Old Growth Stout

Let me just get this out of the way; this is a damn fine beer. It’s the Old Growth Stout by Caldera, and with my friend Fuz, it took us about 3 minutes to figure out what was going on there.
This beer smelled like a chocolate malt, and tasted freakishly good–but nothing like I would have expected a stout to taste. There were cinnamon flavors all in the middle, surrounded by lavender notes in the front end, and a dryness on the back end. Finally, Fuz exclaimed, “It’s like Mexican hot chocolate!”
And I’ll be damned if it wasn’t just like that. I found out later that the dryness on the back end came from the addition of peppercorns to the brew, and that’s on top of it being a very dense stout. This was the kind of beer I could stick a spoon into an expect it to stand up.
This was one hell of a good stout, and quite strong; two pints of this, and I would’ve been well into my buzz for the evening. Because of the delicious array of flavors, I found myself drinking this beer a little faster than I would have; I was ready for my next beer well before anyone else was finished. As an interesting compliment to this beer, Alodie ordered a raspberry lambic, which Fuz and I had sips of in between this stout; it was as bit like having raspberry sauce with a slice of a dark chocolate mousse.
Now, Fuz and I have since returned to the pub to have another pint of this amazing beer. It hadn’t changed. Still an excellent beer. Fuz had the Six River Raspberry Lambic to follow it up, and once again reported it to be a very fine compliment.
Which is a little strange for beer; usually it gets paired with food, not another drink, but when you have an uncommon beer, I suppose oddity is to be expected.

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low gluten ale

This is the Rootin’ Tootin’ low gluten ale from Deschutes. They just opened a new brewpub downtown, so this probably won’t be the last beer from them I talk about in the next few weeks.

First, however, I have to say; that is a terrible name for a beer. Or at least, it’s a terrible name for a Deschutes beer, which commonly names their beers after mountains, rivers or some kind of natural phenomena: Mirror Pond, Inversion, Black Butte, Obsidian. This is…well, really out of character for them, and I probably would’ve not ordered it under normal circumstances, just because of the name. However, it was 1) a free pint {they were having a ‘test opening’} and 2) it was made with sorghum instead of the usual malts, so I figured I’d give it a try. I am a sucker for new beers that I haven’t tried before.

The nose is very, very floral-almost perfume like and quite strong; unfortunately, it is not backed up by anything else. I am making the presumption that the reason this beer doesn’t have much body is because it is using sorghum, instead of the traditional 2 or 4 row malts. This might be good for people who have a gluten intolerance, but the drawback is that there isn’t enough body to this beer to support the floralness of it. I felt a bit like I was drinking a very light flower. I initially thought that this beer might go better in the summertime, when it’s hot.

Then I noticed the finish, which was quite dry so despite being a very light beer, it wasn’t 
very quenching. I wanted some kind of maltiness, or perhaps a touch 
of bitterness,to help offset the hops, and I just wasn’t noticing any.

This beer might appeal to some people; I didn’t notice any off flavors that would make it undrinkable, but it wasn’t for me.

Full Sail Imperial Stouts

The beer on the left is the 2008 Imperial Stout by Full Sail. The one on the right is the 1998 Imperial Stout, also by FS. They are related, certainly, but the differences are strong enough that I consider them to be very different beers.

The ’98 has burbonesque flavors with very little head, and certainly didn’t retain its head at all. The burbonesque part gives the beer a sweeter aftertaste; a little caramel, a little alcohol warmth, that doesn’t exist in the ’08.

The ’08 has a bitterness there, like coffee, not only on the back end but pretty much running through the entire beer. There’s also more CO2 in this beer, which provides a more sparkling mouthfeel, a little like soda pop. I could see, drinking the ’98, how the beers were related, but instead of bitter coffee flavors, it has mellowed significantly, and absorbed more from the burbon barrel aging. There was a more roasted coffee flavor, instead of bitterness

It also seemed to me that as the ’98 warmed up, that sparkle in the mouthfeel seemed to come more to the fore. I couldn’t prove it, but it felt like the ’08 was served colder than the ’98, and this might’ve been an effect of more CO2 being present in the younger beer.

It was a real treat to try these beers side by side; they were dense, filling stouts, so I had water make a special appearance (seen in the middle) to help clear my palate between sips. I drank the ’98 much slower, because once it was gone, it was gone. One of the joys of beer, to me, is that it exists at a point in time; not just the circumstance of drinking (although that’s certainly part of it) but also the finite existence of it. I enjoyed that beer, and am remembering it here, but I won’t get to have it again, and so it’s worth appreciating. At the same time, beer is meant to be drank not held forever as a time capsule, so I both appreciate the specialness of a beer that’s been held back for years, and the fact that it only exists in the now.