Moher Stout

Maker: Shorts, Bellaire, Michigan, USAwpid-2015-03-16-10.30.26.jpg.jpeg

Style: Double Irish-style stout.

ABV: 9.7%

Purchased for $13/6 pack

Appearance: Dark coffee brown with a beige lacy head.

Nose: Slightly toasty, sweet malt.

Palate: Sweet and a little sticky. Oatmeal, molasses, effervescence.

Finish: Some bitterness and a bit of smoke. Dry.

Parting words: Moher Stout is named for a scenic group of cliffs in Ireland that were, according to the bottle, the scene of at least one shipwreck.

Anyway, this differs from their Uncle Steve’s Stout in two ways. First, it’s at “double” strength and second oatmeal is used in the making of it. These two factors lift it above Uncle Steve’s and into highly recommended territory. Unfortunately the high price takes it down a peg from there. Moher Stout is, like I said, recommended.

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Barrel Aged Imperial Stout

Maker: Arcadia Ales, Battle Creek/Kalamazoo, Michigan, USAwpid-2015-03-02-19.36.32.jpg.jpeg

Purchased: 2012

ABV: 12%

Price: Don’t remember.

Appearance: Dark chocolate brown with a short-lived lacy head.

Nose: Bourbon, sweet malt, strawberry licorice, light molasses.

Palate: Medium bodied and powerful. Coffee, anise, rye recipe bourbon, piloncillo.

Finish: Light with a little bourbon and molasses.

Parting words: Aging beer is something I got really interested in a couple years ago and it’s starting to pay off now. I had an aged Arcadia Imperial Stout at the Arcadia brewpub once and it was good but was all anise and little else. This is much richer but oddly playful. The various flavors pop up seemingly at random on the palate to engage in a tug of war with the others. The result is not well integrated but still very enjoyable. If I have a complaint, it’s that it’s too enjoyable. I almost never get drunk off of beer but after just one of these I felt a pretty big buzz. At 12% ABV this beer is best drunk in the same way as a fortified wine. Find a friend or two and split a bottle after supper. I don’t remember what I paid for it but I think it was around $8 for one bottle which I think is fair for a liquid dessert. Barrel Aged Imperial Stout is recommended. Put it away for a while if you can.

Strange Stout

Maker: Lily’s Seafood Grill and Brewery, Royal Oak, Michigan, USA

Style: Oatmeal stout

ABV: 5.2%

Price: $5/pint, $12 growler refill

Appearance: Dark chocolate with a light lacy head.

Nose: Milk chocolate, caramel, toasted pumpernickel

Palate: Medium bodied. French roast coffee, cocoa powder, dark whole wheat toast.

Finish: Charcoal smoke, roasted barley, lingers for a good length of time.

Parting words: Lily’s is one of Downtown Royal Oak’s best regarded and longest operating restaurants. It’s named after Lily Strange, grandmother of the restaurant’s founders. Lily was born and raised in Scotland so the place has a vaguely Scottish theme.  In addition to serving great seafood (and other stuff), Lily’s is also a brew pub with consistently good beer. It’s a testament to how good that beer actually is it thrives in an area saturated with brewpubs and bars selling craft beer. In addition to this stout, they also make a light lager, hefeweizen, red ale and at least two seasonal offerings.

Strange Stout is a very good example of the style and the smoky finish adds and nice extra dimension not usually found in the competition. Don’t look for something to rival stouts from Bell’s or Founder’s, but this is a solid brewpub stout. Strange Stout is recommended.

Anderson Valley Bourbon Barrel Stout

Maker: Anderson Valley, Boonville, California, USAAnderson Val BBS

Style: Dry stout aged in Wild Turkey bourbon barrels.

ABV: 6.9%

Price: $10 (Binny’s)/22 oz bottle

Appearance: Chocolate bown with a big tan head.

Nose: Roasted malt, soy sauce.

Palate: Mildly sweet and bitter with some butterscotch and salted caramel.

Finish: Mildly sweet and a little fruity, then a touch of bitterness.

Parting words: My first encounter with an Anderson Valley beer was not a very positive one. This is much better. It’s not particularly ambitious or edgy. It’s just a stout that has spent some time in a bourbon barrel. But it’s tasty. The barrel contributes some very nice sweet butterscotch flavors without making it too boozy or sappy. One might even call this a session bourbon barrel stout. Maybe.

 

The price isn’t too bad for a product like this, but it is near the upper limit of what I would be willing to pay. Knowing the origin of the barrel is a nice bonus too. Anderson Valley Bourbon Barrel Stout is recommended.

Uncle Steve’s Irish Stout

Maker: Short’s, Bellaire/Elk Rapids, Michigan, USUncle Steve's Irish Stout

ABV: 5.5%

Purchased for $9

Appearance: Black with a foamy chocolate head

Nose: Dark toast, molasses, malt.

On the palate: Medium bodied, dry and effervescent. Dark roasted malt and a little sourness. A little sweetness at the end.

Finish: More dark toast and bubbles. Fades fairly quickly.

Parting words: It doesn’t take a lot of guesswork to figure out what brand of beer a craft “Irish Stout” is aimed at. If you like Guinness, you’ll like this. It’s a bit of an improvement on Guinness, but not enough to make it a repeat buy for me since I’m not a fan of that style of stout in the first place. I prefer my stouts more flavorful and chocolaty. Uncle Steve’s Irish Stout is mildly recommended.

