Beer and Pavement

Do you like dark beer?

Posted in Beer by SM on November 16, 2011

I HATE it when a server asks whether or not I like dark beer. Dark beer is not a style. Dark beer does not contain more nutrients. Dark beer is just dark. Typically, a beer’s color is caused by the type of grains used in the brewing process. It often accompanies certain flavor profiles (roasted, chocolate, raisins, etc.), but it’s not limited to just one. There are big differences between porters, strong dark Belgian ales, bourbon barrel aged Russian imperial stouts, and Doppelbocks.

So, dark beer is just a way for people to describe beers who don’t know anything about beer. That’s why my beer club had some fun and decided to do a tasting featuring only dark beers. After a few objections, folks warmed up to the idea and ran with it. The following is what we drank in reverse order. (Keep in mind that each sample was maybe a couple ounces. So, I didn’t get as tanked as it may seem.) I’ll see if I can remember what each beer tasted like…

Mikkeller Black – I tweeted that this was maybe one of the best beers I’ve had this year. Whatever it was, it was really intense. So smooth despite all the heat. I look forward to drinking this one again as I have one sitting in my cellar/closet.

Shmaltz Bittersweet Lenny’s R.I.P.A. – This beer is so ridiculously full despite its reasonable price point, much like all the Schmaltz/He’Brew beers. To be honest, at this point in the evening, my taste buds were beyond shot.

Avery & Russian River Breweries Collaboration Not Litigation Ale, Batch# 2 – I don’t know whether or not this counts as a dark beer, but we drank it anyway. After a load of heavy beers, though, it just didn’t stand up. Still, it’s a nice beer and surprisingly strong.

AleSmith Brewing Company Wee Heavy – Much milder for this style, IMO. I was sort of surprised that it wasn’t more impressive, but what can a Wee Heavy do with a bunch of stouts?

BrewDog Abstrakt – Strange, but totally worth the sips I was able to have.

Brooklyn Brewery Local 2 – Nice beer. Somewhat delicate among the heavies, sort of like all Brooklyn brews.

HaandBryggeriet Odin’s Tipple HaandBryggeriet – A big, shining example of an imperial stout done right. Or so I think.

Life and Limb 2 – This one was sort of a letdown. Too subtle or too “boring?” More on that concept later this week.

He’Brew Rejewvenator (Year Of The Grape) 2010 –  I really liked this one. The grape really comes through. Despite my hesitancy to buy He’Brew fruit beers, this one and the Pomegranate beer are really good.

Treble Kicker Black Francis Imperial Stout – The bourbon has all but disappeared from this beer. The chocolate is still there, however. I’m looking forward to seeing how this beer ages.

Schlafly Reserve – Imperial Stout (2010) – Man, this beer could use some time in the cellar to age. It’s just too much bourbon and basically tastes like the barley wine. I bought one with the intention of aging it. So, we’ll see.

Atomic Cannon American Barley Wine – John is a homebrewer in our group. He did one of those deals where you brew a barley wine and turn around to use the spent grains to brew a ESB. I don’t know about the ESB, but this barley wine was superb. Tons of flavor and aroma like most great American barley wines. It could have been a little more carbonated, though.

Schlafly Reserve – Imperial Stout (2006) – The local Schlafly rep showed up with this bottle and we were glad he did. Where the younger version was overpowering with it’s bourbon flavor, this one had settled quite a bit. Gone as well was the thick, syrup-like mouthfeel of Jr. I loved this beer a ton. One interesting thing we learned was that the batches before 2009 (I think) were aged in either Maker’s Mark or Jack Daniels barrels. Today’s batches are aged in something else. (The rep couldn’t remember.) Whatever the difference is, get back to the 2006-2008 versions ASAP!

Hantverksbryggeriet Kosacken (Prototyp X) – I don’t know where this one came from, but it was a decent stout. (It’s a stout, right?) A couple of us were struggling to figure out what’s that thing that makes it taste so Scandinavian. Could it be juniper? I don’t know, but most of the beers from that region taste the same. From what I gather, double stouts are the “lighter” version of imperial stouts, body-wise.

Casa de Elwess Nuts About Porter – Jade is president of our little club and has recently taken up homebrewing. The beer showed up a bit flat, but she brews a nice porter. This one featured hazelnut, which had me a bit weary, but it wasn’t too overpowering.

Schlafly Black IPA – This beer was not officially part of the tasting, but the Schlafly rep showed up with a keg and most of us tried some anyway. It’s a decent Black IPA/Cascadian Dark Ale. It’s not too roasty and the hops have a nice presence. It’s not a hop bomb like some BIPA’s, but it’s pretty good. Several of us felt this would be a go-to beer if it were regularly available.

Update: Here’s the proof in picture form…

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9 Responses

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  1. Lyrics, Libations, and Life said, on November 16, 2011 at 8:22 am

    This convinces me I need a beer club

    • Zac said, on November 16, 2011 at 8:41 am

      You do. Start with your friends and build from there. A large percentage of the beers I’ve tasted have been at these club events.

    • Zac said, on November 16, 2011 at 9:01 am

      You know, a beer club is a good way to overcome some of your cellaring issues. Have someone with space keep a group cellar. Also, get the right people to join and they’ll gladly share what’s in their own cellars.

      • Lyrics, Libations, and Life said, on November 16, 2011 at 11:30 am

        That is an idea, I have a friend with a pretty big house in DC (which is uncommon). We have had a few different beer events, but I’m really the only one that has a continuous supply. They are more of the buy and consume as you go type.

      • Zac said, on November 16, 2011 at 11:38 am

        It’s hard to get friends to buy more beer than they can consume at one time. However, I’m a firm believer that all it takes is for that one beer epiphany to happen and they’re hooked. Maybe you should do a tasting that requires “ungettables.” In other words, challenge everyone to bring something you can’t find in your market…although, that would be difficult in DC. The challenge could be to find a beer no one has had. Of course, this would be easy at first, but it would get increasingly hard as you go. You could also do something where the best beer of the night wins a pot of cash or beer-related prize of some sort.

  2. broadfordbrewer said, on November 17, 2011 at 4:11 am

    Good post Zac. I did this exact same thing last week – with ‘dark’ beer too (and some cheese). Just the two of us on the night but the next one will be more people and more beer.

    • Zac said, on November 17, 2011 at 7:44 am

      Sometimes it’s tough for people to round up interesting beers in a certain style on short notice. We figured this broad category would be easy to satisfy while providing a nice variety of beers.

  3. Jade said, on November 18, 2011 at 9:13 am

    In retrospect, we should definitely have planned the order of this tasting better. The Brooklyn and the Wee Heavy got lost in the shuffle. As usual, it sped up towards the end, so things were moving crazy fast. These larger tastings get out of hand and there are suddenly two beers being passed around at the same time.

    Was that the first time you’d had my hazelnut porter? It was carbonated to begin with. I actually didn’t want to pass it around once I heard it was flat, but it was too late. Jason checked his kegs and the settings were all normal. I’m ready to move onto something else anyway.

  4. […]  It only seems appropriate that I would consume any beer that is Black on Black Friday.  Now I know we should not make too much out of the actual color of the beer, but I have to on a day called black […]


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