Friday, February 5, 2010

Some thoughts about Stouts (and brown ales and porters)

"A quart of ale is a dish for a king."
-William Shakespeare

It used to be that when I went out drinking and decided to consult my server about which beer I should drink the following exchange would happen:

Me: so I’m a big beer drinker, what would you recommend?

Server: Um, what kind of beers do you like?

Me: Anything as long as it’s filtered and good.

Server: *looks confused, eventually finds something on the menu to suggest. Eight times out of ten, I had drunk the beer before.*

Recently though, I’ve realized I prefer darker beers. Unless one of my favorite lighter beers is offered, I find myself almost always choosing a brown, porter or stout. I’d be tempted to give my brother credit for my attachment to such beers – he’s one of the biggest Guinness drinkers I know (Timothy, I mean you love your Guinness, not that you are a huge human being); however, he doesn’t like dark beers all that much. I heard him say, and I quote, “I’m just not much of a porter or stout drinker.” I suppose when I felt myself physically react to those words, I should have known I was developing rather strong feelings for the malty variety.

(Side note: I’m curious to see how much of this relates to the weather. Last spring, there was an actual moment in time where I stopped ordering Tommy Knocker’s Maple Ale at my best friend’s bar because it was too heavy for the sunny weather. Paired with this is some vague recollection of missing the darker brews during this time. Someone remind me of this when spring hits.)

On that note, here are a few brief reviews of some dark beers I’ve been drinking:

The Wynkoop’s McKenzie’s Milk Stout. The other milk stout I am certain I have tried is LeftHand’s Milk Stout, and I remember liking that as well. Unfortunately, it’s been some time since I tried it, so I can’t quite compare the two. McKenzie’s was incredibly smooth and easy to drink. Quite possibly the smoothest drink I’ve found -- the beer pours down your throat like milk. It has a subtle smoky taste, but tastes sweet if you leave it on your tongue. It’s by far one of the more memorable beers I’ve had in the past few months.

Another Wynkoop brew I’ve tried recently was the B3K Schwartzbier. I know I’ve had it before, but I haven’t paid much attention to it until now. Even this time I didn’t take notes (yes, yes, I know, I should take notes, but there was a Nuggets game on and I was deep in conversation with a friend of mine). Mostly, I remember it as smoky: another beer trait I’m starting to realize I strongly favor. It’s the kind of beer I would drink when I’m craving Ellie’s, but want something a little different. Worth noting, it received the 2008 Gold medal from Great American Beer Fest for the German Schwartzbier category. (In some later post, I’m going to delve into the world of GABF awards. I think it’s something to explore.)

Finally, tonight I returned to the world of Lost Abbey. Mountain Sun/Vine Street, a Boulder based brewpub, is doing a stout month. I am obviously excited. As my luck would have it, the beers on their long list of stouts they have available this month, aren’t actually available, at least yet. They have a few at this point, but not whatever it was I wanted, so I let the bartender decide. He chose the Lost Abbey Serpent Stout. I ignored the feelings I developed towards Lost Abbey from my previous encounter with it and agreed to the selection. It was much better than the last one (still don’t know what that was). It was definitely fruitier than most stouts, and we all know how I feel about fruity beers, but I was willing to drink all of it – and not just because David/the Italian wasn’t with me. The 10% ABV gives it a bite and the smoky flavor comes out as more of an aftertaste, which again, I found somewhat unusual for a stout. But again, I didn’t mind the beer. I will say it doesn’t pair well with the avocado and cheese sandwich, and if I’m going to choose one or the other, I’m going with the sandwich.

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