With recent news of Seattle’s Elysian Brewing selling out to AB Inbev I thought a taste test of Elysian’s newest seasonal release was in order to ensure that it had not become weak urine flavoured beer. All kidding aside I’m sure Elysian had their reasons for taking the deal and I hope the company continues to operate in the same way it has for years. Split Shot is an Espresso Milk Stout brewed with Stumptown Espresso beans to an ABV of 5.6%. Split Shot is single hopped with Magnum to a mild but well balanced 28 IBU’s.
Pouring out a entirely opaque black in the body a dauntingy thick mass of tan mocha coloured head looms on top. The aroma is heavy with espresso and coffee notes swirling richly with creamy lactose notes. Heavily roasted with dark chocolate, anise seed and vanilla beans aromas mixing in with the espresso and lactose notes. A rich and espresso heavy flavour with tons of roasted malts, complex coffee bean flavours with a mild fruity note. Mild vanilla in the front with dark chocolate and potent roasted notes. The finish is mildly bitter with a light dry astringency and a heavy espresso flavour. A fairly well balanced brew with a full body and a huge hit of espresso throughout. This is a great example of a unique style brewed to be both complex and well balanced.
Central City Brewing Company located in Surrey, British Columbia recently produced a series of officially licensed The Hobbit beers based on the trilogy of movies. Smaug Stout is an 8.5% ABV Strong Stout (Imperial Stout) brewed with hot chili peppers as influenced by the dragon Smaug. The inspiration is described as follows, “After escaping capture by the dangerous Woodland Elves, the Dwarves journey to Laketown, and finally to the Lonely Mountain itself, where they must face the greatest danger of all–a creature more terrifying than any before, which will test not only the depth of their friendship and the wisdom of the journey itself – the Dragon Smaug.”
Pouring out a deep, impenetrable black with a thick, foaming tan head that appears creamy and dense. The aroma is rich and robust with a slight influence of spice or chili. Heavy espresso and dark chocolate notes and more subtle aromas of licorice and vanilla blend well with the alcohol and spice laced aroma. A bit sweet upfront with light fruity notes and chocolate flavours. Rich and full bodied with heavy roasted malts and a mild estery flavour. The finish has moderate bitterness and mild hop presence with a heavy roasted finish and lingering aftertaste. The spice and chili comes in a bit on the finish but is mostly lost to the heavy malts and other flavours. An enjoyable brew overall with a heavy and rich profile that hits the palate relentlessly.
Surrey, British Columbia’s Central City Brewing Company has built a reputation in the Canadian craft beer community for making great and unique brews. Most well known for the Red Racer IPA which is consistently voted the best IPA in Canada. For the 2014 Christmas season Central City has brewed Gingerhead, a 6% ABV stout with natural ginger used in the brewing process.
Opening the bottle and pouring a completely opaque black body fills the glass. Sitting atop is a puffy, bubbly beige head that dies almost instantly leaving but a few splotchy rings on the glass. The aroma is laden with tantalizing notes of gingerbread cookies and ginger spice. Notes of roasted malt including subtle hints of espresso and vanilla are also found on the aroma. My first sip of Gingerhead has a moderate ginger spice and a sweet, rich malt composed of roasted barley, chocolate and subtle vanilla. The finish is smooth, light and slightly creamy with a lingering aftertaste of roasted malt and ginerbread. The body is a bit watery and mild mannered. Overall I commend Central’s City choice in making a Gingerbread Stout instead of a spiced strong ale that most breweries make for the holidays. I can’t say I’ll try this one again as I found it monotone and a bit boring.
For me beer isn’t just something to drink for its obvious intrinsic properties but also for the experience of tasting something crafted with the purest of abilities. Over the past 7 years of diving headfirst into the craft beer world there have been several beers attached to memories and moments special to me. I recently wrote a review of Nøgne Ø Imperial Stout Aged in Cognac Barrel that brought back so many crazy memories of experiencing Oslo and Bergen during the celebrations of Norwegian Constitution Day which is May 17. This review can be found here: https://albertabeersmith.wordpress.com/2013/07/24/nogne-o-imperial-stout-aged-in-cognac-barrel/ For me a simple beer can be related to an incredible experience or even a great night out with friends. Elysian Dragonstooth is a 7.5% ABV Imperial Oatmeal Stout from the chain of Brewpubs based in Seattle, WA that I had heard of for many years from friends in British Columbia. Last September I visited a friend of mine attending Graduate school at UBC when we decided to head out to the legendary Alibi Room for a few libations. To keep this story short I should mention that I was a mere 13 beers short of my thousandth so I had reason to over consume. To the chagrin of the bartender my thousandth beer was Dragonstooth on tap. For me Dragonstooth will remain connected to the experience of celebratory drunkenness and the following consequences of my over consumption. When I met Elysian Brewmaster Dick Cantwell in October this year and he mentioned that Dragonstooth would make its way onto Alberta shelves for the first time I was over the moon. Anyways, on to the beer.
Elysian Dragonstooth pours out an entirely black colour with a creamy oatmeal based head that froths against the glass heavily leaving a collection of sticky lacing blotches. At first look the aroma is heavily roasted with big notes of espresso, used coffee grounds, porridge with brown sugar, molasses and a hint of cocoa. The roasted malts are rather heavy on the nose and should lend a solid amount of bitterness to the flavour profile. A bit of an overly sweet mid palate with creamy oatmeal malt notes as well as hints of brown sugar, molasses, toffee and chocolate. A smooth finish with a creamy oatmeal palate and a full body that has quite a hit of roasted malt bitterness in the lingering aftertaste. Nice espresso and coffee notes blend well with the malt sugars giving a surprising balance overall. The nose falls a bit flat comparatively to the flavour profile as it lacks the complexity and solid overall balance.