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Beer Review #241 Kujo Imperial Coffee Stout

I’m not a fan of coffee as a hot drink but I do enjoy the occasional iced coffee from time to time. It should come as no surprise that I love coffee beers. Kujo Imperial Coffee Stout from Flying Dog Brewery is a new coffee beer to me and I believe it is my first imperial one. Imperial Stouts tend to be hit or miss in my eyes. Sometimes the heat over powers everything else going on and you also get those beers that are too “dark.” The roasted malt levels become so high that they don’t produce a favorable flavors. When you get an Imperial Stout right, it’s a very nice, magical moment.

Kujo pours a dark, thick, black with a thin tan head. One of my friends refers to beers that pour like this as “sludge from the tap.” This one came from a bottle but you get the idea. The nose has a rich coffee odor that is mixed with some chocolate notes. There is some caramel in there as well which helps add to the richness. I didn’t notice any heat on this one but it did remind me of what an iced coffee and a stout would smell like if mixed. Point Flying Dog.

There are some super roasty notes that appear right off the bat with this one that then go into a healthy dose of caramel. Some bittersweet chocolate mixes in there as well once the sweetness has a chance to fade away. A hint of heat makes an appearance but is quickly masked by coffee notes. The whole flavor progression is very nice and surprisingly smooth. I was worried that the roasted notes at the beginning of the beer would fall victim to the problems I previously talked about but the large amount of sweetness ensured that this did not happen. Coffee does a really nice job of cleaning out this beer as I didn’t get anything on the hop end of this one.

The bottle says a “stout with coffee added.” If it were my label, I would have just put Imperial Coffee Stout in every spot possible as this beer really screams it. It has a large creamy mouthfeel, much like other Imperial Stouts. When drinking this beer I put “rich and loud” at the end of my notes. This beer rocks in at 8.9% so it’s no slouch. With winter coming (insert Game of Thrones joke) I highly suggest this one. (more…)

Beer Review #158 Sam Adams Chocolate Bock

The second beer that I had from the Sam Adams Variety pack this year was their Chocolate Bock. I had this beer when it came in a nice 750 ml bottle and had a metal logo glued to it. I remember liking it, but it has been a long time since I had it, and the review of the old Chocolate Bock never made it onto the site. So what better time to review Boston Beer Company’s “new” beer.

Chocolate Bock pours a nice dark brown color, not back, and has a tan head. The head was a few shades darker than the Holiday Porter’s head. The nose was fun of dark chocolate notes (shocker). I found it a bit ashy as well. After a few whiffs I decided that it smelled like Coco Puffs. A little weird, yes, but who doesn’t like Coco Puffs?

Sam describes this beers as an “ale with cocoa and natural flavors.” I have no idea what natural flavors they are talking about but this beer comes out with lots of nice chocolate tones. What I really liked was that there were many layers to the chocolate. There were periods where it seemed like a milk chocolate and others when it went to the more bitter end of the chocolate arena. I found it to taste a bit like a hoppy, cold hot chocolate. Another thing to note with this beer is how smooth it is. The chocolate flows in and flows out while hitting a number of different chocolate chords.

I don’t remember the chocolate offering so much to this beer before but I quite enjoyed it. Everything was very smooth and balanced. The flavors are bold, but they don’t scream at you. Another solid beer from Sam Adams that I would consider approachable to seasoned beer freaks and new comers. (more…)

Beer Review #157 Sam Adams Holiday Porter

Another day, another beer from Boston Beer Company. I recently purchased Sam Adam’s Winter Seasonal pack and in addition to the normal Boston Lager and Winter Lager they had a few other fun seasonal beers. I reviewed their Old Fezziweg early last year, but I haven’t had a chance to partake in their other winter beers. I will spend the remainder of the week taking a look at the other three beers in the variety pack.

Today’s beer is Boston Beer’s Holiday Porter. A porter is a perfect beer for this time of year. They generally are not heavy, but provide some solid malt and roasty character that can warm you up on a cold night. The beer pours a deep ruby color and has a light tan head. The nose is packed with smell. I found lots of caramel and toffee, which was then followed by some coffee notes. There are some slight noble hops in there as well. Finally I found some slight chocolate notes that were really nice.

Just as the nose promised, this beer is complex and deep. There is a lot of rich caramel with some solid chocolate. There is a nice interaction between the hops and malt where the malt leads in, is cut a bit by the hops, but still is a big player. As soon as you think that this beer isn’t going to have a hop kick to balance it out, the dry finish comes in and takes care of any sweetness.

I really liked this one. I am generally not super impressed with porters, but I enjoyed this one greatly. I would love to have this on a blustery November night while sitting with a good book. For such a complex beer, this one also comes off as being simple. It really opens up on each sip. (more…)

Beer Review #54 Terrible

As I have said before I am a sucker for a good name and/or a good looking beer bottle. In this case, Terrible had both. When I saw this beer sitting on the shelf at the local beer store, I knew I had to get it. I mean how can you pass up a beer with the audacity to have the name Terrible. And the bottle wasn’t too shabby either; simple, clean, and attractive.It is also brewed by Unibroue Quebec, Canada.

