19 December 2009

Black Chocolate Stout

Last spring when I was in Manhattan, I discovered a great draught beer called Brooklyn Lager. Locally brewed by Brooklyn Brewery, it is available in many bars and pubs around New York and was a very nice example of dark, slightly malty brew. Since then, I have tried the bottled version available here in Ontario, and while not quite as good as the draught, was still quite decent. It was due to this experience with Brooklyn Lager that I snapped up Brooklyn Brewery's newly-available Black Chocolate Stout when it became available at the LCBO.

I must admit that while being a massive fan of draught Guinness, I have found bottled stouts to be rather hit-or-miss. While Guinness has gone to great lengths to capture the essence of their world-famous draught with their very good "pub draught" bottles and cans, other breweries seem to flood the market with very bitter, overly-malted stouts often with excessive alcohol content. Knowing this, I had rather mixed feelings about the Brooklyn Brewery product when I noted the devestating 10% abv. However, based on my prior experience with their lager, I thought it was worth the risk. Further inspection of the packaging noted this beer contains only water, malted barley, hops and yeast, along with this description of the product:

Limited Bottling - Winter 09-10

In the last century, British brewers made strong stouts for the Czar's Court. They were called Imperial Stouts. Our Black Chocolate Stout, brewed once yearly for the winter season achieves a chocolate aroma and flavour through the artful blending of six varieties of black, chocolate and roasted malts.

Back at Brian's, we chilled the beer and sat down for the tasting. Michelle seemed overly excited at the prospect of a "chocolate" beer (typical woman!), however once I reminded her that not one of the so-called "chocolate" beers ever reviewed on this blog tasted like chocolate, her excitement faded somewhat. The first thing we noticed once this thick brew was poured into the glasses was it is black, and when I say black I mean literally the antithesis of a summer afternoon black. The great white shark's "doll's eyes" black. Dante's 7th Circle of Hell black (you get the picture). Coupled with this demonic blackness was the oily look of the liquid in the glass. While I have reviewed serveral beers on here that looked like old engine oil, the properties of this brew even behaved like oil in that it actually left a film on the sides of the glass as it was gently swirled around. Not a good sign at all.

By now, Michelle's former excitement about drinking chocolate beer had completely dissolved as she looked with disgust into her sample, possibly contemplating Nietzsche. We raised our glasses with a hearty 'salut!' and drank. The immediate taste was very strong and nasty malt, which finished bitterly on the palate and gave a slight alcohol burn as it went down. The malty bitterness did not fade, but stayed as strong as the initial taste. Brian remarked "this stuff climbs into your mouth, moves right in and doesn't flush!" As Michelle choked down the remains of her sample, she contemplated, "Who'd drink this? Seriously." As I waxed nostalgic about springtime in New York with this beer's sexy cousin, I really did have to wonder.

Black Chocolate Stout Final Score:
Michelle - 2
Brian - 1
Myself - 3