Category Archives: Stouts

Cantillon’s 2014/2015 Zwanze Could be Spontaneously-Fermented Stout

Cantillon Zwanze Stout wort

Brasserie Cantillon, one of the world’s finest traditional brewers of Belgian lambic beer and one of my favorite breweries, recently posted some images and information on its Facebook page that suggest its annual Zwanze beer for 2014 or 2015 could be a spontaneously fermented stout.

From Cantillon’s page:

“Dark for a Lambic wort isn’it?? This is the probably future Zwanze 2014 or 2015, a Cantillon interpretation for a spontaneous fermentation stout…Fermentation starts! Foam is darker than the one from a Lambic, we are on the right way…”

Last year’s Zwanze Day was one of my favorite beer “holidays” of 2012. (Find out why here.) And the 2012 Zwanze brew, a lambic flavored with rhubard, was one of the most interesting beers I’ve ever tasted. I haven’t been able to find any official details on the 2013 Zwanze Day, but I can tell you I will be in attendance, assuming there is a celebration this year.

Cantillon Zwanze Stout Fermentation

I honestly don’t think I’ve ever had a spontaneously fermented stout, but I’ll give anything Cantillon brews a try. The closest beer I can think of is Drie Fonteinen’s Zwet.be, a porter brewed with wild yeast, which I had recently and enjoyed.

Anyway, the countdown to 2013—and 2014 and 2015—Zwanze Day is on.

UBN

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When Life Gives You Blizzards, Drink Imperial Stout

Fifty Fifty Brewing Eclipse Elijah Craig Imperial Stout in the snow

As you may know, the northeastern United States are currently getting slammed by a “potentially historic winter storm,” a.k.a., a blizzard, nor’ easter or big ol’, fuckin’-cold mess. I’m looking out my apartment window as I write this post, and it’s really coming down.

Public transportation in the city of Boston is shut down indefinitely. You can’t park on many city streets, which is a huge pain in the ass, because the city does not tell you were you can park, only where you can’t. And worst of all, Beer Advocate had to cancel its Night of the Barrel beer fest tonight and both Extreme Beer Fest sessions tomorrow, one of which I have tickets for. Bah.

But you know that old saying, when life gives you lemons, etc., etc? Well, the Urban Beer Nerd has a saying of his own: When life gives you blizzards, drink a high-end imperial stout. With gusto. It’s almost quittin’ time, and I’m about to do just that. I’m going with a Fifty-Fifty Brewing Co. Eclipse stout aged in Elijah Craig 12-year barrels that I’ve had in my “cellar”—a cabinet built into a wall of my apartment—for a while.

And I’m willing to bet I’ll have much more positive outlook on the prospect of shoveling my shitty car out of as much as three feet of snow in the coming 24 hours after I’ve imbibed this pitch-black, barrel-aged beverage.

If you’re in a location affected by Nemo—the storm, not the animated fishy—I hope you stay safe, warm and full of stout. Cheers, ya hears?

UBN

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The Basic Physics of Beer Bubbles

Physics of Beer Bubbles

Ever wondered why the bubbles in your pint of stout appear to fall down instead of rise up? Or why the head of a pitch-black ale is bone white?

The Institute of Physics posted a Web page that answers these questions and more. I’m not sure how “new” the page is, but I found it this morning. And though, it looks like it was designed to be used by kindergartners—or very drunk beer nerds—it contains some interesting, if basic, information on beer.

Pop on over to Physics.org and learn something you didn’t know about the science of beer. Or just keep staring at those bubbles and wondering. I don’t care what you do.

UBN

via Gizmodo

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Tips on How to Age Beer, from Dogfish Head

Cantillon Bottles Aging

Bottles of beer aging at the Cantillon brewery in Brussels, Belgium

Last summer, Dogfish Head Craft Brewery posted an informative story with five tips on how to age beer. At the time, I glanced over it quickly, but I honestly wasn’t really thinking too much about aging brews at that point. Since then, I’ve built up my beer “cellar,” which is really just a big-ass cabinet built into the wall in my apartment, and I’ve spend quite a bit of time identifying and amassing beers that should age well.