On pouring the beer it comes out a nice dark brown. There is a tan, almost redish head, that quickly faded back into the beer. I was somewhat surprised that it went away so quickly as most Belgian beers have ample amounts of head. Maybe it was just the 10.5% ABV that thinned it so quickly. On the nose I fist noticed how sour it smelled. I believe that it came from the dark chocolate notes that I later tasted, but I was a bit surprised to smell them in there. Other aromas came out of some nice malty sweetness and the ever present Belgian yeast strain.

The taste was complex and pleasant. The sourness was there and so was the malt, but there is also a lot more to be found. Those chocolate notes that I talked about before are sure in there, but not over powering. Heat is there to be sure, but at 10.5% that should be expected. Terrible had a few peppery notes as well and judging by previous Unibroue ales that I have had, it is part of their signature yeast strain. I also got some almost bourbon notes in there as well that I didn’t expect, but rather enjoyed.

The mouthfeel is medium and lighter than what I would of expected for such a big beer. I really enjoyed it. I’ve had better Belgian Strong Ales, as this is what Terrible is classified as, but I was solid. From what I have read this beer is a limited or special release, so it might be tough to find, but if I can get it in Lubbock, Texas than I would imagine it can’t be to terrible to find. The biggest downside to this beer is that it comes in a 750 ml bottle, which at 10.5%, one bottle is more than enough. I sure enjoyed it and I think you will too if you get the chance. (more…)

Winter Warmer Recipe

11-20-01In my last homebrew post I talked about doing a Colonial American style beer. Well I am still working on that, but I have a lot more reading to do so that I can make it accurately. In the meantime, I thought that I would embrace the coming season change and got with a winter warmer. I’ve always been a fan of winter seasonal beers, but I have never made one of my own. My wife has also been asking me to make something dark and malty. A winter warmer fits perfectly into that style.

Let me begin with the fact that I have only had a handful of beers classified as “winter warmer” before in my life. I think my favorite belongs to Lancaster Brewing Company, which I enjoyed plenty of last year back in PA. The things I like about it are the facts that it has a huge body, a lot of different flavor notes (some fruit, chocolate, brown sugar, molasses, and caramel), and it all comes in being very well balanced. Furthermore, for an 8.9% abv beer there isn’t much, if any, alcohol noticeable and there is not a lot of hop bite on the back. The malt and complexity in it are what shine in this beer.

So I began doing some research trying to find a starting point with this beer. And after all was said and done, I came up with a recipe that I think is unique and should deliver a great amount of complexity.

  • 8.0 lbs American 2-Row
  • 2.0 lbs Maris Otter Pale Malt
  • 1.0 lbs Caramel Malt 90L
  • 1.0 lbs Chocolate Malt
  • 0.5 lbs Chocolate Wheat Malt
  • 0.5 lbs Chocolate Rye Malt
  • 0.5 lbs American Black Patent
  • 1.0 lbs Molasses
  • 1 oz Fuggle hops (3.6% AA for 60 mins)
  • 1 oz Fuggle hops (3.6% AA for 15 mins)
  • Nottingham Dry Ale yeast, with starter

I’m planning on mashing this at about 150 degrees for an hour. Doing so should give a nice balance between malt character and easy fermenting sugar. The 1 lb of molasses will be added into the kettle during the first runnings. I put a lot of dark malts into this beer becasue I want something with some coffee, molasses, and chocolate notes.

The chocolate wheat and rye were a last minute decision and the original recipe had one pound of wheat malt. I’ve never used chocolate wheat/rye malt and this is my first experience with rye malt overall, so I’m not entirely sure what impacts they will have. From my¬† understanding, rye malt tends to dry a beer out and give a crisper feel to it. Even at that, it makes up about 4% of then total grain bill, so it should not have a large effect weather it be positive or negative.

I also went with a dry ale yeast here for a few reasons. First, I used it on the pumpkin ale with good results. Second, the dry ale yeast is easy to make a starter with and with the fluctuation in temperatures here in Texas during this time of year (40 degrees between day and night) I didn’t want any active yeast to suffer. Third is that the optimal temperature range for this yeast is 57-70 degrees which falls perfectly into my apartment’s temperatures. Fourth, it is highly flocculant (precipitating) and highly attenuating. And lastly, it has a lost ester profile, so the malt should be able to shine through even more when it is not competing with the hops or yeast esters.

The final stats on the beer look like this:

  • OG 1.075
  • 39 SRM
  • 7.5% ABV
  • 20.0 IBUs

I plan of fermenting for a week (or until fermention is complete) and than putting it into a secondary for 2-3 weeks. After that I will bottle it and leave it condition for another 2-3 weeks (hopefully there will be no carbonation problems this time around). Then I can finally enjoy the fruits of my labor.