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Beer Review #325 Milk Stout Nitro

Left Hand Brewing Company has been having fun putting their excellent stouts in bottles with nitrogen carbonation. My last example was reviewed here. I’ve seen very few breweries going the nitro route as it can be difficult and expensive. In most cases, nitrogen carbonated beers are done in a can with a widget, but not Left Hand.

Their normal Milk Stout is one of my favorites. It strikes all of the right balances and really shines as a example of the style. When I saw the nitro version of their Milk Stout, I bought a case, a rarity for me. The beer pours a smooth black. There is very little head what the resulting head is tan in color. The nose is sweet but chocolatly. The major chocolate note that I get is dark chocolate with some hints of milk chocolate. I didn’t get a lot of roast and there was no hop aroma to speak of.

04-21-02On the first taste I was overwhelmed with how smooth this beer drinks. From start to finish this is a complete beer. A nice caramel and milk chocolate sweetness starts off the beer and then flows into a chocolate and roast explosion. The roast isn’t overly bitter, but it’s there and helps balance the beer. The chocolate is also bitter, the way dark chocolate is, and provides some great flavor. I love the progression of flavor in this beer. It leaves on a slightly sweet note with bits of dark chocolate bitterness hanging on. It’s a complete drink, plain and simple.

I love Left Hand’s regular version of this beer, but the nitro version kicks it up a notice. It has great flavor, balance, and drinkability. For a stout, it’s not overly thick or filling. It sits right in the sweet-spot of beers for me. I highly, highly suggest this beer.



Beer Review #321 Wake Up Dead Nitro

03-25-02Left Hand Brewing Company has just started to be carried again at my local beer store so I have been trying a whole bunch of their stuff recently. I love their Milk Stout and their Nitro Milk Stout. I saw Wake Up Dead Nitro the other day and I grabbed it quickly. It’s a Russian Imperial Stout that comes in at 10.2% ABV.

Wake Up Dead Nitro pours a jet black color and comes with a thin tan head. The bubbles are super small thanks to the nitrogen carbonation. The nose is pretty blank. I really struggled to get anything from this one. Generally you expect some chocolates and roast and maybe even some hops, but I didn’t even get a hint of caramel off of this one. Weird.

On the first taste I was blown away by the malt flavor. There are lots of dark chocolates and roast going on. Some heat comes into the mix as the drink moves to the halfway portion. I also got some raisins and cherries which added a nice layer of complexity. There are some dark fruits that mix in at the end along with the return of the dark chocolate and the bitterness that it brings.

I very much liked this beer. It has a nice, complex malt and is everything that an Imperial Russian Stout should be. I wish it had a bit more on the nose, but I don’t know if that’s do to the nitro carbonation. If you are looking for a solid stout that has some ( a lot) of strength, this one is for you. (more…)

Beer Review #287 H.E.R.O 2012 Chocolate Chipotle Stout

04-22-01My wife actually picked today’s beer out and we ended up splitting the 22 oz bomber that it came it. H.E.R.O is brewed by DuClaw Brewing Company and this beer is brewed for charity. The H.E.R.O (really annoying to type that out) stands for Honest, Excellent, Robust, and Original. The proceeds of this beer may go to charity, but the creation of it is thanks to a homebrew contest that DuClaw holds. This beer comes in at a respectable 7.5% and, as you can see by the name, it has some stuff going on.

H.E.R.O 2012 Chocolate Chipotle Stout pours a nice deep black with a tan head. The nose first hits you with good bits of chocolate and a bit of sweetness. I didn’t get any chipotle component when smelling this beer nor did I get any hops.

On the first taste you really get wowed by the chocolate and caramel combination. The two flavors just play nicely together and create a rich, fulfilling sip. A slight roast creeps in at the end to remind you that this is a dark beer. The chipotle flavor comes in at the end. It’s hard to notice at first but as you drink the beer sip by sip, the chipotle flavor increases nicely.

This is a pretty nice beer. It’s something different and balanced. I’ve had chocolate and spice beers before but I’ve never had one that has this much restraint in the spice. Some might not like it for that reason but I find it enjoyable. The spice isn’t a star, it adds complexity and interest. This is a nice beer and a great cause, or as some call it a win-win.

Beer Review #268 Red Thunder

02-04-02 I have yet another barrel aged beer for review today. I only noticed today how many barrel aged beers that I have had in the past month or so. I still have a few more to review, but I’ll hold them off for some time. Today’s beer comes from my original favorite craft brewery, Victory Brewing Company. If for some reason all craft breweries were going to close and I could save one of them, it would be Victory. I’ve had one of their barrel aged beers before (and I have another in the fridge) but this is the first of their beers to be aged on red wine barrels.

Red Thunder is the same base beer as their Baltic Thunder, but aged in wine barrels. It comes in at 8.5%. Red Thunder pours a flat redish brown color. It has a thin off-white head that fades to just a layer on the top. The nose has a wine, tart smell. It was a “big beer” character to the smell. It isn’t overly malty in aroma and there isn’t any heat, but you can get the sense that this is a big beer.

On the first taste I got a slight sourness. I believe that the tart flavor is thanks to the wine barrel aging. As the tartness quickly faded away I was greeted by my old friend, Baltic Thunder. Red Thunder has a lot of porter qualities to it. The malty flavor gives way to some really nice roasty, chocolatey notes. The wine barrel aging really complimented this beer and added a nice twist.

I like this one and it makes me want to experiment with wine barrel aging on my own homebrews. There is a very nice mix of wine flavor and baltic porter. It’s not my favorite barrel aged beer in the world, but it does give me a few ideas for the future. Special thanks to my buddy Mike for sharing this one with me. (more…)

Beer Review #249 Heart of Darkness

The good folks at Magic Hat Brewing Company just sent me a sampler of their Winter Variety pack. Before I get the reviews up I do want to mention that this is my favorite sampler set that they have sent me. Each beer is solid and worth getting. This isn’t me blowing smoke either, I really enjoyed this winter sampling and I’ll probably go out and pick up a case for my holiday parties.

When I saw the Heart of Darkness on the the label I immediately thought of an episode of The Wonder Years when Kevin, Paul, and a troubled friend go out on an illegal camping trip (they lied to their parents). Kevin smokes cigarettes, Paul gets drunk, and they both realize that those activities are not right for their lives. This Heart of Darkness is a bit different, but oddly enough, beer is part of both entities. This stout pours a dark black color has has a thin white head that fades away quickly. The nose is packed with chocolate and roasted flavors. I got a bit of coffee in there as well. There is a slight mention of hops in the background but the other odors really wash it out.

As far as stouts go, you generally have the roasty ones that kill you or the roasty ones that are more subtle. This beer goes more towards the killing range, but in a really nice way. The roasted dark malts and chocolate are really strong at the beginning, but unlike a lot of stouts with similar characteristics, this one get balanced with some nice caramels that come in halfway through the taste and wash away to roast.

I wouldn’t call this stout creamy, but the mouthfeel is full and pleasant. This beer is really nice and roasty but the balance is really, really nice. I’m surprised that this one only came in at 5.7%. Generally the strong chocolates and roasted malts in a beer like this mean that it comes with a with a higher ABV. The last line of my notes say “two thumbs up,” and I think that says everything you need to say about getting this beer. (more…)