As the weather keeps getting colder, and the snow keeps falling, I find myself gravitating towards the darkest style of the beer world, the stout. Now the term stout was historically used to define the strongest of porters brewed by a particular brewery. Today, stout and porter are pretty much interchangeable, and there are many examples of lower abv (alcohol by volume) stouts. It is brewer's preference whether to call their dark creation a stout or porter. As with all beer styles, there are so many variations of the stout it would be hard to make a blanket statement about the category in general. Today I am going to review two stouts with coffee added.
Sometimes people tell me that they don't like any beer that is dark in color. I would ask of that person, do you like to drink coffee? Is it the bitterness of the darker malts that turns you off? I think there is a dark beer for everyone, it's just a question of finding one with the right balance of flavor to suit a person's taste. I am going to review two different styles of coffee stout, one which is readily available and one special release that might be pretty hard to track down. When reviewing a beer, I follow the guidelines of appearance, aroma, taste, mouthfeel, and then overall impression.
First up is Southern Tier's 2Xpresso, which is described as a double milk stout brewed with coffee beans and lemon peels. This contains milk sugar, which does not ferment out. The abv is 7.5%
A- Pours a deep, dark black, bordering on jet. Opaque. Thin wispy head dissipates to almost nothing.
A- French roast coffee, a touch of alcohol, and an interesting hint of chocolate malt, almost like a malted milkshake.
T- Roasted coffee acidity, probably ramped up by the addition of lemon peel. Hop additions add to the bitterness. Milk sugar comes through and blends with the coffee notes, making this taste like a latte with sugar. Bitter chocolate and warm alcohol on the finish.
M- Starts out rich and velvety, but the astringent coffee elements make for an ashy bitterness. Medium body, but finishes a little thin. Carbonation is slight, but appropriate for the style.
O- This beer is definitely a tasty one, although I think the name is a little misleading. The fact that lactose is added makes this stout creamy and slighty sweet, a more apropo name would be latte stout, as opposed to espresso.
Second is the Mikkeller/Anchorage collaboration Beer Geek BreAKfast, described as a oatmeal stout brewed with coffee and fermented in oak tanks. The AK is capitalized in the name, as this was brewed in Alaska, and Anchorage Brewing Company. The abv is 7.5%. This bottle is from about 10 months ago, and has been sitting in my cellar.
A- Pours a dark, dark brown, but light shines through, if held up for inspection. Foamy big bubbled head, fades to thin cap.A- Oak, lots of oak, green coffee beans, a little oatmeal sweetness
T- Burnt espresso notes with the oak omnipresent, the oatmeal sweetness from the nose is less prevalent in the taste. Roasted malts with an almost metallic taste through the mid palate. Dry and bitter on the finish.
M- Surprised at how thin this feels, but the oatmeal adds just enough body and creaminess to save it from being too thin. Almost subdued, with a drying sensation on the finish.
O- Mikkeller has made many variations of his "beer geek breakfast" stouts, and this one just seemed a little blah to me. The weird metallic taste, thin body, and oak flavor that outshines the coffee makes this one of my least favorite of the series. Too bad, I had high hopes. If you are looking to try one, go for the Beer Geek Brunch Weasel, with the civet cat coffee. That one rules!
Until next time, Cheers!