December 15, 2014

Pig Minds Brewing Joe Daddy Barrel Aged

Brewed By: Pig Minds Brewing Co. in Machesney Park, IL  
Purchased: 22oz bomber generously gifted to me on Black Friday; 2014 
Style/ABV: American Stout, 9.0%
Reported IBUs: ?

Let me extend a thanks for this bottle. Black Friday was a lot of fun, even if my toes were numb by the end of the morning. I did stand in line for my allotment of Bourbon County, and I'm glad I did. 2014's Bourbon County release in Chicago was nothing but a shit show. But enough about that....About Pig Minds Brewing:
Pig Minds Brewing Co. is a brewery based out of Machesney Park, IL. The brewery was founded around 2012, by owner Brian Endl and head brewer Carson Souza. For more info, check out their Website or Facebook page
Tonight's beer, the Joe Daddy Barrel Aged, is a twist on their Joe Daddywhich is a coffee stout brewed with two gallons of molasses, brown sugar, and Guatemalan Coffee roasted locally at Jadabug Roasters. The bottle of the Joe Daddy Barrel Aged reads: "Joe Daddy's back. He's bigger, bolder, and older than before. He got himself a job at the distillery, stacking and racking oak barrels 9 to 5. Wooza, nice abs, Joe! This is our Jada Bug Coffee imperial stout brewed with brown sugar and molasses that ol' Joe Daddy made famous. Only this time we've barrel-aged this blend to give you that oaken experience that warms you way down deep. Now who's Joe Daddy?
Pig Minds Brewing Joe Daddy Barrel Aged

This pours into a thick, oily, opaque body, kicking up a finger of dark brown, mocha-tinged head. The head retention on this beer is fantastic, and there is also really nice lacing and big glossy alcohol legs to set the tone.

I know this glass calls out the aroma for you, but when I poured this beer I was smacked with HUGE waves of coconut, vanilla, barrel, bourbon, and alcohol. This smells absolutely potent and fantastic. When I stick my nose into the beer, I am getting big macaroons, coffee, coffee liquor, vanilla, alcohol, and RICH coffee. The coffee on this aroma is oily and thick. This smells amazing, anything short of this aroma in the taste is going to be a disappointment...I hope this delivers. 

For the most part, this does deliver. This isn't as thick as Bourbon County, but at 9.0% I wasn't expecting it to be. What I'm getting here is a ton of barrel, vanilla, alcohol, and coffee. The alcohol is not fusel at all, and has a marked complexity, like a hot whiskey. This has hints of raisins soaked in alcohol, fusel and quad-like fruits, complex coffee fruits, and lots of complex dessert alcohol notes. It reminds me of a dessert liquor, or a nice digestive. The kick of oak, vanilla, and bourbon on the back end is just icing on the cake. I'm going to let this warm up, and report back. UPDATE: oh yeah, as this warms up, this continues to improve in terms of depth, complexity, and drinkability. At warmer temps, this becomes a coffee liquor banger, with nice barrel and booze notes. This is just the perfect after-dinner treat, and a sipper to chew on.

I'm quite smitten with this brew. It's not quite Bourbon County Coffee, but not many beers are. Actually, the coffee in this beer is just one of many elements that defines the overall experience. At 9.0%, this is both boozier and bigger than its britches. The mouthfeel isn't quite thick freaky, but it is full-bodied with really nice complexity and palate depth. Right now, this is pretty hot...I think with 6~12 months of age this is going to mellow out. But I love alcohol, whiskey, and dessert spirits. I'm enjoying this because it is boozy, and I think the booze plays with the coffee and the barrel. The booze is also fairly complex, not unlike a good digestive or cognac. This unravels in waves of complexity, but you get a lot of alcohol, coffee, and complex booze up front; that rolls into coconut, bourbon, vanilla, dessert spirits, more coffee, liquor, and tons of goodness; the back end trails with coffee, liquor, alcohol, and lots of barrel. This finishes dry, and there isn't as much residual sugar kicking around as you might initially think. I'm enjoying this...and I'm finding this to actually be a sipper, which is rare for me.

Rating: Divine Brew (4.5/5.0 Untappd)

I'm feeling a Decent Divine Brew on this. This is my type of Imperial Stout. Layered, coffee, bourbon, alcohol, booze, and a true sipper. This is somewhat alcohol-forward, so be warned if you prefer your beers to be more "integrated." I'm not a huge fan of aging beers, but I think this will meld a bit down the road. For me, I like this fresh. I would not pair this with anything, except for maybe some dry chocolate cake and ice cream. This is just a great sipping beer...I would totally buy this if I saw it on shelves. 

