Penticton, BC’s Cannery Brewing has given us Darkling Stout.
The darkest brown a beer can be without being black, only direct light shows lighter brown highlights through it. The head is coarse bubbles that dissipate quickly but show a cream colour while they are there.
The aromas are very wintery, I get a lot of prune, rum and fruitcake scents dominating. A little bit of black cherry comes through as well and some bitter cocoa.
Prune and fruitcake are the lead flavours. There are roasted malt and cocoa flavours underneath that balance the sweet tastes.
I do not know much about the Minhas Creek Craft Brewing Company of … either Regina, Saskatchewan or Winnipeg, Manitoba but they put out a Bunny Beer Sampler Pack for Easter and I couldn’t resist the gimmick. I am weak. There are four beers and I’m going to to try to review one per day of the Easter long weekend. I know this is going up on Saturday but I started writing on Friday so I’m going to say it counts.
To start off with, it is a nice, dark stout, looking black with no light coming through. The head is a deep brown with large bubbles. If you are looking for a stout this looks like a stout.
The scents are heavily of cocoa and, very nicely, the subtle fruity notes that really good cocoa and chocolate can have. Basically there is chocolate, cherry and blackberries on the notes but there are more complex notes I haven’t been able to tease out yet.
The flavours have a lot going on. There is, of course, chocolate/cocoa but the predominant taste is actually tart fruit, almost like a gooseberry. There are some nice coffee flavours underneath and a little milky sweetness. The mouthfeel is surprisingly thin for a stout with this much flavour with a little tickly carbonation.
Located in Bend Oregon is a brewery that plays it just a little different. This brewery is called “The Ale Apothecary” and its motto is “Vintage-batch, barrel by barrel. Cottage instead of factory. Flavor before efficiency. Love prior to spreadsheets.” The beer isn’t cheap and it is just as hard to find as it is expensive but if you get lucky you are in for a treat! For my second intro to this awesome brewery I was able to get a bottle of “Be Still” a mixed fermentation ale that has been aged in Rye Whiskey & Pinot Barrels. This beer is fermented with no yeast and only lactobacillus culture, brettanomyces and pediococcus and thus is recommended to be consumed within 3-6 months of bottling! The beer pours a deep brown with no head as it is uncarbonated. The aroma is dominated by lactobacillus, brettanomyces, wine, whiskey and a good fruitiness. The flavour has some dominant notes of Pinot wine with lots of lactobacillus, brettanomyces, fruits, tartness, whiskey, oak, tannins, cocoa and some minor coffee notes. The alcohol content of this batch was 8.4% but does range from 7-9% batch to batch. This was a very interesting sour ale with tones of flavour. If you can stomach the price then pick up a bottle or two if you can find it!
Commercial Description: Be Still is our dark sour and presented barrel-still, without carbonation, for optimum mouthfeel and balance. Brewed with roasted barley and biscuit malts, the structure of the beer comes from acid produced by our house lactobacillus culture as well as acid from brettanomyces and pediococcus activity during the 10-month aging period in rye whiskey and fresh pinot noir barrels. Prior to bottling, the rye and wine portions are blended together and allowed to sit on cascara (sun-dried exterior fruit of the coffee bean) and cocoa nibs to add depth and complexity. The beer retains the fingerprint of our yeast culture and evolves in your glass, but is a wild departure from our lively bottle-fermented offerings. Be Still is a glimpse into an alternative beer universe that is just waiting to be explored. Due to the nature of this beer (yeast-free), it is recommended that you consume the beer fresh within 3-6 months of batch date on bottle to avoid oxidation flavors from shrouding your experience.
From Southeast Portland Oregon’s The Commons Brewery comes their “Brotherly Love” 2014 Edition. This beer is part of the Beetje Series named after the Flemish word for “Little bit” it celebrates the Garage Brewery where The Commons Brewery began. These beers are all small batch experimental beers. The Brotherly Love is a Belgian Dark Strong Ale that is aged in second use Bourbon barrels with sour cherries and Cocoa Nibs from both Trinidad and Peru. The beer pours a deep brown almost opaque with a tan head. The aroma consists of cocoa, sour cherries, roasty malts, bourbon, oak and maybe some yeast. The flavour is of roasted malts, bourbon, cocoa, oak, sour cherries, yeast and dark fruits. The alcohol comes in at a cool 10% alcohol although that does not come through in the flavour one bit. This is an amazingly crafted ale and I would love to have a few more bottles of this kicking around (sadly I don’t).
Commercial Description: Brotherly Love is our Belgian Dark Strong Ale, Little Brother, aged in second-use Bourbon barrels with Northwest grown sour cherries and Ecuadorian cacao nibs roasted by Woodblock Chocolate in SE Portland.
From Parallel 49 Brewing in East Vancouver comes a concoction from their new addition their Fusion Tower. The Fusion Tower takes a standard beer and infuses it with other ingredients. On the day I checked out the fusion tower they had their Old Boy Classic ale being infused with orange peel and cocoa nibs. The beer poured a deep brown colour with a tan head. The aroma consisted of caramel, toffee, malts, orange peel and cocoa nibs. The ale was packed with flavour including roasted malts, caramel, toffee, bitter orange peel, cocoa nibs, mild hops bitterness and a mild English yeast. The alcohol content comes in at 5% and the IBU is 25. This is already a great beer but the the infusion of flavour was amazing! I will have to find a way to do these flavour infusions at home.