Sunday, October 14, 2007

Curled Up With A Good Beer or Stout Season Is Here

No offense to Chef Kevin, but if I'm going to drink a beer with Samuel in the name, it will be a Samuel Smith. That's not to say that Sam Adams hasn't ever put out a decent beer. So, bypassing my beloved Old Rasputin by North Coast Brewery, I opted for the classic Imperial Stout by Samuel Smith. My M.O. at Friar Tucks is to purchase a new and hopefully exciting beer, while also purchasing a familiar beer. The new beer during this trip was a Chocolate Stout by Fort Collin's Brewery.

Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout - Samuel Smith's Old Brewery (Tadcaster) N. Yorks, England
Russian Imperial Stout - 355ml bottle, 7.0% ABV

Appearance: Completely black with a deep tan colored head. The head dissipated more quickly than I remembered, making me think that there might have been an imperfection in my pint glass.

Aroma: Deep chocolate scent, but only a medium trace of alcohol. Surprising for a beer that's 7%. Very malty, with little to no hop smell.

Taste: Deep roasted coffee and chocolate flavors. Ideal for the style. Alcohol is not as harsh as many Imperial Stouts. Noticeable metallic taste, followed by deep almost burnt finish. By the third drink I notice rich flavors of caramel.

Mouth Feel: Think whole milk. Thick, but not as heavy as some. Coats the palate for at least a full minute after drinking.

Drinkability: Highly drinkable. Probably not a good beer to introduce you to stouts, however, stout lovers will already be familiar with this classic. Would I buy it again? Certainly. It is a personal favorite.

Chocolate Stout - Fort Collin's Brewery - Fort Collin's, CO.
American Stout - 12 oz bottle, 5.3% ABV

Appearance: Very dark to black. I decanted aggressively to achieve a one finger width, deep brown head that dissipated rapidly. The disappearing head left very little residue on the side of the glass.

Aroma: Bold chocolate notes. The scent of coffee is reminiscent of a mom and pop diner. Alcohol vapors are almost non-existent.

Taste: Mostly deep malt flavors. I may be projecting here, but I swear that I can taste the Colorado water. Not some "mountain stream" flavor, but more of a municipal profile similar to Tommy Knocker brews. This beer never approaches burnt characteristics, and finishes very cleanly.

Mouthfeel: Lighter than most stouts. Sufficiently carbonated and crisp.

Drinkability: Very drinkable. A step up from typical light beer, but not as overwhelming as a full bodied stout. The body falls within the acceptable range for American Stouts. Alcohol content is on the low side of the spectrum for this style. Would I buy it again? Probably not. It's a very good beer, but there are a slew of American Stouts that I prefer. Head retention is a problem with this beer.

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