Velvet Glove & White Oak

Two brews I tasted in September.  Now that I have computer access again, here are the reviews.

Velvet Glove: Iron Fist Brewing Company, Vista, California.  9.0% ABV.  I drank this while tailgating at the USC football game on Saturday September 22, 2012.

Iron Fist Brewing is a relative newcomer to the San Diego craft brewing industry.  This beer, however, is not for the novice.  It pours black as night, with a dark tan head.  The aroma is of chocolate with just a hint of alcohol.

Velvet Glove has a well balanced chocolate and coffee flavor, not sweet, but not overly bitter either.  Hop flavor and aroma are almost non-existent.  The dark bitter grains provide the bitterness, but they are not overwhelming.  In fact, for a 9% stout, the flavor is not as strong as I had expected and I was a little disappointed (my observations upon drinking it ice cold).  The beer was good, but not great.

After letting it warm up (as you should with any imperial stout – drink at about 50° – 55° F), the flavors really jumped out, and my impression of the beer changed greatly.  There was much more flavor and aroma.  The flavor profile didn’t change, it just intensified – more coffee/chocolate flavor, with a nice warming alcohol note.  The body is thick and smooth.

I recommend this to any stout drinker (especially an Imperial Russian Stout drinker).  It’s 9% alcohol, but is smooth and easy to drink.  It is available in 750 ML bombers, and I drank the whole bottle in one sitting (hey, we were tailgating so excessive beer drinking is acceptable, and even encouraged).  The bottle was given to me by co-worker Jeff Toy – he purchased it at Iron Fist Brewing in Vista (Thanks, Jeff!!!).  I have seen this on the shelf at Total Wine, so it is available at stores where they have a good selection of craft brews.

Here is how the Velvet Glove label describes this beer: “You know the expression ‘A Velvet Glove and an Iron Fist’?  It was coined to refer to a regime that used a soft exterior to hide its punishingly unforgiving nature.  This seems an apt description for our Velvet Glove.  Its placid appearance and unparalleled smoothness hide the truth; this is one fiendishly unrelenting stout. . . .  Put the 500 pack of light lager back with its buddies and rule your taste with an IRON FIST!”

White Oak: The Bruery, Placentia, California.  11.5% ABV.  I tasted this on a hot Sunday afternoon, September 30, 2012.  I have reviewed other offerings from the world renowned Bruery on this blog site in the past, and this selection will not be much different – The Bruery makes great beer.

White Oak is 50% ale, and 50% ale aged in bourbon barrels.  It pours a clear blond color.  The clarity is somewhat surprising as this is an unfiltered bottled conditioned wheat ale.  It is highly carbonated, as one would expect with a Belgian style ale.  The head is extensive and white in color, with good staying power.  It took a while to fill my glass due to the high carbonation, and I had to wait several minutes for the foam to subside (so I could fill my glass) before I could taste it.

It was worth the wait.  White Oak is a great beer.  The pleasant bourbon aroma is front and center, but the signature Belgian aroma lurks in the background.  My initial taste impression was Belgian, but then the bourbon flavor kicked in.

White Oak is a blond color Belgian wheat ale (with the signature fruitiness/sweetness), but make no mistake about it, it is a bourbon barrel masterpiece.  The flavor is big and the alcohol content is big, so don’t chug-a-lug this beer.  I felt the alcohol right away.  At 11.5% it can put the hurt on you.  Drink it on an empty stomach?  Plan on having a buzz for awhile.

This selection is available in 750ML bottles from the Provisions store (The Bruery’s retail store in old town Orange) and costs $20 per bottle (see previous note – “don’t chug-a-lug this beer”).  I purchased the bottle in August, so I don’t know if it’s still available.  If it is available (never saw it at Total Wine; might be available only at the Provisions store) then buy yourself a bottle and treat yourself to a little bit of beer nirvana.  Although unusual, this is a GREAT beer (Sheila liked it also)  and I highly recommend it!! If you like bourbon aged beer, you will love this one.

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