Here’s a quick breakdown of Dogfish Head’s tips on how to age beer:

  1. A little experimentation goes a long way
  2. Don’t underestimate fresh
  3. High-alcohol beers tend to age better
  4. Storage matters
  5. Beer won’t spoil

After doing a lot of experimenting of my own, the first two steps really stand out to me. I’ve learned that the best way to really see and taste the difference between aged beer and “young” beer is to collect different “vintages” of each of them, and then do side-by-side taste tests. For example, I have bottles of this year’s Dogfish Worldwide Stout and 120 Minute IPA, both of which have very high ABVs, and both of which are particularly well suited for aging. I don’t plan on drinking either of them until I can get 2013 versions of each beer, at least, and probably not until I collect 2014 bottles, too. I’ve had Worldwide Stout and 120 Minute IPA numerous times in the past, but never along with different vintages, and it’s hard to remember their complex subtleties.

I’ve also learned that as a general rule of thumb, hoppy beers and beers made with fruit tend to taste better fresh and probably don’t make the best candidates for aging. There are some exceptions, of course—120 Minute IPA is intensely hoppy and some Belgian beers made with cherries or other berries can age well over a number of years. Many people think IPAs age well, because they were originally sent by the British Army to soldiers in India and were thought to age better than normal pale ales. But that was due to the increase in ABV, and I’d bet those IPAs didn’t exactly taste fresh after their long voyages.

Read more specifics from Dogfish Head’s Quality Control Manager Rebecca Newman on the brewer’s website.

UBN

Image via Flickr user Travlr

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International Stout Day is November 8

International Stout Day 2012

Huh. Who knew? Next Thursday, November 8, is International Stout Day. This year apparently marks the second annual International Stout Day celebration.

From StoutDay.com:

International Stout Day is a worldwide celebration of the iconic beer style, Stout. Taking place in homes, pubs, breweries and restaurants; it’s all about celebrating the craft beer revolution, relishing in this beloved beer style, sharing your photos, tasting notes and events with the world.

It seems like every other week, somebody tries to capitalize on the popularity of beer today, with another beer day or beer week whatever. And I’m okay with that, I guess, though I don’t really need another excuse to drink. (At least International Stout Day has a website with some details about the event, unlike shitty ol’ National Drink Beer Day.)

I’m traveling to Portland Maine next week for Portland Beer Week, and I’ll definitely be on the lookout for Maine Beer Co.’s Mean Old Tom, but not because Thursday is International Stout day; because Mean Old Tom is a mean fucking stout.

UBN

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Ken Schmidt / Iron Fist / Stone Mint Chocolate Imperial Stout Review

Ken Schmidt / Iron Fist / Stone Mint Chocolate Imperial Stout

Ever since I wrote about Stone Brewing Co.’s latest collaboration brew last month I’ve been dying to get my hands on a bottle, because I’m a big fan of Stone’s past collaborations. Yesterday, I found one, and today I’m drinking—and reviewing—it.

I’ve had a few different beer styles flavored with mint in the past, and I was not a fan of any of them. So I was somewhat skeptical of the Ken Schmidt / Iron Fist / Stone Mint Chocolate Imperial Stout before I tasted it. But I’m pleasantly surprised, because this imperial oatmeal stout is delicious. That shouldn’t come as any surprise because the brew was made by three seriously talented brewers: Stone Brewing Co.‘s Mitch Steele, Iron Fist Brewing Co.‘s Brandon Sieminski and home brewer Ken Schmidt, who won Stone’s 2012 home brewing competition with the recipe for this stout.