The Lost Abbey Serpent’s Stout

Maker: Port, San Marco, California, USALost Abbey Serpents

ABV: 11%

Price: $14/750 ml (Binny’s)

Thanks to Rhiannon to help in acquiring this bottle.

Appearance: Black coffee with a big frothy head

Nose: Faint. Coffee.

On the palate: Full bodied and rich. Roasted malt, effervescence, chocolate covered raisins, Ethiopian Harrar coffee.

Finish: Bitter and slightly sweet. Coffee and dark chocolate stick to the lips for a long time.

Parting words: Lost Abbey’s Serpent’s Stout is one of the best stout’s I’ve ever had. It’s fantastic beer that has a strong classic stout profile but is has a complexity and balance that puts it ahead of the competition. The fruity notes were a bit of a surprise but a welcome addition. As usual, I feel like I’m reaching for descriptors for a beer. I all have left to say is that one tastes really good. Lost Abbey Serpent’s Stout is highly recommended.

Lagunitas Cappuchino Stout

Maker: Lagunitas, Petaluma, California, USALag Cap Stout

Style: Stout with coffee.

ABV: 9.2%

Price: $4.50/ 22 oz bottle

Appearance: Dark coffee with a big head.

Nose: A bit of malt, mocha.

On the palate: Full bodied and fizzy. Cappuchino, roasted malt, tirimisu.

Finish: Coffee ice cream, long, bitter and creamy. Leaves a bit of sticky sweetness on the lips.

Parting words: Yes, we mostly do Michigan beers around here, but without a little context my reviews wouldn’t be worth what you paid for them.

Lagunitas Cappuchino Stout is a delicious beer. It’s not complex or revolutionary but it tastes really good after a meal. It would taste even better shared with 1-2 friends. At this price, it’s hard to beat. It is recommended.

Mint Chocolate Imperial Stout

Maker: Aloha Plenty/Iron Fist/Stone, California, USAMCIS

Style: Imperial stout with cocoa and mint flavoring added.

Vintage: 2012

ABV: 9.6%

Thanks to Rhiannon for this bottle.

Appearance: Black coffee with a lacy beige head.

Nose: Dark roasted malt, dark chocolate, faint herbal note.

On the palate: Full bodied and sweet. Like a Shamrock Shake upon initial entry. Some bitterness does surface later and on subsequent sips. Very dark chocolate, Espresso with a shot of peppermint schnapps.

Finish: Long, bitter and slightly sweet. The mint is in the background but still present.

Parting words: I wasn’t so sure what this beer was going to be like, but my doubts were unfounded. It’s delicious. The cocoa dovetails with the Stout-ness perfectly even to the point where I don’t think I would notice it if I didn’t already know it was there. The mint is noticeable but subtle, especially as the beer sits in the glass. I would have preferred a little more mint, but that’s a quibble. I also don’t know if adding cocoa was really needed but it didn’t hurt.

I received this beer as a gift from my cousin, so I’m not sure how much it sold for, but I’ve been able to find it online for $3 for a 12 oz. bottle. That’s not cheap, but since this is more of a novelty than a go-to brew, I wouldn’t mind paying that for a bottle or two. Mint Chocolate Imperial Stout is recommended.

Bell’s Special Double Cream Stout

Maker: Bell’s, Kalamazoo/Comstock, Michigan, USA.Bells Double Cream Stout

ABV: 6.1%

Thanks to Brian for leaving three of these at my house!

Appearance: Dark coffee brown with a creamy beige head.

Nose: Semi-sweet chocolate, apricot.

On the palate: Full-bodied, creamy, and slighly fizzy. Chocolate brownies with raspberry morsels mixed in while drinking a cup of Ethiopian Harrar coffee. I know that sounds nuts, but 1) that’s how it tastes and 2) Shut up.

Finish: Intense, but not heavy-handed. Like sucking on a wedge of dark (70%+) chocolate. Fades away very slowly leaving a delicious and slightly bitter coating all over the lips and tongue.

Parting words: Wow. Bell’s Double Cream Stout is a fantastic beer, probably the best stout I can remember having ever. The depth and subtlety of this beer is just stunning. I found myself wracking my brains trying to pick out flavors and descriptors for this review, even moreso than I usually do for beers! There was a lot more there than I could put into words.

For long-time Michigan microbrew drinkers, Bell’s can seem old hat at times. Oberon comes in mini-kegs and 12 packs here and I sometimes find myself rolling my eyes at the raving about Bell’s by out of state beer drinkers. “Oh you’re excited about picking up some Oberon and Two-hearted Ale today are you? How cute.” This stout shows very clearly why Bell’s has become the juggernaut (by microbrew standards) it is. Bell’s Double Cream Stout is a masterpiece and highly recommended.

Breakfast Stout

Maker: Founder’s, Grand Rapids, Michigan, USAbreakfaststout

ABV: 8.3%

Appearance: Dark chocolate brown with a pale head.

Nose: Bitter chocolate, black cherry.

On the palate: Medium-bodied. Rich, roasted grain flavors. Burnt toast, brandy, espresso beans.

Finish: Long and bitter. Like finishing a cup of French Roast.

Parting words: This beer delivers on the promise of the name. It’s like a dark roast coffee with a bowl of breakfast cereal in stout form. It’s rich in flavor and certainly potent at over 8% ABV, but not excessively boozey either. Goes well with a rich, cheesy meal or as just a meal in itself. One of Founder’s (and Michigan’s) best beers. Breakfast Stout is highly recommended.