Beer and Pavement

Top 5 Stout Franchises

Posted in Beer, Top 5, Uncategorized by SM on December 19, 2011

Breweries brew all kinds of beer, but only a few produce exceptional imperial stouts time and time again. Often, they use one base imperial stout in their aging and barreling programs, but other times they add ingredients to alter the flavor one way or another. These are the five best breweries at producing series of imperial stouts.

(Note – I considered including non-imperial stouts, but the list became too unwieldy and I tend to prefer imperial stouts this time of year. Had I gone with all stouts, Bells would have surely deserved a mention. Their imperial is excellent and their lineup of non-imp stouts is impressive.)

5. Mikkeller – Between the Black Hole series and all those Beer Geek Breakfast/Brunch beers, it’s hard to find a more intriguing set of imperial stouts. Add to that one of the better big beers I’ve had this year in Black, Mikkeller holds the title of best Danish/Gypsy brewer of imperial stouts all by himself.

4. Great Divide – Sometimes, it becomes easy to overlook the great beers that do regularly ship to one’s market. We get Great Divide here in Missouri which is a treat. Their Yeti series of imperial stouts is pretty impressive. They add chocolate, oak, Belgian yeast, etc. for a nice lineup of tasty imp stouts.

3. Three Floyds – I have had one Dark Lord in my lifetime and it was pretty great. If you look at any beer rating site, the top imperial stouts list is littered with variations of this one beer. This fact makes it hard to not rate it in my top-5, but the fact I’ve only personally had one bottle makes it even more difficult to rate it higher than the next two breweries.

2. Goose Island – GI is famous for a couple of things. One is the fact that they were bought out by ABI. The second is that they brew Bourbon County Stout. On it’s own, BCS is an incredible beer. However, GI does several versions that are hard to get, but if you do, it’s totally worth it. On top of that, they sell the base imperial stout used to age in those bourbon barrels known as Big John. Let’s hope the first fact mentioned here doesn’t interfere with the second.

1. Founders – Even beyond all the hype built for the release of Canadian Breakfast Stout in bottles this year, Founders brews a mean lineup of imperial stouts. The breakfast stout is the only beer with coffee (aside from some of the Mikkeller beers) that I will regularly buy. Then, there’s Kentucky Bourbon Stout and their “regular” imperial stout. Plus, there are periodically versions of these beers popping up here and there in kegs all over the Midwest. All of this make Founders the king of the imperial stout, IMO.

Also…

Southern Tier – The Darkwater Series is hard to deny. Check out Chokolat, Creme Brullee, Mocha, and Java for four of the tastiest dessert beers you’ll ever find.

Hoppin’ Frog – I haven’t gotten far into the Frog’s BORIS series, but what I’ve had is pretty good. It would help if they had a wider distribution in Missouri, but I can wait for periodic shipments from Ohio now and again. Rumor has it that a DORIS is coming my way.

Alesmith – Alesmith’s Speedway stout is a pretty grand imperial, but I just haven’t had enough of it or any of its variations to be able to report on it. Plus, although well-hyped in its own right, it just doesn’t hold the cachet of a Three Floyds yet.

Priorities

Posted in Beer, Intersections by SM on April 19, 2010

I had a couple of choices of what to do with my evening the Saturday before last. There was the rock show at an undergrad dive featuring some locals I like and an interesting interloper. Then, at the last minute, a fellow Beer Enthusiast invited me over for a tasting1. Knowing the host and the other guy he invited, my choice was easy. (I’ll get back to this later2.)

However, the choice did not sit well with me. Sure, the beer and conversation was a pretty nice way to spend a Saturday evening, but I wondered what was happening to me. I used to always go out to see rock shows, especially locals with new out-of-towners sharing the bill. Was it a case of old age sneaking up on me? Am I too old to hang out at college bars drinking bad beer3? Was I not a good friend/cyberfriend4 to one of the band members who’s been unsuccessfully inviting me out to shows for a while now? Was I choosing beer over rock ‘n roll? Is that even possible?

The answer is not easy. On one hand, I’m too old to rock, making me rather boring. On the other hand, I’m a jerk who all but promises show after show to demonstrate support for the local scene, but never follows through5. Neither answer paints me in a very good light.

Of course, I still go to rock shows. Last Monday, I did see Japandroids. I arrived way too early, opting to sneak out for a beer or two at a bar with a much better selection. I completely missed the two openers for a chance to down a good west coast IPA in a can6 and an expensive Saison I’ve already forgotten.