Random Thought: People who read this blog will obviously note that I do age beers, and I'm not 100% against aging beer. I think there is some misconception that I am completely against aging beers...I'm not...I just think that people should put some thought into aging beer. It's a lot more complicated than just picking a beer with a high ABV, or a beer that meets "X style guideline."

December 13, 2014

[Cellar Review] Central Waters Brewers Reserve Bourbon Barrel Stout (2011 Vintage)

Brewed By: Central Waters Brewing Co. in Amherst, Wisconsin
Purchased: 12oz bottle from a 4-pack bought at Humboldt Haus On The Boulevard Liquors And Spirits in Chicago, IL; 2014 (2011 bottle)
Style/ABV: American Stout/Imperial Stout, ?.?%???
Reported IBUs: ?

Back in early 2014 I reviewed the 2013 Vintage of Central Waters' Bourbon Barrel Stout. I love that beer, it's a fantastic bourbon barrel stout, and you should buy it if you see it. The story behind tonight's beer is that I was hunting for the 2014 vintage of the Bourbon Barrel Stout. So far, the 2014 vintage has not hit my distro yet. I did, however, see that someone was selling the Bourbon Barrel Stout per BeerMenus. I hopped in my car and went to check it out. When I arrived, I discovered that the store was selling the 2011 Vintage. WHAT? I asked the guy who was working there what the story is with the 2011 vintage. According to the employee, they put in an order for the 2014 Bourbon Barrel Stout, but it is currently unavailable. Central Waters was able to hook them up with some of this 2011 vintage. Apparently, they just have some of this stuff laying around. Cool beans. So...I guess we are doing an impromptu cellar review. About Central Waters
Central Waters was founded in 1996 by two friends, Mike McElwain and Jerome Ebel. The two bought an old brick building in Junction City, Wisconsin. During the next two years, the two restored the building, and put in brewing equipment. A few months later, Paul Graham joined the brewery. After three years under the original ownership, the brewery was sold to brewer Paul Graham and home-brewer Clint Schultz. On the brewery's five-year anniversary, Central Waters purchased a new brew house because the old location was having issues with equipment and age. In 2006, Clint Schultz left the brewery. The brewery is currently owned and operated by Paul Graham and Anello Mollica. To read more about the brewery, check out their history page.
The Brewers Reserve Bourbon Barrel Stout is part of the brewers reserve series. This one is aged in used oak bourbon barrels, and is described as containing notes of bourbon, vanilla, and roast. 

Central Waters Brewers Reserve Bourbon Barrel Stout (2011 Vintage)
The 2011 vintage pours into a dark brown, and eventually opaque body. This looks like it has thinned out a bit with time, pouring more into a cola brown than obsidian black. The beer kicked up a finger of brown head, but the head is short lived. There is some head retention in the form of a cauldron effect, and there is lacing and glossy alcohol legs. Overall, this has held up well in the bottle over the past few years.

On the aroma: one of my favorite things ever, especially in an aged beer. I'm talking about that mother fucking Twizzlers note. This also dives right into big flowers, huge floral aromas, dark fruits, perfume, figs, dates, raisins, and underlying whiskey/bourbon sweetness. After three years, I'm still getting some faint wood, vanilla, bourbon, and chocolate. The nose smells absolutely melded, and this smells like a well integrated beer. I'm really excited to taste this.

Wow. This is fantastic. I know now why Central Waters decided to selectively release a ton of this 2011 vintage into the local supply...this has aged fantastically, melding whiskey raisins and bourbon dark fruits into chocolate, cocoa, wood, and barrel. This is super fused and melded, with Twizzlers, dark fruits, raisins, figs, and subtle oak, bourbon, chocolate, molasses, and vanilla. This is reminiscent of the aged 50/50 Eclipse bottles, which is high praise.

At ~9.5% per Untappd, this is drinking smoothly. I'm not getting much alcohol, minus the warming in my chest. This is sticky and sweet, with a full-bodied mouthfeel. There is still some nice carbonation three years later. This is very complex, and the palate depth is good. Up front: chocolate, bourbon, dark fruits, Twizzlers; the mids roll into some bourbon spice, barrel, wood, tannin, cocoa, vanilla; the back end hits whiskey raisin bliss, with more dark fruits and tons of complexity. This is the fucking tits.  

