anniversary beers have been big – very complex flavors and high in alcohol. This one is no exception. It’s an English style strong ale aged in Bourbon barrels.

Poterie pours a cloudy brown with a light beige ¾” head that fades after about 2 minutes to a substantial ring around the perimeter of a “Bruery” tulip glass. The aroma is sweet, vanilla, bourbon and alcohol. The flavor is sweet chocolate with some grainy bitterness, tart, and tobacco, with no alcohol noted. The aftertaste is chocolaty bitterness, vanilla, toffee and cherries. The bourbon barrel notes are very subdued.

As Poterie warms, the alcohol becomes noticeable, and the flavor grows a little sweeter. The aromas of vanilla, bourbon and alcohol also intensify. At room temperature, the flavor is alcohol, vanilla, and bourbon, and then fades to chocolate, mocha and grainy bitterness.

This beer is highly carbonated, which is a good thing. Otherwise, it could be too syrupy (thick and sweet) on the tongue. Poterie is available still, in 750 ml bottles. With almost 17% alcohol, that’s too much for one person at one sitting. I recommend this beer, but if you are going to get one, plan on sharing it.

Collaboration No. 6: Boulevard Brewing (Kansas City, MO) and Firestone Walker Brewing (Paso Robles, CA). 12.5% ABV.
This is a somewhat unique collaboration between two breweries. Normally with a collaboration brew, the two brewmasters get together at one of the breweries and they brew a collaboration recipe. In this case, however, the two brewmasters got together, each providing samples of two of their finished products, and then blended them in graduated cylinders until they arrived at “the perfect balance of two barrel aged beers from each brewery.” So, this is a mixture of Boulevard’s Bourbon Barrel Quad (45%), Imperial Stout X – Tart Cherry (10%) and Firestone’s Stickee Monkey (35%) and Velvet Merkin (10%).

Enough background though; lets get to the point. No. 6 pours opaque dark brown with a 1” tan head that persists. The aroma is tart cherry and chocolate with some Belgian spiciness. The flavor is chocolate and tart cherry, which fades to vanilla (from the barrel aging) with a lingering bitterness.

As it warms, the aroma becomes a bit sweeter and the flavor becomes more chocolate. The cherry seems to become sweeter, less tart. At room temperature, it’s all about the chocolate. The alcohol is noticeable in the aroma, but not in the flavor. The aftertaste is a lingering sweetness and cherry (not tart). No. 6 has a high carbonation level with medium body and mouth feel.  This beer is very good! I drank this from a 750 ml bottle over the course of an afternoon, for a very pleasant experience. I think this is still available in limited quantities, and I highly recommend it.

Well, folks, that’s it for now. I recommend all three of these beers, so open your wallets and buy them (if you can still find them). Caveat: fizzy yellow beer drinkers (and/or cheapskates) – don’t bother, you won’t like them.  I will likely be posting a new Vendome Beer Panel review at the end of the week, so check back around March 31, 2017 for additional tips and discount opportunities.

Sláinte!

Tart Cherry Stout & Fyodor’s Classic

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Happy New Year to one and all from Mac’s Brew Pub.  I’m looking forward to a 2016 filled with good beer and brewing.  I’ve been drinking a lot of big dark beers for the last couple of months.  Here are my thoughts on a couple of Imperial Stouts I recently tasted.  Please read responsibly.

Tart Cherry Stout (Smokestack Series): Boulevard Brewing Co., Kansas City, MO.  11% ABV.
Tart Cherry Stout is a Special Release Ale in the Smokestack Series of beers from Boulevard Brewing.  Their Smokestack series is a, “. . . special collection of bigger, bolder, more complex brews,” typically with a higher alcohol content than Boulevard’s core brands.  Tart Cherry Stout is an Imperial Stout fermented with tart cherries, and bottle conditioned.

They beer pours black as midnight with a huge dark tan head.  It is well carbonated (due to the bottle conditioning) and though the head subsided, it remained throughout the session, as did the effervescence.  It has much more carbonation than a typical Imperial Stout.

The aroma has a slight note of cherry, but it’s not tart.  The flavor features cherry and tartness along with chocolate notes.  The high carbonation thins out the texture/mouth feel.  Tartness lingers on the tongue, but it’s not overwhelming.  The aftertaste is also cherry, which rapidly fades to a tart and bitter sensation before the cherry returns and lingers.

Tart Cherry Stout is a nice cherry chocolate stout.  It’s 11% ABV, but there is absolutely no booziness.  However, the high carbonation level detracts from the Imperial Stout experience.  With a beer this big, I expect something thick and chewy with a little bit of alcohol bite.  The high carbonation thins out the body and cuts down on the residual sweetness expected from a big Imperial Stout.  You definitely need to let this one warm up to 60° F for drinking – it will cut down the carbonation and increase the body.  It also increases the cherry flavor, which is not necessary.

I purchased this beer at Costco for $10.99.  It comes in a corked 750 ML bottle that popped like a bottle of champagne when opened.

Fyodor’s Classic (2015 Series): Stone Brewing Co., Escondido, CA.  13% ABV.
This is another bourbon barrel aged offering from Stone Brewing in San Diego, but it’s not just another Stone beer.  It is the 2014 version of Stone’s Imperial Russian Stout aged for seven months in Kentucky Bourbon barrels.  I love Stone’s IRS, but this beer towers over the non-aged version.

Fyodor’s Classic is pitch black and creates a 1/2″ cocoa colored head when poured into a tulip glass.  The head fades rapidly to a thin ring along the perimeter, which left no lacing during the session.

The aroma is sweet vanilla, coconut, bourbon, chocolate and raisin.  the initial flavor sensation is sweet, with a CO2 bite on the tongue.  This swiftly transitions to a slightly sweet cocoa, then to coconut/vanilla (from the bourbon barrel), and finally to a very pleasant semi-sweet dark chocolate and coffee that lingers for quite awhile.

Fyodor’s Classic is well carbonated, but retains a thick, chewy mouthfeel and body, yet it’s not too sweet.  In spite of the high alcohol content (13%), there is no booziness noted, even as it warms.  However, the alcohol immediately starts warming the throat and belly, with warming to the rest of the body right behind..

Fyodor’s Classic is a world class beer.  The aftertaste is where this one really excels.  The taste magically transitions from one flavor to the next, but that transition is so slow and seamless there is no definitive point where one can say, “that’s exactly where it changed.”  This beer is unbelievably complex and wonderful.

I purchased this 500 ML corked bottle of Fyodor’s Classic several months ago at Total Wine for $18.99.  It is a limited edition, but because it’s expensive, it is still available.

I can recommend both of these beers.  Although Tart Cherry Stout is very good, I will not purchase another bottle.  It is definitely worth the price ($10.99 if you can still get it at Costco), but I prefer Imperial Stouts with a little more sweetness, viscosity and body.  Fyodor’s Classic, as previously mentioned, is a top notch beer.  It is worth the hefty price tag ($18.99 per bottle at Total Wine) and is sure to be a treat to any Imperial Stout connoisseur.  The usual caveat applies to both of these beers: fizzy yellow beer drinkers – don’t bother.

Slainte!