Southern Charred, 18th Anniversary IPA, Evil Dead Red & Barrel Aged Voo Doo

I did not intend to go this long without a post (2 months), but time got away from me while I was having a busy summer.  I hope to resume brewing again in another couple of weeks.  I already have the ingredients for Mac the Annihilator (I’m changing the recipe again, ever so slightly), then I plan to brew an ale similar to an Oktoberfest.  I know it’s a bit late to brew an Oktoberfest now, but it will ready by Thanksgiving.

Here are 4 beer reviews for your reading pleasure.  Please read responsibly!

Southern Charred (2013 Series): Stone Brewing, Escondido CA.  12.6% ABV

This is an unusual beer.  I don’t know if it will be an annual release, but the bottle I drank was labeled “2013 Series”.  I purchased it in November 2013 and forgot about it in my refrigerator until last month.  2013 Southern Charred is Double Bastard Ale brewed in 2012 and aged in Bourbon barrels.  I like Stone’s Double Bastard Ale, but a little goes a long way because it is such a BIG malty and hoppy beer with a relatively high alcohol content (ABV varies from year to year, but it’s usually between 10.5 – 11.5%).  You may have guessed from reading my posts (both Newsletter and Beer Review categories) that I really like bourbon barrel aged beers.  This one is a very good example of the style.

Southern Charred pours a dark, somewhat hazy amber.  The light beige head is not long-lasting.  The aroma is quite sweet, the bourbon giving it strong notes of coconut and vanilla.  This beer has 95 IBU’s, but you would never know it as the flavor is malty sweet, but not overly so as the high hopping rate balances it out.  The bourbon flavor is in your face, but it’s not boozy or hot from the high alcohol content.  Carbonation is low and it has a velvety smooth mouthfeel.

There is no mistaking that this is Double Bastard Ale – the bitterness of the 95 IBU’s is the first impression.  But then, the coconut/vanilla from the oak barrels and bourbon takes over.  It has a sweet finish, and I think it’s more drinkable than Double Bastard.

Although it’s not boozy, it packs a wallop.  I drank it on an empty stomach and had a good buzz going half way through my first pint – I was drinking it slowly.  This beer is excellent!!  It’s not just another bourbon barrel aged beer.  Well done, Stone!

I bought one bottle (500ml) at Total Wine for $17.99 (I believe).  Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s widely available any longer.

18th Anniversary IPA: Stone Brewing, Escondido, CA.  8.5% ABV.

Every summer Stone releases their anniversary ale, and it’s different each year.  This year’s version is billed (on the label) as, “THE HOPPIEST GOLDEN-BROWN ALE ON EARTH.”  So what about it?

It pours a clear, beautiful, medium copper color with a cream-colored head (with nice retention).  There is a nice hoppy, citrus (lemon) aroma – no doubt it’s an IPA.  The flavor is piney, lemon citrus that fades to a nice tropical fruit sweetness.  This is a full-bodied IPA (not dry) with nice carbonation.  Hints of coffee and cocoa come through just a little in the aftertaste.

Overall, it’s a good beer, but a slightly unusual IPA.  Leave it to Stone Brewing to come up  with something like this – a brown IPA.  Yes, I recommend it, but it’s not my favorite IPA.   It’s not  Stone’s finest IPA or Anniversary Ale either, but it’s better than their 16th Anniversary Ale (2 years ago).  It’s good beer, and I have a couple in my refrigerator for enjoyment in the next few weeks.

Evil Dead Red: Ale Smith Brewing Company, San Diego, CA.  6.66 % ABV.

What can I say?  This is Ale Smith’s Halloween beer.  So, they don’t release a pumpkin ale like everyone else; instead, they release a (blood) red IPA.  How clever of them!

This is a deep amber (or should I say red – but not really like blood) beer with a creamy beige head that has lots of staying power.  The aroma is malty and hoppy, with a slight emphasis on the hops.  The flavor is all about the hops, but there’s more to it than that.

I think this beer has a big malt bill, with lots of crystal malt.  At first there is a great caramel sweetness (crystal malts), but then the hops take over for a piney and citrusy whack in the mouth.  The malt lingers in the aftertaste, and the caramel really comes through as it warms.

Evil Dead Red is well-balanced, but there’s no doubt it’s an IPA.  It has medium body.  I would best describe this as reminiscent of Arrogant Bastard Ale (Stone Brewing), and I think it might be the same as “My Bloody Valentine” by Ale Smith (available at the first of the year, before Valentine’s Day).  It’s available in 22 oz bombers.  I bought it at Costco ($4.49), and will buy it again.

Barrel Aged Voo Doo: Left Coast Brewing Company, San Clemente, CA  10.0% ABV.

I’ve had Voo Doo Stout from Left Coast in the past.  It’s a nice American style stout, well balanced.  I saw Barrel Aged Voo Doo the other day at Total Wine and decided to give it a try.  As I previously mentioned, I’m a sucker for bourbon barrel aged beers.

This one is pitch black with a sparse light tan head.  The foam rapidly fades to a tan ring around the edge of the glass.  The aroma is sweet chocolate with some vanilla hints.  There is very little bourbon in the nose.

The flavor is quintessential stout, but not overly strong.  The chocolate predominates with a slight coffee taste.  I note some bitterness on the tongue from the carbonation.  The chocolate and bitterness fade to a sweet vanilla and just a touch of coconut from the bourbon.

Voo Doo has medium body – I expected more viscosity from a stout with 10% alcohol, but this is not a heavy imperial stout.  I also expected more of the mellow oak and bourbon flavor.  Let this one warm up in order to catch the true character and flavor of this beer.  All of the flavors intensify, but especially the chocolate.  I was surprised, however, that the bourbon flavor did not increase with the beer temperature.  Although it was not boozy or hot, the alcohol did become somewhat apparent as the beer warmed to the mid 60’s.

As the name implies, this is Voo Doo stout aged in bourbon and rye whiskey barrels.  However, the flavors imparted from the oak and the bourbon are very subdued, especially when it is refrigerator temperature.

I sampled this beer from a 22 oz bomber.  I purchased it at Total Wine for $14.99.  This is good beer, a nice chocolaty stout with a high alcohol content that is well hidden.  However, in my opinion the price tag is a little steep for what you get.  The oak and the bourbon should be very apparent and instead they are too far in the background.  Save your money and buy regular Voo Doo.  If you like bourbon barrel aged stouts and don’t mind the price, spend a couple of extra dollars and buy Parabola (Firestone Walker) or Smoking Wood (The Bruery).  I will probably drink regular Voo Doo again in the future, but will not be buying Barrel Aged Voo Doo because of the price.  Again, it’s good beer but disappointing.

I recommend  three of these four beers, but I think only two of them are available (18th Anniversary and Evil Dead Red).  Southern Charred is wonderful, but is probably only available during limited release at the Stone brewery in Escondido (note: I found it available at “Grillin & Chillin Alehouse in Hollister for $39 per bottle; I’m gonna pass on that one).  Barrel Aged Voo Doo is widely available right now; although it’s good (not great) beer, it is over-priced, thus not recommended.  Cheers!

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