Rating: Above-Average (4.5/5.0 Untappd)

I'm feeling a Strong Above-Average here. I have to dwell on this before I bump it to that Divine Brew level, but holy shit, this 2011 Vintage aged gracefully. This has melded into something that is incredibly complex, balanced, and delicious. I would not age this any longer, because the touch of oxidation I am getting is only going to grow. Right now, this is amaze-balls. Food pairings here include nothing. Pour this beer into your glass, and fucking enjoy it.


Random Thought: When Central Waters hits their stride, they make some impressive beer. Their Bourbon Barrel Stout is the consolation prize for all you folks that couldn't land some Bourbon County Stout. 

Off Color Dino S'Mores

Breewed By: Off Color Brewing in Chicago, IL
Purchased: 12oz bottle from a 4-pack bought at Bottles & Cans in Chicago, IL; 2014
Style/ABV: American Stout, 10.5% 
Reported IBUs: 40

Tonight's beer is a certified shelf turd. I literally walked into the store, and found this turd sitting on shelves. AMA. About Off Color Brewing:

Off Color Brewing is a brewery founded in 2008 according to their Facebook, or 2014 according to their website, or 2013 if you follow their release party and the logical timeline. It really doesn't matter, I suppose. What you need to know is that this brewery is the brainchild of former Goose Island barrel guru, John Laffler, and former Two Brothers brewer, Dave Bleitner. The duo are both graduates of Siebel, and share a passion for brewing exotic, off-color beer. For more info, check out the brewery's ABOUT page.
The Dino S'Mores is another S'mores inspired imperial stout, which is a trend that I can get behind. I'm quite partial to Pipeworks' S'More Money, S'More Problems. The Dino S'Mores is brewed with Pale, Vienna, Wheat, Cara II, Extra Special, Flaked Oats, Dark Chocolate, Black, and Roasted Barley malts. This features only Nugget hops (a little Goozie Island inspiration?), and a bunch of adjuncts. The extra ingredients include: marshmallow, vanilla beans, molasses, graham flour, and cocoa nibs. My goodness, this sounds amazing. 
Off Color Dino S'Mores

If you need me to describe the appearance, you probably won't be able to track down this beer. Just sayin'. Black, opaque, brown head. OH NOES. There's legit lacing and alcohol legs tugging and glossing on my glass, and this smacks of chocolate bukkake. 

The aroma is surprisingly roasty and smokey. It actually -- and I know this is going to be some sacrilegious shit to say -- it actually kind of smells like the same roasted malts used in Rogue's Voodoo Doughnut series. As I dig into the aroma some more, I'm getting some of that graham cracker, chocolate, and vanilla. This does not scream S'Mores to me on the aroma, and to be honest, I think the Pipeworks' S'More Money, S'More Problems had a more S'more-forward aroma. 

This gets a lot better as it warms up, but try as I might I cannot find the direct S'Mores flavor. I'm getting a lot of nice roast (which is still reminiscent of the roast found in Rogue's Voodoo series), big vanilla bean, big cocoa, and lots of hints of campfire, complex roast, hints of roasted coffee, and some nice graham notes. It's GOOD. I really like this beer. The sweetness isn't ratcheted high enough to match that of a proper S'More, but in some respects I like that. This really grounds itself in that earthy roasted note...it's a note that when done well tastes really good, and again reminds me of coffee and complex dirt. 

At 10.5%, I'm not tasting any alcohol here. This is not overly sweet at all. That's both a good thing and bad thing. When I think of S'Mores, I think of layers upon layers of sugar. Even if you add that burnt marshmallow flavor to the mix, the S'More dessert is all about the sugar. The complex roasted notes in here are reminiscent of a campfire, dirt, and coffee...and I like it. But S'Mores? I don't think so. Still, this is fairly complex, and the palate depth is great. This is medium-bodied, and starts off with roast, dirt coffee; the mids roll into cocoa, vanilla, sugars, graham; the back end finishes with roast, dirt, ash, coffee, and lingering vanilla sugars. 

Rating: Above-Average (4.0/5.0 Untappd)

I'm feeling a Light Above-Average on this. I'm surprised to say that I prefer the S'More Money, S'More Problem if you are looking for that S'More flavor. In terms of a complex, roasty Imperial Stout...you could do much worse than this beer right here. I think this is very tasty, but the sugar needs to be ratcheted up to hit that dessert note. But some people (like myself) prefer less sugar....so for that crowd, this is going to be a certified hit.

Random Thought: I'm curious to see if future batches of this will taste different, and I'm happy to see this just sitting on shelves.