Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Day 19: Beers 21-24 - WinterBrewed Continued

Both the ale and actual fruitcake are a mystery to me.
The best part of beer festivals is the different ways you get to try new beers. Special experimental brews, casks of old favorites, and yes, the fruitcake ale. So onward and drinkward to a selection of special beers that are hard to find anywhere other than booth to booth at a beerfest.

Beer #21 (#4 of WinterBrewed) Hogsback Aporkalypse Now Oatmeal Bacon Stout

I'm not sure if it's a breakfast theme, but this stout reminded me a lot of La Vache Folle Milk Stout, with a bit of that dairy taste. Aporkalypse Now's bacon stout had a huge draw at the fest, and who can blame the lines? According to statistics that sound true enough to be true, 90% of beer drinkers love bacon.

Aporkalypse Now is a decent smoky stout, but nowhere near the strong smoky flavors of German beers that specialize in it, and it may come from the hints of bacon flavor that hang at the end of each sip. True bacon afficionados will hem and haw about the light bacon-ness of the stout, but the bare flavor of it works to complement the dark, oatmeal stout flavor of the beer and works well without being overbearing, much like Rogue Brewing's Voodoo Doughnut Bacon Maple Ale beer.

It's a good oatmeal stout with a nice bacon-y finish, and any beer that lets me use the words "bacon-ness" and "bacon-y" earns an extra point with me.

Hogsback Aporkalypse Now Oatmeal Bacon Stout
Hogsback Brewing Company, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Alcohol Rating: 5.5%
Class: Oatmeal Stout
Rating: 7 out of 10
Quote: "Itttttttsssssssssssssssss Bacon! What? They don't have that commercial in Canada?"

Beer #22 (#5 of WinterBrewed) - Beyond The Pale Make'r Dark (Cask)

My love for bourbon is well known to everyone who has now read this sentence. After chatting up with the kind people at the Beyond The Pale booth, a cup of Make'r Dark was insisted upon me, poured fresh from the cask. Make'r Dark is a Bourbon barrel-aged version of their beer, The Darkerness, an Imperial Oatmeal Stout.

Make'r Dark is sweet, but bourbon sweet, in that way that supplements the heavy stout taste in the way bourbon sweetness counteracts the alcohol. Which is another note that surprised me about Beyond the Pale's offering; the Imperial-high alcohol rating was masked well by the stoutness and bourbon edge of the beer.

It's an incredibly strong flavor and definitely reminded me of Le Castor's Wee Heavy Grand Reserve, but seemed to lean more to the stout-ish side, with hints of mocha creeping in here and there.

Beyond The Pale Make'r Dark
Beyond The Pale Brewing Company, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Alcohol Rating: 10.5%
Class: Imperial Stout
Rating: 8.5 out of 10
Quote: "Ah, now this is how you warm up properly."

Beer #23 (#6 of WinterBrewed) - Muskoka Winter Beard Double Chocolate Cranberry Stout

Bearing the telltale sign of beerfest brews, Muskoka's Winter Beard is packed with adjectives and the promise of another unique beer experience. Much like Old Fruitcake, however, I was extremely disappointed.

Let me elaborate. Winter Beard is an excellent chocolate stout. The aroma is similar to that of a Mocha Latte, and it pours with a solid stout blackness and creamy head. It simply lacks a strong chocolate or cranberry taste apart from only the slightest aftertaste. The alcohol is hidden well by the flavors of the stout; it just doesn't seem to deliver as advertised. Chalk this one up to higher expectations, but if I can put aside the descriptive differences, Winter Beard is a solid chocolate stout that isn't too sweet, isn't too bitter and balances well as a chocolate stout on its own.

Muskoka Winter Beard Double Chocolate Cranberry Stout
Muskoka Brewery, Bracebridge, Ontario, Canada
Alcohol Rating: 8.0%
Class: Chocolate Stout
Rating: 7 out of 10
Quote: "I half-expect to see next a Triple Imperial Doppel All-Natural Vanilla Coffee Lager Ale."

Beer #24 (#7 of WinterBrewed) - Cassel Brewery Caboose IPA (Cask)

It doesn't sound like it, but Cassel Brewery's Caboose IPA is one of the most experimental beers of the entire WinterBrewed festival. Caboose is made with varying hop blends while keeping the malts and yeast the same, so no two batches of Caboose are the same. This seems like a fun idea, but makes it nigh-impossible to judge the beer, as it could easily change the next time it's served.

This, unfortunately, just adds to the sheer disappointment. Caboose tastes exactly like it's handled, not seriously; more like the leftovers that are thrown together to create a halfway-decent recipe. It's the pizza you have the next day, still decent, but nowhere near as good as the real thing the first time around.

The bitterness levels are fair, but not quite peaking where you'd expect most IPA's. The taste lacked anything special, and was surprisingly less sweet than most east-coast IPA's, but failing to match the solid hoppy taste of west-coast fares. There was a butterscotch hint to the beer, but just too bland to punch home any significant impression. If you want to start trying IPA's and want something that isn't as bitter, there are better options with more taste than Caboose.

Cassel Brewery Caboose IPA
Cassel Brewery, Casselman, Ontario, Canada
Alcohol Rating: 6.5%
Class: India Pale Ale
Rating: 2.5 out of 10
Quote: "Time to disconnect this beer from the rest of the train and move on."

Tomorrow reviews will include a beer served hot and one of my two BEST OF THE FEST beer choices! Cheers!

No comments:

Post a Comment