I poured my stout slowly into a small Stone tasting glass, and it settled with very little head. Its sweet, pungent aroma of chocolate and coffee is immediately apparent, and you can’t really smell any mint. The brew is a beautiful deep-brown color with a tan head.

I let the bottle cool in my refrigerator overnight, but after reading Stone’s suggestion to drink the beer at cellar temperature, I let it sit for 10 minutes or so after removing it from the refrigerator. And I purposely drank it slowly to let the beer near room temperature.

The stout is thick with very fine carbonation. It tastes strongly of chocolate and coffee, and it finishes with a very mild, almost-indistinguishable mint flavor. That’s a good thing, because the mint is secondary to chocolate, coffee and molasses malts, and it compliments them instead of overpowering those flavors. And as the beer warms up, the distinct flavors really pop.

Ken Schmidt / Iron Fist / Stone Mint Chocolate Imperial Stout has an ABV of 9.6%, and the warm alcohol taste combines nicely with the chocolate, coffee and mint. I’m honestly impressed with the brew, and I’d definitely drink it again. I also have to believe that the brew would age very nicely, so I’m going to try to find another one for my cellar.

Ken Schmidt / Iron Fist / Stone Mint Chocolate Imperial Stout started shipping on October 8, and it’s available in 18 U.S. states: Arizona; California; Colorado; Florida; Illinois, Massachusetts; North Carolina; New Mexico; New Jersey; New York; Ohio; Oregon; Pennsylvania; South Carolina; Texas, Virginia, Vermont and Washington. I paid $5 for my 12-ounce bottle, which is reasonable for such a complex, high ABV beer.

Ken Schmidt / Iron Fist / Stone Mint Chocolate Imperial Stout gets an 8/10 on the Urban Beer Nerd scale. (It has a BeerAdvocate.com rating of 91 based on 27 user reviews.)

Check out the video below for more details on the beer and its origins. (Is it me or is the narrator annoying as hell?)

UBN

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Ballast Point Indra Kunindra India-Style Export Stout Review

Ballast Point Indra Kunindra India-Style Export Stout

A couple of weeks ago, while visiting San Diego I hit a few bars that had Ballast Point Brewing Co.‘s new Indra Kunindra India-style export stout on tap. (If you’re curious those bars were Downtown Johnny Brown’s and Neighborhood.)

I’m a big fan of San Diego’s Ballast Point—the brewery’s Sculpin IPA is fantastic—but after reading a description of Indra Kunindra, I decided to go with something else. The selection of great beer at these bars is impressive, and the fact that Indra Kunindra is made with both curry spice and cumin, neither of which I really like, was a major turnoff. It kind of just sounded too…weird.

But when I returned to Boston, I found a 22-ounce bottle, and I decided to give it a go.

I poured my Indra Kunindra into a frosted pint glass, and it immediately formed a frothy tan-brown head made of very fine bubbles. The head quickly dissipated, leaving a thin layer of carbonation atop the dark brown brew—it’s not quite black, but very deep brown. And the India-style export stout is thick, but maybe not quite as thick as the average stout.

Ballast Point’s Indra Kunindra has a very mild aroma of spice, earth, coconut and sweet lime citrus. The stout is made with Madras curry spice, coconut, kaffir lime leaf, cayenne and cumin. But no one flavor is overpowering, and they all combine quite nicely. You can taste and smell the lime and coconut more than anything else.  The cayenne pepper leaves you with a notably spicy aftertaste and lingering burn.

Overall, I like this beer much more than I expected to after reading its description, and I regret not trying it on tap in San Diego.

Ballast Point Indra Kunindra India-Style Export Stout

Award-winning home brewer and Ballast Point Senior Brewer Alex Tweet made the brew in honor of the 46th anniversary of San Diego’s Holiday Wine Cellar, with the goal of creating a truly unique beer that pushes the boundaries of home and craft brewing. And he admirably succeeded.

