Sculpin IPA & Mint Chocolate Imperial Stout

Mac’s Brew Pub is still on hiatus while the home remodel is being completed.  While I’m running out of Mac’s brew, the local Total Wine store is still well stocked with good beer.  I’ve been trying a lot of different brews and taking note of my observations. Hopefully these reviews give you some ideas and convince you to try something different.

Sculpin IPA: Ballast Point Brewing Company, San Diego, CA.  7.0% ABV, 70 IBU.  I bought a six pack ($13.99) and tasted this beer (although not for the first time) on October 25, 2012.  It pours a clear golden yellow, with a very limited white head that rapidly faded (typical for an IPA).  It has a nice hoppy, citrus but sweet aroma.

This is a light bodied beer with a dry, bitter citrus and piney flavor.  This is all about the hops as the malt definitely takes a back seat.  However, this is not over the top like Pliny the Elder or Ruination.  This is a real nice thirst quencher and I recommend serving it ice cold.  I did notice, however, that the malt character comes forth as the ale warms.

The Ballast Point web site offers the following description: The Sculpin fish has poisonous spikes that can give a nasty sting.  The meat is considered very tasty, and just like the beer, “something that has a sting but tastes great.”

Sculpin IPA won a gold medal at the 2012 World Beer Cup.  I recommend this beer to any IPA drinker, but it’s not the best IPA (that distinction, in my opinion goes to Knuckle Sandwich, by Bootleggers Brewery in Fullerton), and I still prefer Stone IPA as an everyday IPA (more citrus, less pine flavor).

Mint Chocolate Imperial Stout: Stone Brewing, Escondido CA.  9.6% ABV.  This is a Stone collaboration ale, conceived and brewed in conjunction with Iron Fist Brewing and Ken Schmidt’s Aloha Plenty Brewing Company.  It was brewed with cocoa and mint (hmm, maybe that’s why it’s called Mint Chocolate).  I sampled the beer from a 12 oz bottle on October 28, 2012, purchased from Total Wine for $2.99.

This beer is pitch black with a thick, dark tan head.  The aroma is (surprise!) chocolate mint – think of the mints left on the pillow in your hotel room (you don’t get those on your pillow at the No-Tell Motel, but if that’s where you stay, you probably won’t be drinking this beer or any other craft brew, so never mind).

The main flavor is chocolate.  The mint is very subdued, but it comes through in the after taste.  No hop bitterness is noted, but it is not at all sweet like most imperial stouts.  The bitterness I noted seems to be from the cocoa and/or the dark grains.  As it warms in the glass, the mint aroma significantly increases, as does the flavor late on the palate and in the after taste.

Mint Chocolate Imperial Stout is 9.6% ABV, but I noted no hint of alcohol in the taste.  Chocolate is the main flavor until it warms , then the mint comes through.  As previously stated, this is not your typical imperial stout.

This beer has lots of body with a thick, viscous mouth feel.  It’s not thirst quenching, but is very flavorful.  It’s a nice dessert  beer, and I would suggest drinking it with a piece of chocolate cake or with some chocolate candy.    Mint Chocolate Imperial Stout is a very unusual beer, but quite good.  I highly recommend it (better look for it soon if you’re interested; it’s getting hard to find as it was released/distributed a few months ago).

Thanksgiving day is upon us and once again it’s time to reflect on all of our blessings. Thank you Lord, and please bless the United States of America.

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