Silky Sultry Stouts
Thursday January 21
This is the second year I’ve been fortunate enough to host this amazing stout tasting, and it’s definitely become one of my very favourites! Aside from the fact that I love stouts, this also provides opportunity to open the really good stuff! So I chose a line up that highlights the different styles and brewing additions including coffee, lactose, and oak! From the feedback I received from my guests, they were as pleased with the selection as I was.
As usual, a plethora of delicious cheeses and meats were provided by the Peasant Cheese Company, and cold, stout-worthy night was provided by Mother Nature. Things were not cold for long however, once the hearty brews started flowing, we were all feeling comfortable. Here’s a glimpse of what was poured.
Kelp Stout by Tofino Brewing
This is one of the more recent arrivals to Alberta from BC. Tofino uses locally harvested kelp to add savoury and umame notes to their dry, chocolaty stout. Testament to this is when I spilled a little on my hand and rubbed it around, it smelled like rich dark soy sauce and teriyaki. An incredibly easy to drink stout, and -apparently- highly under rated! ($7.99 for a 650mL bottle)
La Vache Folle Imperial Milk Stout by Microbrasserie Charlevoix
I couldn’t help but put this one in the tasting (again). It’s one of the very best Canadian stouts(in my opinion), and I was curious on its staying power against some of these American power houses. It’s big body, along with generous sweetness(though not overwhelming) and chocolaty, boozy highlights achieve an impeccable balance that is not easily matched! ($8.19 for a 500mL bottle)
Winter Beard by Muskoka Brewing
This one was a surprise as I figured we wouldn’t see this year’s version before Muskoka -sadly- pulled out of the province. Cranberries and chocolate add a hint of acidity and richness to this semi-light bodied stout. ($11.79 for a 750mL bottle)
Christmas Eve at a New York City Hotel Room by Evil Twin Brewing
Strange name, great stout. Evil Twin is the clever referencing the fact that the brewer is the brother of (my favourite) gypsy brewer Mikkeller. Big and chocolaty with generous, but balanced roasty qualities, this stout drinks surprisingly easy for 10%abv. ($6.19 for a 330mL bottle)
W00t Stout by Stone Brewing
A lot of work goes into this one! Part of the beer is made with rye and pecans, while the other portion is actually the 2014 batch that has been aging in bourbon barrels for a year. The partial aging give the perfect amount of barrel character, and it plays just lovely with the nuttiness from the pecans. ($22.49 for a 650mL bottle)
Flight of the Angry Beast by Clown Shoes Brewing
This was my first time trying this beer, and I was very excited to do so! This is an intense blend of two imperial stouts and a barley wine, aged in bourbon and scotch barrels. It’s big and heavy and boozy. Really great barrel influence, along with flavours of bitter chocolate and coffee and a rich, toasty mouth feel. ($20.39 for a 650mL bottle)
Victory at Sea by Ballast Point Brewing
Another powerhouse from one of San Diego’s finest. This porter done with coffee and vanilla is rich and oily, with the coffee notes sticking to the palate. Lightly sweet malt plays nicely with the vanilla, and backed up by the toasty roasted malt. The whole beer is in surprising balance considering all the strong flavours in effect. ($13.09 for a 650mL bottle)
All this writing all makes me wish I was doing that tasting again, right now! I’m happy to say that I’m impressed by each and every beer poured that night, but I still needed to establish the best of the best. By popular vote, Le Vache Folle’s milk stout was top of the heap. I’m not entirely surprised as this has always been one of Canada’s best stouts. Very close behind number 1 is Stone’s W00t stout, which definitely deserves a spot in the top 3. A tie for third place occurred between Tofino’s Kelp stout and Evil Twin’s Christmas Eve at blah blah… stout.
I’m going to end things off there. All in all it was a fantastic night with some amazing people! I hope I get to see some of them again, possibly even for my next tasting featuring beers from the “New West”. In the meantime, feel free to follow me on twitter @ShawnsBrewsCGY or come on into the shop and chat beer! Until then, Cheers!