My bottle cost $10.50, so it’s not exactly cheap. But I don’t feel as though that’s an unreasonable price for such a unique brew. It has an ABV of 7.0%. There’s no official Indra Kunindra page on Ballast Point’s website, unfortunately.

Ballast Point Brewing’s Indra Kunindra India-style export stout currently has a BeerAdvocate.com score of 86, based on 45 user ratings. And it gets a 7/10 ranking on the Urban Beer Nerd Scale.

UBN

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Goose Island Bourbon County Stout, ‘First Ever Whiskey-Barrel-Aged Brew,’ 2012 Edition Released Today

Goose Island's 2012 Bourbon County Stout

Chicago’s Goose Island Beer Co. today released its much-lauded Bourbon County Stout (BCS), according to ChicagoTribune.com. Goose Island’s BCS is notable because it is said to have been the first whiskey-barrel-aged beer, and it’s fairly difficult to get your hands on each year, especially if you don’t live in the Chicago area.

From the brewer:

BCS is “[a] liquid as dark and dense as a black hole with thick foam the color of a bourbon barrel. The nose is an intense mix of charred oak, chocolate, vanilla, caramel and smoke. One sip has more flavor than your average case of beer.”

Goose Island’s BCS should be a bit easier to find this year, too; company spokesman Mark Mahoney told The Tribune five times more BCS was brewed this year compared to 2011, and 10 times as much will be available in Chicago.

That’s good news, but the reason why the company was able to produce more BCS this year isn’t so pleasant. Shit-beer-giant Anheuser-Busch purchased Goose Island Beer Co. last year for more than $38 million. Last March, after news of the sale broke, Goose Island’s CEO said the deal wouldn’t change the beer his company produced, but even if that’s true, Goose Island is now part of AB, and as such, it’s part of the U.S. craft-beer-problem, in my opinion. The worst part about these behemoth-owned breweries is that they try to hide their ownership because they still want to be seen as craft breweries even though much of their beer is brewed right next to all those gallons and gallons of piss-colored swill. (Note that you find no mention of AB on Goose Island’s website.)

Anyway, the 2012 BCS is still apparently brewed at Goose Island’s Chicago brewery. The 14.5% ABV imperial stout comes in four packs, and initial availability outside of Chicago will be as follows, according to The Tribune:

Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and Virginia (week of Sept. 17); Maine, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Delaware (week of Sept. 24); Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Nebraska and South Dakota (week of Nov. 26); Tennessee and Kentucky (Nov. 26); California, Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, Montana, Idaho, Oregon and Washington. (Week of Nov. 27).

I’ve never had Goose Island’s BCS, but I’m definitely intrigued. I really like the company’s Christmas Ales and its Matilda Belgian-style pale ale. Unfortunately, it looks as though the 2012 BCS is coming to every New England state except Mass., so I may be out of luck this year.

UBN

(Image credit: Zagat.com)

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New Stone Collaboration, Mint Chocolate Imperial Stout, Coming Sept 24

Stone Collaboration Mint Chocolate Imperial Stout label

Whenever Stone Brewing Co. releases a new collaboration brew, I’m all over it. The next Stone collaboration with home brewer Ken Schmidt and Iron Fist, called Mint Chocolate Imperial Stout, will be no different.

The stout is Stone’s 15th brew in its collaboration series. For each collaboration brew, Stone teams up with two other specialty brewing companies or home brewers and throws caution to the wind, often coming up with very unique—and sometimes odd—brews.

The Mint Chocolate Imperial Stout collaboration should hit store shelves starting on September 24.

You can check out a list of all Stone’s collaboration brews on the company’s site. My favorites are the More Brown Than Black IPA, made by Stone, The Alchemist and Ninkasi Brewing Company; Cherry Chocolate Stout, made by Stone, brewers Jason Fields and Kevin Sheppard, and Troegs Brewing Company; and the San Diego County Session Ale, made by Stone, home brewer Kelsey McNair and Ballast Point Brewing.

UBN

via BeerPulse.com

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