Iâ€™d say itâ€™s officially a tradition that the first beer tasting of the year is the stouts. The style holds a special place in my heart, even though I tend to drink more IPA. This tasting always sells out, and Iâ€™m always able to show off some of the best beers in the province. Youâ€™ll notice, of course, that there are a few porters in amongst the lineup. Youâ€™ll forgive that Iâ€™m sure as there is just too much crossover stylistically that I couldnâ€™t really help it. Plus it gives me more to talk about!
As usual, Peasant Cheese whipped up some cheese boards, and I packed that tiny room with thirsty friends, and poured my best! Check them out.
Railyard Nitro Stout: First on the list was a newcomer from Calgary. Railyard brewing brings us one of the first Calgary made canned nitro stouts. Silky and creamy with a lovely body and a hint of sweetness, not too roasty, but just roasty enough! ($17.39 for a 4-pack of tall cans)
Left Hand Nitro Milk Stout: In my humble opinion, one of the tastiest stouts on the market. Silky and creamy with that wonderful lactose sweetness integrated to perfection. Chocolate, toasted bread and a hint of licorice on the nose, and even more on the palate. ($4.09 for a 330mL bottle)
Pohjala Jouluoo: Jouluoo is a big but not-too-beefy imperial porter aged in French oak on cacao nibs and vanilla beans (you had me at French oak). Silky chocolate and vanilla on a medium-sweet base with just enough alcohol to have the flavours linger into a long finish. ($5.89 for a 330mL bottle)
Les Trois Mousquetaires Barreled Porter: This barreled version of their iconic imperial baltic porter is on another level. Big chocolate with generous sweet malts, but packed with a boozy character of bourbon and cognac.($21.79 for a 750mL bottle)
The Bruery Share This OC: Citrus is not a common addition to a stout, but when executed correctly can add a lovely bright and sweet tone that matched wonderfully. The Bruery does this quite well with this big stout, alongside cacao and vanilla, the orange peel adds a subtle round fruity tone that elevates the whole profile. ($18.59 for a 750mL bottle)
Deschutes Black Butte 29th Anniversary: The 29th edition of the Black Butte reserve series was assembled with cacao, cinnamon and cayenne. Its robust body is tempered with soft spice that compliments the chocolate perfectly. Hints of barrel give that round oak tone that finishes somewhat dry. (Currently unavailable, stay tuned for the 30th edition!)
5050 Eclipse Elija Craig barrel edition (2015): My lucky friends got to end off the evening with this 2-year old barrel aged stout with honey. The Elija Craig barrel is consistently one of their best. Big boozy bourbon, hints of residual honey, burnt bread, and bitter cacao. The 2 years rounded everything out perfectly. ($29.99 for a 650mL bottle)
As hard as it seems, after tasting them all, we had to pick a favourite. How you may ask? Iâ€™m not even sureâ€¦ they were all so good. But honestly, people loved that Railyard so much, they outweighed my sentiment of the Left Hand beingÂ best. In the second and third place we had The Bruery, and Pohjala respectively, and of course -as usual- the food won out over everything.
So thatâ€™s that! Come and get these thick and tasties before the weather warms too much and weâ€™re stuck with spring and summer seasonals. Stay tuned for my next post about the Barrels and Bugs tasting.