Granted, my time for such pastimes is precious these days with a nineteen-month old telling where to sit and choreographing my every dance move7. That child even makes me more accountable to my partner who needs a break now and again. The time for one interest is barely there, much less the time for two hobbies. Yet, I still find a way to pack in some of it.

Someone will point out that it’s about priorities, but I don’t think that’s completely accurate. For example, I was fully prepared to make my inaugural trip to Dark Lord Day this spring. Then, there was Schlafly’s Repeal Fest this past weekend. And beyond that, there were little beer trips here and there to plan and scheme8. I was fully prepared to make myself into a full-fledged beer tourist.

That was all before Pavement decided to play the Midwest. I bought my three-day passes to Pitchfork in Chicago along with train tickets and a hotel room. (Plus, I bought a ticket for their September gig9 in Kansas City.) Beer tourism was put on hold for Pavement.

So, I haven’t totally prioritized beer over music. It just happened that way on one particular weekend. My age is not the problem; lack of time is. So, that’s why I’m trying to blog about both in this space, trying to show how together, (craft) beer and Pavement can build international coalitions for peace, love, and happiness.

Or some shit like that.

Back to the beer.

We drank this:

The blank bottle is my homebrew, Wowee Zowee, which is a huge double IPA named for a Pavement record by the same name. I’ll post on this some more once the labels are affixed to the bottles. Just know that this beer is filthy.

Next to the homebrew is De Proef Signature Les Deux Brasseurs Ale brewed with Jason Perkins. I know, I know. It’s not the catchiest name for a beer, but it is gooooooood. Those dudes at De Proef keep tapping into the best and brightest brewers in the US for these special releases. I can’t remember exactly what it tasted like, but I remember that it’s good. I’d say you should buy any 750 mL bottles you find with the De Proef name etched on its label. For reals.

Moving right, the beer with the frog on it is a Hoppin’ Frog IPA. It’s as solid an IPA as any west coast IPA and it’s from OHIO10.

Let that sink in for a moment: a great west coast IPA from OHIO.

Then there’s The Bruery Trade Winds Tripel. Supposedly, there’s Thai basil in them thar bubbles, but we couldn’t taste ’em. It was really, really good. I need to get a hold of some more beers from The Bruery.

After that is the Mikkeller 1000 IBU. I’ve had this beer before, but it somehow tasted even better on this particular Saturday. You’d think a beer with 1000 IBU’s would be so bitter that it would teeter on the edge of undrinkable, but the malt backbone holds up well. Mikkeller is an interesting “brewery”. They’re these hipsters who travel from brewery to brewery, stirring up their magic concoctions and charging an arm and a leg for them, but somehow it’s worth it. With the rise of bourbons and vodkas made by hipsters, it seems that their true calling is in booze and not music11. Just sayin’.

I know almost nothing about Southampton Cuvee Des Fleurs. It was murky and stank. That’s a good thing. It’s sort of like a garage band with a fat-ass bassline who laments everything and is really not appealing in any way…but you love them anyway.

The last is the Ken Schmidt/Maui/Stone Kona Coffee Macadamia Coconut Porter. Yes, that is a mouthful and so was the beer. Don’t go looking for this badass porter at your local pharmacist. I’m pretty sure they’re all gone. Normally, porters are not my thing, but the coffee is so rich in this one. It must be the coconut.

In summation, the beer was good. We talked about our kids but mostly the beers. Priorities, man.

Notes:
1A fancy term for getting together, pouring a few beers, and shooting the shit.
2Skip down (up from the footnotes) to read about the beer and to skip my mid-thirties crisis.
3I sort of outgrew this early on, aside from a few disastrously embarrassing evenings/mornings.
4I say this b/c we’ve struck up a good online friendship, but in our only face-to-face meeting, I ran the other direction. Of course, I was taking my daughter to the restroom to wash her up for dinner at a brewery where said-friend/cyberfriend was working, unbeknown to me.
5I blame this on Evites and event invitations via Facebook. It’s easy to mark “maybe” or even “yes” and then not show up. I am guilty of this over and over again.
6A Caldera which is always delish.
7Seriously. When we dance, she now tells/shows me which dance moves are appropriate when.
8I have been working on wine country (also plenty of beer), Portland, Colorado, and Belgium trips for a while now.
9On the same day as my kid’s second birthday.
10The best part is that it will soon invade my current home state, Missouri.
11Sort of growing tired of hipsters branding themselves as authentic music “aficionados”. Sort of wish hipsters would leave the music blogging to those of us who “really get” music. Feeling jealous of their ability to brand their lifestyles as “music-obsessed” and “with it”.